The FHA and the GSEs as countercyclical tools in the mortgage markets
The authors examine the connection between government mortgage programs and economic outcomes during and after the financial crisis. They find a strong correlation between counties that participated more heavily in Federal Housing Administration (FHA)/Veterans Affairs (VA) and government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) mortgage lending before the crisis and better economic outcomes during and after the crisis. Although the financial crisis was a substantial shock to all counties, those more reliant on FHA/VA or GSE lending experienced smaller increases in unemployment rates; smaller declines in ...
Neighborhood Choices, Neighborhood Effects and Housing Vouchers
We study how households choose neighborhoods, how neighborhoods affect child ability, and how housing vouchers influence neighborhood choices and child outcomes. We use two new panel data sets with tract-level detail for Los Angeles county to estimate a dynamic model of optimal tract-level location choice for renting households and, separately, the impact of living in a given tract on child test scores (which we call ?child ability" throughout). We simulate optimal location choices and changes in child ability of the poorest households in our sample under various housing-voucher policies. ...
An agency problem in the MBS market and the solicited refinancing channel of large-scale asset purchases
In this paper, we document that mortgage-backed securities (MBS) held by the Federal Reserve exhibit faster principal prepayment rates than MBS held by the rest of the market. Next, we show that this stylized fact persists even when controlling for factors that affect prepayment behavior, and thus determine the MBS that are delivered to the Federal Reserve. After ruling out several potential explanations for this result, we provide evidence that points to an agency problem in the secondary market for MBS, which has not previously been documented, as the most likely explanation for the ...
The Marginal Effect of Government Mortgage Guarantees on Homeownership
The U.S. government guarantees a majority of residential mortgages, which is often justified as a means to promote homeownership. In this paper we use property-level data to estimate the effect of government mortgage guarantees on homeownership, by exploiting variation of the conforming loan limits (CLLs) along county borders. We find substantial effects on government guarantees, but find no robust effect on homeownership. This finding suggests that government guarantees could be considerably reduced with modest effects on homeownership, which is relevant for housing finance reform plans that ...
Housing Supply and Affordability: Evidence from Rents, Housing Consumption and Household Location
We examine how housing supply constraints affect housing affordability, which we define as the quality-adjusted price of housing services. In our dynamic model, supply constraints increase the price of housing services by only half has much as the purchase price of a home, since the purchase price responds to expected future increases in rent as well as contemporaneous rent increases. Households respond to changes in the price of housing services by altering their housing consumption and location choices, but only by a small amount. We evaluate these predictions using common measures of ...
Improving the 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage
The 30-year fixed-rate fully amortizing mortgage (or "traditional fixed-rate mortgage") was a substantial innovation when first developed during the Great Depression. However, it has three major flaws. First, because homeowner equity accumulates slowly during the first decade, homeowners are essentially renting their homes from lenders. With so little equity accumulation, many lenders require large down payments. Second, in each monthly mortgage payment, homeowners substantially compensate capital markets investors for the ability to prepay. The homeowner might have better uses for this ...
Financing Affordable and Sustainable Homeownership with Fixed-COFI Mortgages
The 30-year fixed-rate fully amortizing mortgage (or ?traditional fixed-rate mortgage?) was a substantial innovation when first developed during the Great Depression. However, it has three major flaws. First, because homeowner equity accumulates slowly during the first decade, homeowners are essentially renting their homes from lenders. With this sluggish equity accumulation, many lenders require large down payments. Second, in each monthly mortgage payment, homeowners substantially compensate capital markets investors for the ability to prepay. The homeowners might have better uses for this ...
The impact of the home valuation code of conduct on appraisal and mortgage outcomes
Superseded by Working Paper 15-28. During the housing crisis, it came to be recognized that inflated home mortgage appraisals were widespread during the subprime boom. The New York State Attorney General?s office investigated this issue with respect to one particular lender and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The investigation resulted in an agreement between the Attorney General?s office, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (the GSEs? federal regulator) in 2008, in which the GSEs agreed to adopt the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). Using ...
First-Time Homebuyers: Toward a New Measure
Existing data sources show divergent estimates of the number of homes purchased by first-time homebuyers as a share of all home purchases. In this paper, we use a new data set to construct a time series of the share of first-time homebuyers. This series, based on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Equifax Consumer Credit Panel (CCP), shows a significant decline in this share, particularly for young households, which is consistent with the decline in homeownership in this age cohort since the early 2000s.
Land-Use Regulations, Property Values, and Rents: Decomposing the Effects of the California Coastal Act
REVISED MARCH 2018 Land-use regulations can lower real estate prices by imposing costs on property owners, but may raise prices by restricting supply and generating amenities. We study the effects of the California Coastal Act, one of the nation?s most stringent land-use regulations, on prices and rents for multifamily housing units. The Coastal Act applies to a narrow section of the California coast, allowing us to compare properties on either side of the jurisdictional boundary. The Coastal Act offers several advantages for measuring the effects of land-use regulations, including plausible ...