Adjustable rates, undocumented incomes and pick-a-pay options get more publicity, but another feature from the subprime mortgage boom is jinxing today's loan modifications.

During the boom, loans were often set up without an escrow account for property taxes and insurance, which traditionally are collected monthly by the servicer along with principal and interest. Leaving taxes and insurance out of the monthly bill made the mortgages look more affordable to borrowers (who often got hit later with a large annual or semiannual tax bill).

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