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What is a subprime mortgage?

A subprime mortgage carries an interest rate higher than the rates of prime mortgages. 

Prime mortgage interest rates are the rates at which banks and other mortgage lenders may lend money to customers with the best credit histories. Prime mortgages can be either fixed or adjustable rate loans. More often, subprime mortgage loans are adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). A subprime mortgage is generally a loan that is meant to be offered to prospective borrowers with impaired credit records. The higher interest rate is intended to compensate the lender for accepting the greater risk in lending to such borrowers. The interest rate on subprime and prime ARMs can rise significantly over time.

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