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Reducing Foreclosures: No Easy Answers

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  • Christopher Foote
  • Kristopher Gerardi
  • Lorenz Goette
  • Paul Willen

Abstract

This paper takes a skeptical look at a leading argument about what is causing the foreclosure crisis and distills some potential lessons for policy. We use an economic model to focus on two key decisions: the borrower's choice to default on a mortgage and the lender's subsequent choice whether to renegotiate or "modify" the loan. The theoretical model and econometric analysis illustrate that "unaffordable" loans, defined as those with high mortgage payments relative to income at origination, are unlikely to be the main reason that borrowers decide to default. In addition, this paper provides theoretical results and empirical evidence supporting the hypothesis that the efficiency of foreclosure for investors is a more plausible explanation for the low number of modifications to date than contract frictions related to securitization agreements between servicers and investors. While investors might be foreclosing when it would be socially efficient to modify, there is little evidence to suggest they are acting against their own interests when they do so. An important implication of our analysis is that the extension of temporary help to borrowers suffering adverse life events like job loss could prevent more foreclosures than a policy that makes mortgages more "affordable" on a long-term basis.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15063.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15063

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  1. Dell’Ariccia, G. & Igan, D. & Laeven, L., 2009. "Credit Booms and Lending Standards: Evidence from the Subprime Mortgage Market," Discussion Paper 2009-46 S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  18. Foote, Christopher L. & Gerardi, Kristopher & Goette, Lorenz & Willen, Paul S., 2008. "Just the facts: An initial analysis of subprime's role in the housing crisis," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 291-305, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sumit Agarwal & Gene Amromin & Itzhak Ben-David & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Douglas D. Evanoff, 2011. "The role of securitization in mortgage renegotiation," Working Paper Series WP-2011-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Richard Anton Braun & Tomoyuki Nakajima, 2009. "Uninsured countercyclical risk: an aggregation result and@application to optimal monetary policy," CARF F-Series CARF-F-182, Center for Advanced Research in Finance, Faculty of Economics, The University of Tokyo, revised Nov 2010.
  3. Das, Sanjiv R. & Meadows, Ray, 2013. "Strategic loan modification: An options-based response to strategic default," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 636-647.
  4. Adelino, Manuel & Gerardi, Kristopher & Willen, Paul S., 2013. "Why don't Lenders renegotiate more home mortgages? Redefaults, self-cures and securitization," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(7), pages 835-853.
  5. Andreas Fuster & Paul S. Willen, 2013. "Payment Size, Negative Equity, and Mortgage Default," NBER Working Papers 19345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kristopher Gerardi & Lauren Lambie-Hanson & Paul S. Willen, 2011. "Do borrower rights improve borrower outcomes?: evidence from the foreclosure process," Public Policy Discussion Paper 11-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  7. Chan, Sewin & Gedal, Michael & Been, Vicki & Haughwout, Andrew, 2013. "The role of neighborhood characteristics in mortgage default risk: Evidence from New York City," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 100-118.
  8. Casey B. Mulligan, 2009. "Means-Tested Mortgage Modification: Homes Saved or Income Destroyed?," NBER Working Papers 15281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Karikari, John A., 2013. "Why homeowners’ documentation went missing under the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP)?: An analysis of strategic behavior of homeowners and servicers," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 146-162.
  10. Lynn Fisher & Lauren Lambie-Hanson & Paul S. Willen, 2010. "A profile of the mortgage crisis in a low-and-moderate-income community," Public Policy Discussion Paper 10-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  11. Andreas Fuster & James Vickery, 2013. "Securitization and the fixed-rate mortgage," Staff Reports 594, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  12. Thomas Schelkle, 2012. "Mortgage Default during the U.S. Mortgage Crisis," 2012 Meeting Papers 751, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Duffy, David & O'Hanlon, Niall, 2013. "Negative Equity in the Irish Housing Market: Estimates Using Loan Level Data," Papers WP463, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  14. Kristopher Gerardi & Lorenz Goette & Stephan Meier, 2010. "Financial literacy and subprime mortgage delinquency: evidence from a survey matched to administrative data," Working Paper 2010-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  15. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Christopher L. Foote & Paul S. Willen, 2010. "Reasonable people did disagree : optimism and pessimism about the U.S. housing market before the crash," Public Policy Discussion Paper 10-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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