(Calculated Risk) Countrywide sent out a letter on Jan 18th with their new Soft Market policies (hat tip ck).
... 2008 is forecasted to be a challenging year for the mortgage industry, characterized by a declining Housing Price Index in a wide variety of metropolitan markets. In the context of the prominent threat to our industry of collateral values falling below outstanding loan balances, mortgage professionals must strive to ensure that borrowers do not take on loans that they do not have the ability or economic interest to repay.Note that last phrase: "borrowers do not take on loans that they do not have the economic interest to repay". Countrywide is clearly concerned about the new trend of buyers "walking away" from their mortgages.
The policy basically reduced the maximum LTV for various loans based on the county risk level. Countrywide's ranking of risk, by county, is available online Countrywide Soft Market County Index.