Tight credit conditions continue to constrain the housing recovery
The expansion of Federal Housing Administration lending has let households with imperfect credit or the inability to make a large down payment maintain access to mortgage borrowing. Rather than excluding such households, lenders have been applying strict underwriting conditions on all borrowers. Clarifying what constitutes approved lending may help relax credit conditions with minimal increase in risk.
The Failure of supervisory stress testing: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and OFHEO
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, policymakers in the United States and elsewhere have adopted stress testing as a central tool for supervising large, complex, financial institutions and promoting financial stability. Although supervisory stress testing may confer substantial benefits, such tests are vulnerable to model risk. This paper studies the risk-based capital stress test conducted by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that are central to the U.S. housing finance ...
Making sense of the subprime crisis
This paper explores the question of whether market participants could have or should have anticipated the large increase in foreclosures that occurred in 2007 and 2008. Most of these foreclosures stem from loans originated in 2005 and 2006, leading many to suspect that lenders originated a large volume of extremely risky loans during this period. However, the authors show that while loans originated in this period did carry extra risk factors, particularly increased leverage, underwriting standards alone cannot explain the dramatic rise in foreclosures. Focusing on the role of house prices, ...
Payment size, negative equity, and mortgage default
Surprisingly little is known about the importance of mortgage payment size for default, as efforts to measure the treatment effect of rate increases or loan modifications are confounded by borrower selection. We study a sample of hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages that have experienced substantial rate reductions over the past years and are largely immune to these selection concerns. We find that payment size has an economically large effect on repayment behavior; for instance, cutting the required payment in half reduces the delinquency hazard by about 55 percent. Importantly, the link between ...
Foreclosure externalities: Some new evidence
In a recent set of influential papers, researchers have argued that residential mortgage foreclosures reduce the sale prices of nearby properties. We revisit this issue using a more robust identification strategy combined with new data that contain information on the location of properties secured by seriously delinquent mortgages and information on the condition of foreclosed properties. We find that while properties in virtually all stages of distress have statistically significant, negative effects on nearby home values, the magnitudes are economically small, peak before the distressed ...
Foreclosures, house-price changes, and subprime mortgages in Massachusetts cities and towns
This module shows: The changing patterns in foreclosure rates and subprime mortgage originations across Massachusetts cities and towns over time; How movements in these rates compare with movements in house prices for any user-selected city or town; The association between foreclosure rates and median income in these cities and towns.
Cross-sectional patterns of mortgage debt during the housing boom: evidence and implications
The reallocation of mortgage debt to low-income or marginally qualified borrowers plays a central role in many explanations of the early 2000s housing boom. We show that such a reallocation never occurred, as the distribution of mortgage debt with respect to income changed little even as the aggregate stock of debt grew rapidly. Moreover, because mortgage debt varies positively with income in the cross section, equal percentage increases in debt among high- and low-income borrowers meant that wealthy borrowers accounted for most new debt in dollar terms. Previous research stressing the ...
Borrowing costs and the demand for equity over the life cycle
We construct a life-cycle model that delivers realistic behavior for both equity holdings and borrowings. The key model ingredient is a wedge between the cost of borrowing and the risk-free investment return. Borrowing can either raise or lower equity demand, depending on the cost of borrowing. A borrowing rate equal to the expected return on equity ? which we show roughly matches the data ? minimizes the demand for equity. Alternative models with no borrowing or limited borrowing at the risk-free rate cannot simultaneously fit empirical evidence on borrowing and equity holdings.
Mortgage Prepayment, Race, and Monetary Policy
This paper documents large differences in mortgage prepayment behavior across racial and ethnic groups in the United States, which have significant implications for monetary policy, inequality, and pricing. Using a novel data set that combines administrative data on mortgage performance with information on race and ethnicity, we show that Black and Hispanic white borrowers have significantly lower prepayment rates compared with Non-Hispanic white borrowers, holding income, credit score, and equity constant. This gap is on the order of 50 percent and largely reflects different sensitivities ...