Money: Are You Overleveraged?

The American dream of homeownership used to have relatively simple requirements: a 20% down payment and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Not anymore. For today's first-time home buyers, financing has become far more creative, complex and confusing. Faced with record-high real estate prices, new buyers are turning to so-called specialty mortgages designed to make homeownership possible even with a checkered credit history and little or no down payment. Specialty loans used to represent only about 3% of the mortgage market, but a survey by the Federal Reserve shows that they now account for more than a quarter of new business at some of...

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