A Better Measure of First-Time Homebuyers
Much of the concern about affordable homeownership has focused on first-time buyers. These buyers, who are often making the transition from renting to owning, can find it difficult to save to meet down-payment requirements; this is particularly true in those areas where rent takes up a significant portion of a household's monthly income. In contrast to first-time buyers, repeat buyers can typically rely on the equity in their current house to help fund the down payment on a trade-up purchase; they also have an easier time qualifying for a new mortgage if they've successfully made payments on ...
Who’s on First? Characteristics of First-Time Homebuyers
In our previous post, we presented a new measure of first-time homebuyers. In this post, we use this improved measure to describe the characteristics of first-time buyers and how those characteristics change over time. Having an accurate assessment of first-time buyers is important given that the aim of many housing policies is to support the transition from renting to owning. A proper assessment of these housing policies requires an understanding of the impact of these policies on the share of first-time buyers and the characteristics of these buyers. Our third post will directly examine ...
The Sustainability of First-Time Homeownership
In this post we take up the important question of the sustainability of homeownership for first-time buyers. The evaluation of public policies aimed at promoting the transition of individuals from renting to owning should depend not only on the degree to which such policies increase the number of first-time buyers, but also importantly on whether these new buyers are able to sustain their homeownership. If a buyer is unprepared to manage the financial responsibilities of owning a home and consequently must return to renting, then the household may have made little to no progress in wealth ...
Did Tax Reform Raise the Cost of Owning a Home?
The 2018 slowdown in the housing market has been a subject of intense interest to the press and policymakers, including articles reporting a slowing in house price growth and a decline in home construction. Today we follow up on our colleagues' research on whether the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) has contributed to a slowdown in the housing market, looking closely at what price signals tell us about the trade-off between owning and renting.
Testimony on housing finance reform: essential elements of a government guarantee for mortgage-backed securities
Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Washington, D.C.
Real estate investors, the leverage cycle, and the housing market crisis
We explore a mostly undocumented but important dimension of the housing market crisis: the role played by real estate investors. Using unique credit-report data, we document large increases in the share of purchases, and subsequently delinquencies, by real estate investors. In states that experienced the largest housing booms and busts, at the peak of the market almost half of purchase mortgage originations were associated with investors. In part by apparently misreporting their intentions to occupy the property, investors took on more leverage, contributing to higher rates of default. Our ...
Uncertainty and labor contract durations
This paper provides an empirical investigation into the relationship between ex ante U.S. labor contract durations and uncertainty over the period 1970 to 1995. We construct measures of inflation uncertainty as well as aggregate nominal and real uncertainty. The results not only corroborate previous findings of an inverse relationship between contract durations and inflation uncertainty, but also document that this relationship extends to both measures of aggregate uncertainty. We also explore the robustness of this relationship to various measures of inflation uncertainty that have appeared ...
A private lender cooperative model for residential mortgage finance
We describe a set of six design principles for the reorganization of the U.S. housing finance system and apply them to one model for replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that has so far received frequent mention but little sustained analysis ? the lender cooperative utility. We discuss the pros and cons of such a model and propose a method for organizing participation in a mutual loss pool and an explicit, priced government insurance mechanism. We also discuss how these principles and this model are consistent with preserving the ?to-be-announced,? or TBA, market ? particularly if the ...
Exchange rates and wages
Understanding the effects of exchange rate fluctuations across the population is important for increasingly globalized economies. Previous studies using industry aggregate data have found that industry wages are significantly more responsive than industry employment to exchange rate changes. We offer an explanation for this paradoxical finding. Using Current Population Survey data for 1976 through 1998, we document that the main mechanism for exchange rate effects on wages occurs through job turnover and the strong consequences this has for the wages of workers undergoing such job ...
How mortgage finance affects the urban landscape
This chapter considers the structure of mortgage finance in the U.S., and its role in shaping patterns of homeownership, the nature of the housing stock, and the organization of residential activity. We start by providing some background on the design features of mortgage contracts that distinguish them from other loans, and that have important implications for issues presented in the rest of the chapter. We then explain how mortgage finance interacts with public policy, particularly tax policy, to influence a household?s decision to own or rent, and how shifts in the demand for ...