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Payment Size, Negative Equity, and Mortgage Default

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  • Andreas Fuster
  • Paul S. Willen

Abstract

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 large rate reductions over the past years and are largely immune to these selection concerns. We show that interest rate reductions dramatically affect repayment behavior, even for borrowers who are significantly underwater on their mortgages. Our estimates imply that cutting a borrower’s payment in half reduces his hazard of becoming delinquent by about 55 percent, an effect approximately equivalent to lowering the borrower’s combined loan-to-value ratio from 145 to 95 (holding the payment fixed). These findings shed light on the driving forces behind default behavior and have important implications for public policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19345.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19345

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  1. Christopher L. Foote & Kristopher S. Gerardi & Paul S. Willen, 2012. "Why did so many people make so many ex post bad decisions?: the causes of the foreclosure crisis," Public Policy Discussion Paper, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston 12-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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Cited by:
  1. Joanne W. Hsu & David A. Matsa & Brian T. Melzer, 2014. "Positive Externalities of Social Insurance: Unemployment Insurance and Consumer Credit," NBER Working Papers 20353, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Andrew Haughwout & Sarah Sutherland & Joseph Tracy, 2013. "Negative equity and housing investment," Staff Reports, Federal Reserve Bank of New York 636, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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