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Policy incentives and the extension of mortgage credit: Increasing market discipline for subprime lending

  • Xudong An

    (Assistant Professor, Department of Finance, College of Business Administration, San Diego State University)

  • Raphael W. Bostic

    (Professor, School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the Lusk Center for Real Estate, University of Southern California)

Registered author(s):

    The lax underwriting in non-prime mortgage markets is widely perceived as one cause of the recent difficulties in the housing market. Policymakers are currently considering moves such as enforcing more careful underwriting to provide additional discipline to mortgage markets. This research explores the possibility of another approach to supplement or replace some of these efforts, namely the use of policy to create incentives for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (together, the GSEs) to help “check” behavior in non-prime markets. The hypothesis is that the GSE Act affordable housing goals have increased GSE focus on targeted loan purchases, which in turn has led prime market lenders to compete more aggressively for borrowers on the margin between prime and subprime credit quality. As a consequence, these marginal borrowers will be more inclined to take prime mortgages rather than higher-cost subprime loans. We test this hypothesis and find empirical support for it. We observe a negative relationship between the growth in GSE market share and the growth in subprime market share over time, and find that the impact of the GSEs on subprime lending tends to be stronger in high-minority neighborhoods, where subprime lending has been concentrated and growing the fastest. Simulations show that a 10 percent increase in GSE market share (for example, from 20 to 22 percent) can cause 45,000 borrowers using prime instead of subprime loans a cost savings of about $1.7 billion. These results suggest that the GSEs, regardless of their postconservatorship form, should continue to devote attention to serving underserved populations and suggest that significant welfare benefits will accrue. © 2009 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.20436
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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

    Volume (Year): 28 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 340-365

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:28:y:2009:i:3:p:340-365
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/34787/home

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    1. Jonathan Hershaff & Karl Russo & Susan M. Wachter, 2005. "Subprime lending: neighborhood patterns over time," Proceedings 954, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    2. Ambrose, Brent W. & Thibodeau, Thomas G., 2004. "Have the GSE affordable housing goals increased the supply of mortgage credit?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 263-273, May.
    3. Brent W. Ambrose & Michael LaCour-Little & Anthony B. Sanders, 2004. "The Effect of Conforming Loan Status on Mortgage Yield Spreads: A Loan Level Analysis," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 32(4), pages 541-569, December.
    4. Marsha J. Courchane & Brian J. Surette & Peter M. Zorn, 2004. "Subprime Borrowers: Mortgage Transitions and Outcomes," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 365-392, December.
    5. Joseph Nichols & Anthony Pennington-Cross & Anthony Yezer, 2004. "Borrower Self-Selection, Underwriting Costs, and Subprime Mortgage Credit Supply," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 197-219, November.
    6. Keith D. Harvey & Peter J. Nigro, 2004. "Do Predatory Lending Laws Influence Mortgage Lending? An Analysis of the North Carolina Predatory Lending Law," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 435-456, December.
    7. Souphala Chomsisengphet & Anthony Pennington-Cross, 2006. "The evolution of the subprime mortgage market," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 31-56.
    8. Paul S. Calem & Kevin Gillen & Susan Wachter, . "The Neighborhood Distribution of Subprime Mortgage Lending," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 404, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
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