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Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Working Paper Series
Innovations in mortgage markets and increased spending on housing
Mark Doms
John Krainer
Abstract

Over the past several decades, innovations in the mortgage market have benefited consumers through a variety of channels. Innovations include the lowering of down payment requirements, increased flexibility in repayment schedules, and the reduction of costs associated with extracting equity from homes. To ascertain the ways in which these innovations would alter spending on housing, we develop a model of the home buying and mortgage choice decision that produces a number of testable implications. For instance, the lowering of down payment requirements should result in homeownership rates increasing, especially for households that are traditionally cash constrained. In fact, we show that between 1994 and 2004, the homeownership rate for young and low-income households rose sharply. Increased flexibility of repayment schedules should assist households in smoothing their housing consumption choices. Empirically, we document that households have increased the share of their income spent on housing by a substantial margin. The result is robust to the changing composition of households and also to regional location. Households that have been traditionally cash constrained have increased their housing expenditures but tend to have low mortgage rates, suggesting that these households may be financing their increased housing consumption with alternative, flexible mortgage products.


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Mark Doms & John Krainer, Innovations in mortgage markets and increased spending on housing, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Working Paper Series 2007-05, 2007.
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Keywords: Mortgages ; Housing - Finance
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