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Alternative Mortgage Instruments, the Tilt Problem, and Consumer Welfare

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  • Alm, James
  • Follain, James R.

Abstract

The Standard Fixed Payment Mortgage (SFPM) has been the dominant mortgage instrument in the United States for the last 50 years, and for much of this period it has performed well. However, during periods of high and volatile rates of inflation, the SFPM suffers from severe weaknesses. Foremost among these problems, from the standpoint of the borrower, is the tilt in the stream of real mortgage payments toward the initial years of the mortgage. For consumers unconstrained by capital market imperfections, this tilt is unimportant. However, a consumer is typically unable to borrow against expected higher future income, or against the nominal capital gains that accrue to the owner of a house over the life of the mortgage. In addition, common practices of mortgage lenders often limit mortgage payments to some fraction of income at the time of purchase. Together, these liquidity constraints create a mismatch between the time sequence of mortgage payments and income, a mismatch that reduces the number of borrowers who qualify for financing and that limits the value of the house purchased by those who do obtain financing.

Suggested Citation

  • Alm, James & Follain, James R., 1984. "Alternative Mortgage Instruments, the Tilt Problem, and Consumer Welfare," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 113-126, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jfinqa:v:19:y:1984:i:01:p:113-126_01
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    Cited by:

    1. Beltratti, Andrea & Morana, Claudio, 2010. "International house prices and macroeconomic fluctuations," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 533-545, March.
    2. Matthew Chambers & Carlos Garriga & Don E. Schlagenhauf, 2007. "Equilibrium mortgage choice and housing tenure decisions with refinancing," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2007-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    3. Maj-Britt Nordfang & Mogens Steffensen, 2017. "Portfolio Optimization and Mortgage Choice," Journal of Risk and Financial Management, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(1), pages 1-21, January.
    4. Brahima Coulibaly & Geng Li, 2009. "Choice of Mortgage Contracts: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 37(4), pages 659-673, December.
    5. John Y. Campbell & João F. Cocco, 2003. "Household Risk Management and Optimal Mortgage Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1449-1494.
    6. Dungey, Mardi & Doko Tchatoka, Firmin & Yanotti, María B., 2018. "Endogeneity in household mortgage choice," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 30-44.
    7. Carlos Garriga & Finn E. Kydland & Roman Šustek, 2017. "Mortgages and Monetary Policy," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 30(10), pages 3337-3375.
    8. Ling, David C. & McGill, Gary A., 1998. "Evidence on the Demand for Mortgage Debt by Owner-Occupants," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 391-414, November.
    9. John Y. Campbell, 2006. "Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(4), pages 1553-1604, August.
    10. Bagliano, Fabio C. & Morana, Claudio, 2012. "The Great Recession: US dynamics and spillovers to the world economy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 1-13.
    11. Oikarinen, Elias, 2009. "Household borrowing and metropolitan housing price dynamics - Empirical evidence from Helsinki," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 126-139, June.
    12. Sebastian Barnes & Gregory Thwaites, 2005. "'Real-world' mortgages, consumption volatility and the low inflation environment," Bank of England working papers 273, Bank of England.
    13. Kathleen W. Johnson & Geng Li, 2014. "Are Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Borrowers Borrowing Constrained?," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 42(2), pages 457-471, June.
    14. Gomes, Francisco J & Haliassos, Michael & Ramadorai, Tarun, 2020. "Household Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 14502, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Posey, Lisa L. & Yavas, Abdullah, 2001. "Adjustable and Fixed Rate Mortgages as a Screening Mechanism for Default Risk," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 54-79, January.
    16. Mark Doms & John Krainer, 2007. "Innovations in mortgage markets and increased spending on housing," Working Paper Series 2007-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, revised 2007.
    17. Thorir Bjarnason & Einar Jón Erlingsson & Bulent Ozel & Hlynur Stefánsson & Jón Thor Sturluson & Marco Raberto, 2017. "Macroeconomic effects of varied mortgage instruments studied using agent-based model simulations," Working Papers 2017/10, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    18. Yevgeny Mugerman & Moran Ofir & Zvi Wiener, 2016. "How Do Homeowners Choose Between Fixed and Adjustable Rate Mortgages?," Quarterly Journal of Finance (QJF), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 6(04), pages 1-21, December.

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