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High Leverage and Willingness to Pay: Evidence from the Residential Housing Market


  • Ben-David, Itzhak

    (OH State University)


In pursuit of understanding the mechanism that relates the expansion in credit to the increase in real-estate prices during the real-estate bubble, I explore transaction-level data for 1994-2008. I document a strong correlation between borrowing at high leverage (>95% loan to value) and paying the full listing price or above. Homebuyers in these transactions pay prices that are higher than market prices by 3.4% ($5,700 on average) and they are 22.7% more likely to default on their mortgages, relative to other highly leveraged borrowers. The correlation between leverage and paying high prices is stronger beyond what a mechanical relation predicts: there is a discontinuity in the average leverage around the full listing price. The correlation is stronger for financially constrained and unsophisticated homebuyers, and in areas of high past price growth (indicative of buyer optimism). The study highlights the importance of buyer sophistication, financial constraints, and beliefs in determining prices and leverage.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben-David, Itzhak, 2011. "High Leverage and Willingness to Pay: Evidence from the Residential Housing Market," Working Paper Series 2011-17, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:ohidic:2011-17

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Rawley Z. Heimer & Alp Simsek, 2017. "Should Retail Investors' Leverage Be Limited?," NBER Working Papers 24176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Heimer, Rawley, 2014. "Can Leverage Constraints Help Investors?," Working Paper 1433, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • L85 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Real Estate Services
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand

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