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Do financial counseling mandates improve mortgage choice and performance? Evidence from a legislative experiment

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  • Sumit Agarwal
  • Gene Amromin
  • Itzhak Ben-David
  • Souphala Chomsisengphet
  • Douglas D. Evanoff

Abstract

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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-09-07.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-09-07

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Keywords: Financial literacy ; Mortgage loans ; Households - Finance;

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Cited by:
  1. Kosfeld, Michael & Schüwer, Ulrich, 2011. "Add-on Pricing, Naive Consumers, and the Hidden Welfare Costs of Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 8636, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Miller, Margaret & Reichelstein, Julia & Salas, Christian & Zia, Bilal, 2014. "Can you help someone become financially capable ? a meta-analysis of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6745, The World Bank.
  3. Carpena, Fenella & Cole, Shawn & Shapiro, Jeremy & Zia, Bilal, 2011. "Unpacking the causal chain of financial literacy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5798, The World Bank.
  4. Sumit Agarwal & John C. Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2009. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life Cycle and Implications for Regulation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 51-117.
  5. Danielle Winchester & Sandra Huston, 2013. "Keeping Your Financial Planner to Yourself: Racial and Cultural Differences in Financial Planner Referrals," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 165-184, June.

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