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Author:Ben-David, Itzhak 

Working Paper
Market-based loss mitigation practices for troubled mortgages following the financial crisis
The meltdown in residential real-estate prices that commenced in 2006 resulted in unprecedented mortgage delinquency rates. Until mid-2009, lenders and servicers pursued their own individual loss mitigation practices without being significantly influenced by government intervention. Using a unique dataset that precisely identifies loss mitigation actions, we study these methods?liquidation, repayment plans, loan modification, and refinancing?and analyze their effectiveness. We show that the majority of delinquent mortgages do not enter any loss mitigation program or become a part of foreclosure proceedings within 6 months of becoming distressed. We also find that it takes longer to complete foreclosures over time, potentially due to congestion. We further document large heterogeneity in practices across servicers, which is not accounted for by differences in borrower population. ; Consistent with the idea that securitization induces agency conflicts, we confirm that the likelihood of modification of securitized loans is up to 70% lower relative to portfolio loans. Finally, we find evidence that affordability (as opposed to strategic default due to negative equity) is the prime reason for redefault following modifications. While modification terms are more favorable for weaker borrowers, greater reductions in mortgage payments and/or interest rates are associated with lower redefault rates. Our regression estimates suggest that a 1 percentage point decline in mortgage interest rate is associated with a nearly 4 percentage point decline in default probability. This finding is consistent with the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) focus on improving mortgage affordability.
AUTHORS: Agarwal, Sumit; Evanoff, Douglas D.; Chomsisengphet, Souphala; Amromin, Eugene; Ben-David, Itzhak
DATE: 2011

Working Paper
The role of securitization in mortgage renegotiation
We study the effects of securitization on renegotiation of distressed residential mortgages over the current financial crisis. Unlike prior studies, we employ unique data that directly observe lender renegotiation actions and cover more than 60% of the U.S. mortgage market. Exploiting within-servicer variation in these data, we find that bank-held loans are 26% to 36% more likely to be renegotiated than comparable securitized mortgages (4.2 to 5.7% in absolute terms). Also, modifications of bank-held loans are more efficient: conditional on a modification, bank-held loans have lower post-modification default rates by 9% (3.5% in absolute terms). Our findings support the view that frictions introduced by securitization create a significant challenge to effective renegotiation of residential loans.
AUTHORS: Chomsisengphet, Souphala; Ben-David, Itzhak; Agarwal, Sumit; Amromin, Eugene; Evanoff, Douglas D.
DATE: 2011

Working Paper
Do financial counseling mandates improve mortgage choice and performance? Evidence from a legislative experiment
We explore the effects of mandatory third-party review of mortgage contracts on the terms, availability, and performance of mortgage credit. Our study is based on a legislative experiment in which the State of Illinois required ?high-risk? mortgage applicants acquiring or refinancing properties in 10 specific zip codes to submit loan offers from state-licensed lenders to review by HUD-certified financial counselors. We document that the legislation led to declines in both the supply of and demand for credit in the treated areas. Controlling for the salient characteristics of the remaining borrowers and lenders, we find that the ex post default rates among counseled low-FICO-score borrowers were about 4.5 percentage points lower than those among similar borrowers in the control group. We attribute this result to actions of lenders responding to the presence of external review and, to a lesser extent, to counseled borrowers renegotiating their loan terms. We also find that the legislation pushed some borrowers to choose less risky loan products in order to avoid counseling.
AUTHORS: Agarwal, Sumit; Amromin, Eugene; Ben-David, Itzhak; Chomsisengphet, Souphala; Evanoff, Douglas D.
DATE: 2009

Working Paper
Policy Intervention in Debt Renegotiation: Evidence from the Home Affordable Modification Program
The main rationale for policy intervention in debt renegotiation is to enhance such activity when foreclosures are perceived to be inefficiently high. We examine the ability of the government to influence debt renegotiation by empirically evaluating the effects of the 2009 Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) that provided intermediaries (servicers) with sizeable financial incentives to renegotiate mortgages. A difference-in-difference strategy that exploits variation in program eligibility criteria reveals that the program generated an overall increase in the intensity of renegotiations while adversely affecting the effectiveness of renegotiations performed outside the program. Renegotiations induced by the program resulted in a modest reduction in the rate of foreclosures and reached just one-third of its targeted 3 to 4 million indebted households. This shortfall is in large part due to low renegotiation intensity of a few large servicers that responded at half the rate than others. The muted response of these servicers?which is also observed before the program?does not reflect differences in contract, borrower, or regional characteristics of mortgages across servicers. Instead, it reflects servicer-specific factors that appear to be related to their preexisting organizational capabilities. We exploit regional variation in the share of loans serviced by intermediaries with high pre-program renegotiation activity to assess the economic effects in areas more exposed to the program. Regions where HAMP was used intensively saw a lower rate of house price decline as well as an increase in the pay-down rate on consumer debt. There was no change in non-durable and durable consumption in these regions, suggesting that distressed borrowers who are in the process of debt deleveraging may have a relatively low spending multiplier from moderate debt reduction. We conclude by discussing implications of our findings for debt relief programs in general and for other policy responses to crises that also require intermediaries for implementation.
AUTHORS: Agarwal, Sumit; Amromin, Eugene; Ben-David, Itzhak; Chomsisengphet, Souphala; Piskorski, Tomasz; Seru, Amit
DATE: 2013-11-30

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