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Homeowner Mobility and Mortgage Interest Rates: New Evidence from the 1990s


  • Quigley, John M.


When interest rates vary, the value to a homeowner of a mortgage at a fixed interest rate varies as well. In particular, if mortgages are not fully assumable, then when interest rates increase, the value of a preexisting mortgage contract increases as well. Thus, homeowners have an incentive to postpone moving in response to other economic incentives. Similarly, when interest rates decrease, households that had previously postponed moving now have this disincentive removed. The only empirical evidence on the magnitude of this effect is based upon the period of unusual volatility and increasing interest rates in the late 1970s. This paper investigates the importance of these mortgage contracts upon mobility during a more typical environment, the early 1990s, when much lower interest rates declined further. Thus, it investigates the implications for mobility of a decline in the “lock in†effect of mortgage contracts. The paper uses the same data source and methodology that had been used previously to analyze the effects of high interest rates in 1979-1982 upon homeowner mobility.

Suggested Citation

  • Quigley, John M., 2002. "Homeowner Mobility and Mortgage Interest Rates: New Evidence from the 1990s," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt9192767g, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:bphupl:qt9192767g

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven D. Levitt, 1996. "The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence from Prison Overcrowding Litigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 319-351.
    2. Mansur, Erin T. & Quigley, John M. & Raphael, Steven & Smolensky, Eugene, 2002. "Examining policies to reduce homelessness using a general equilibrium model of the housing market," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 316-340, September.
    3. Honig, Marjorie & Filer, Randall K, 1993. "Causes of Intercity Variation in Homelessness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 248-255, March.
    4. Stuart A. Gabriel & Joe P. Mattey & William L. Wascher, 1999. "House price differentials and dynamics: evidence from the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 3-22.
    5. Early, Dirk W. & Olsen, Edgar O., 1998. "Rent control and homelessness," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 797-816, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nicole M. Fortin & Andrew J. Hill & Jeff Huang, 2014. "Superstition In The Housing Market," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 974-993, July.
    2. Amromin, Gene & Huang, Jennifer & Sialm, Clemens, 2007. "The tradeoff between mortgage prepayments and tax-deferred retirement savings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 2014-2040, November.
    3. Dickens William T. & Triest Robert K., 2012. "Potential Effects of the Great Recession on the U.S. Labor Market," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(3), pages 1-41, October.

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