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Decomposing the foreclosure crisis: House price depreciation versus bad underwriting

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  • Kristopher S. Gerardi
  • Adam Hale Shapiro
  • Paul S. Willen

Abstract

We estimate a model of foreclosure using a data set that includes every residential mortgage, purchase-and-sale, and foreclosure transaction in Massachusetts from 1989 to 2008. We address the identification issues related to the estimation of the effects of house prices on residential foreclosures. We then use the model to study the dramatic increase in foreclosures that occurred in Massachusetts between 2005 and 2008 and conclude that the foreclosure crisis was primarily driven by the severe decline in housing prices that began in the latter part of 2005, not by a relaxation of underwriting standards on which much of the prevailing literature has focused. We argue that relaxed underwriting standards did severely aggravate the crisis by creating a class of homeowners who were particularly vulnerable to the decline in prices. But, as we show in our counterfactual analysis, that emergence alone, in the absence of a price collapse, would not have resulted in the substantial foreclosure boom that was experienced.

Suggested Citation

  • Kristopher S. Gerardi & Adam Hale Shapiro & Paul S. Willen, 2009. "Decomposing the foreclosure crisis: House price depreciation versus bad underwriting," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2009-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2009-25
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    Cited by:

    1. Martins-da-Rocha, V. Filipe & Vailakis, Yiannis, 2012. "Endogenous debt constraints in collateralized economies with default penalties," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 1-13.
    2. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Eric Rosenblatt & Paul S. Willen & Vincent W. Yao, 2012. "Foreclosure externalities: Some new evidence," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2012-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    3. Houle, Jason N., 2014. "Mental health in the foreclosure crisis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 1-8.
    4. 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.
    5. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Lorenz Goette & Stephan Meier, 2010. "Financial literacy and subprime mortgage delinquency: evidence from a survey matched to administrative data," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2010-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

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