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What "Triggers" Mortgage Default?

  • Ronel Elul
  • Nicholas S. Souleles
  • Souphala Chomsisengphet
  • Dennis Glennon
  • Robert Hunt

This paper assesses the relative importance of two key drivers of mortgage default: negative equity and illiquidity. To do so, the authors combine loan-level mortgage data with detailed credit bureau information about the borrower's broader balance sheet. This gives them a direct way to measure illiquid borrowers: those with high credit card utilization rates. The authors find that both negative equity and illiquidity are significantly associated with mortgage default, with comparably sized marginal effects. Moreover, these two factors interact with each other: The effect of illiquidity on default generally increases with high combined loan-to-value ratios (CLTV), though it is significant even for low CLTV. County-level unemployment shocks are also associated with higher default risk (though less so than high utilization) and strongly interact with CLTV. In addition, having a second mortgage implies significantly higher default risk, particularly for borrowers who have a first-mortgage LTV approaching 100 percent.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.100.2.490
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 490-94

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:2:p:490-94
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.2.490
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  1. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 98-28, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Sumit Agarwal & Chunlin Liu & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2007. "The Reaction of Consumer Spending and Debt to Tax Rebates -- Evidence from Consumer Credit Data," NBER Working Papers 13694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ethan Cohen-Cole & Jonathan Morse, 2009. "Your house or your credit card, which would you choose?: personal delinquency tradeoffs and precautionary liquidity motives," Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper QAU09-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  4. Patrick Bajari & Chenghuan Sean Chu & Minjung Park, 2008. "An Empirical Model of Subprime Mortgage Default From 2000 to 2007," NBER Working Papers 14625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kau James B. & Keenan Donald C. & Kim Taewon, 1994. "Default Probabilities for Mortgages," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 278-296, May.
  6. Neil Bhutta & Jane Dokko & Hui Shan, 2010. "The depth of negative equity and mortgage default decisions," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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