Consumers Worry How Mortgage Challenges Will Impact Auto Loans

LOS ANGELES — As the challenges in the subprime mortgage market continue to play out, a new survey indicates that Americans shopping for car loans and other forms of credit are beginning to get nervous.

The survey of 1,000 consumers was fielded in late October by market researcher Synovate of Chicago for GDEXAuto, which is otherwise known as Global Debt Exchange. GDEXAuto is a new Web-based marketplace where auto dealers and financial institutions come together to securely package, buy and sell asset-backed debt, according to officials.

When asked,"Given the fallout in the subprime mortgage market, how concerned are you that your ability to obtain credit for something like a car loan will be affected?" a significant number of consumers expressed fear about possible spillover from the subprime crisis. One-third of the sample, or 33 percent, said they were extremely or somewhat concerned their credit may be at risk.

"Our survey highlights a continuing need to offer lending to a number of cash-strapped segments, with emphasis on the family/young adult market," said Michael Sheridan, founder and president of GDEXAuto.

"Next to mortgage lenders and home builders, no one is keeping a closer watch on subprime finance trends than America's automobile dealers and affected lenders," he added.

In 2006, financial institutions made more than $50 billion in auto loans from subprime borrowers, Sheridan said, sourcing J.D. Power and Associates.

Among the survey's findings:

—Youths Feel at Risk: Concern increases with younger respondents. A total of 45 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are concerned, along with 43 percent in the 25 to 34 age group. This is compared to only 15 percent in the 65- age bracket, who are individuals less likely to be seeking credit for a car or other big-ticket item.

—Concern Matches Credit Need: By income, the greatest concern (43 percent) lies in within the $25K to $50K segment, or people with enough income to have an interest in a car loan, but not so much that they don't need the loan.

—Kids Raise the Stakes: Likewise, respondents with children in the household, or individuals who are more likely to be in the market for a car loan, expressed greater concern (44 percent) than respondents in households without kids (27 percent).

—Credit Impact Already Felt: For some folks in the lowest income bracket, this isn't a theoretical question. A total of 12 percent say their credit has already been affected.

—Genders Share Concerns: Men are marginally more concerned than women, 35 percent to 32 percent, respectively. However about 6 percent of women say their credit has already been affected, against just 2 percent of men.

—Employment Offers Little Relief: Having a job doesn't significantly diminish these concerns. While 40 percent of the unemployed say they are extremely or somewhat concerned, 37 percent of those employed fulltime share concerns. Perhaps less surprisingly, 8 percent of the unemployed are already seeing changes in their ability to get credit.

—Dixie Worried: The perceived credit squeeze is hitting the South hardest, with 40 percent of these consumers expressing concerns, which is about 10 percent higher than any other region in the country.

—Marked Racial Divide: The racial disparity is even more pronounced. About 52 percent of nonwhites expressed concern, versus 30 percent of whites. Likewise, 9 percent of nonwhites say their credit has already been affected.

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Editor's Note: Stay tuned to SubPrime Auto Finance News for more information on this company and how it can help those in the auto industry.

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