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The foreclosure discount: Myth or reality?


  • Harding, John P.
  • Rosenblatt, Eric
  • Yao, Vincent W.


Foreclosed properties sell at lower prices than do nearby non-distressed properties. Of particular concern, is whether there is a “stigma” foreclosure discount whereby REO properties sell at lower prices simply because they have been involved in foreclosure proceedings. To the extent that such a discount exists, arbitrage opportunities exist and the associated market failure has significant policy implications. We examine the foreclosure discount from a different perspective than prior researchers by comparing holding period returns earned by purchasers of REOs with those earned by purchasers of similar non-distressed properties. Our results show that the majority of REO purchasers do not earn economically significant excess returns. On average, the implied market discount is less than typical transaction costs. We also find evidence that REO properties and buyers vary systematically from their counterparts in the non-distressed market segment and that REO attribute prices differ from those of non-distressed properties. Overall, our evidence suggests that the market for REOs operates efficiently: lenders are not irrationally dumping REO properties and REO investors are not reaping extraordinary profits.

Suggested Citation

  • Harding, John P. & Rosenblatt, Eric & Yao, Vincent W., 2012. "The foreclosure discount: Myth or reality?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 204-218.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:71:y:2012:i:2:p:204-218 DOI: 10.1016/j.jue.2011.09.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    9. William G. Hardin, III & Marvin L. Wolverton, 1996. "The Relationship between Foreclosure Status and Apartment Price," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 12(1), pages 101-109.
    10. James D. Shilling & John D. Benjamin & C.F. Sirmans, 1990. "Estimating Net Realizable Value for Distressed Real Estate," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 5(1), pages 129-140.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sumit Agarwal & Itzhak Ben-David & Vincent Yao, 2015. "Collateral Valuation and Borrower Financial Constraints: Evidence from the Residential Real Estate Market," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(9), pages 2220-2240, September.
    2. William M. Doerner & Andrew V. Leventis, 2013. "Distressed Sales and the FHFA House Price Index," Staff Working Papers 13-01, Federal Housing Finance Agency.
    3. Peter Chinloy & William Hardin & Zhonghua Wu, 2017. "Foreclosure, REO, and Market Sales in Residential Real Estate," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 188-215, February.
    4. Donner, Herman & Song, Han-Suck & Wilhelmsson, Mats, 2016. "Forced sales and their impact on real estate prices," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 60-68.
    5. Gerardi, Kristopher & Rosenblatt, Eric & Willen, Paul S. & Yao, Vincent, 2015. "Foreclosure externalities: New evidence," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 42-56.
    6. Lambie-Hanson, Lauren, 2015. "When does delinquency result in neglect? Mortgage distress and property maintenance," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 1-16.
    7. Tao Chen & John P. Harding, 2016. "Changing Tastes: Estimating Changing Attribute Prices in Hedonic and Repeat Sales Models," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 141-175, February.
    8. Donner, Herman, 2017. "Determinants of a Foreclosure Discount," Working Paper Series 17/2, Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Real Estate and Construction Management & Centre for Banking and Finance (cefin).
    9. repec:kap:jrefec:v:56:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11146-016-9591-y is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Olsen, Edgar O. & Zabel, Jeffrey E., 2015. "US Housing Policy," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item


    Foreclosure discount; Distressed borrowers; Bargaining; Valuation; Propensity score;

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services


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