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Do Riskier Borrowers Borrow More?


  • David M. Harrison
  • Thomas G. Noordewier
  • Abdullah Yavas


Conventional wisdom in the mortgage industry holds that loan-to-value (LTV) ratios are positively correlated with mortgage default rates. However, not all empirical studies of mortgage loan performance support this view. This paper offers a theoretical signaling model of why the correlation between LTV ratios and default risk is contingent upon the default costs of the borrower. Specifically, the model proposes that when default costs are high there exists a separating equilibrium in which risky borrowers will self-select into lower LTV loans to reduce the probability of facing a costly default, while safe borrowers will self-select into higher LTV loans as a signal of their enhanced creditworthiness. This adverse selection process gives rise to the possibility of higher default probabilities for lower LTV loans. Conversely, when default costs are low the conventional result, in which risky borrowers select higher LTV loans than safe borrowers, is obtained. Empirical results, based on a sample of 859 single-family residential mortgage loans drawn from the portfolio of a national mortgage lender, are consistent with the separating equilibria predicted by the model. Copyright 2004 by the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association

Suggested Citation

  • David M. Harrison & Thomas G. Noordewier & Abdullah Yavas, 2004. "Do Riskier Borrowers Borrow More?," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 32(3), pages 385-411, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:reesec:v:32:y:2004:i:3:p:385-411

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Anthony Pennington-Cross & Souphala Chomsisengphet, 2007. "Subprime Refinancing: Equity Extraction and Mortgage Termination," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 35(2), pages 233-263, June.
    2. Agata M. Lozinskaia & Evgeniy M. Ozhegov & Alexander M. Karminsky, 2016. "Discontinuity in Relative Credit Losses: Evidence from Defaults on Government-Insured Residential Mortgages," HSE Working papers WP BRP 55/FE/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    3. Danny Ben-Shahar, 2006. "Screening Mortgage Default Risk: A Unified Theoretical Framework," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 28(3), pages 215-240.
    4. Amy Cutts & Robert Order, 2004. "On the Economics of Subprime Lending," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 167-196, November.
    5. Jan K. Brueckner & Kangoh Lee, 2014. "Optimal Risk-Sharing in Mortgage Contracts: The Effects of Potential Prepayment and Default," CESifo Working Paper Series 4979, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Kelly, Austin, 2007. "Zero down payment mortgage default," MPRA Paper 4318, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. David Harrison & Michael Seiler, 2015. "The Paradox of Judicial Foreclosure: Collateral Value Uncertainty and Mortgage Rates," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 377-411, April.
    8. Smith, Brent C, 2011. "Stability in consumer credit scores: Level and direction of FICO score drift as a precursor to mortgage default and prepayment," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 285-298.
    9. Lanot, Gauthier & Leece, David, 2010. "The Performance of UK Securitized Subprime Mortgage Debt: ‘Idiosyncratic’ Behaviour or Mortgage Design?," MPRA Paper 27137, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Ishani Tewari, 2011. "Home Sweet Home: Financial Development and Homeownership," NFI Working Papers 2011-WP-10B, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute, revised Aug 2011.
    11. Gregory E. Elliehausen & Min Hwang, 2010. "Mortgage contract choice in subprime mortgage markets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-53, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. Ruben Cox & Dirk Brounen & Peter Neuteboom, 2015. "Financial Literacy, Risk Aversion and Choice of Mortgage Type by Households," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 74-112, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location


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