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Improving the 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

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Abstract

The 30-year fixed-rate fully amortizing mortgage (or \"traditional fixed-rate mortgage\") was a substantial innovation when first developed during the Great Depression. However, it has three major flaws. First, because homeowner equity accumulates slowly during the first decade, homeowners are essentially renting their homes from lenders. With so little equity accumulation, many lenders require large down payments. Second, in each monthly mortgage payment, homeowners substantially compensate capital markets investors for the ability to prepay. The homeowner might have better uses for this money. Third, refinancing mortgages is often very costly. We propose a new fixed-rate mortgage, called the Fixed-Payment-COFI mortgage (or \"Fixed-COFI mortgage\"), that resolves these three flaws. This mortgage has fixed monthly payments equal to payments for traditional fixed-rate mortgages and no down payment. Also, unlike traditional fixed-rate mortgages, Fixed-COFI mortgages do not bundle mortgage financing with compensation paid to capital markets investors for bearing prepayment risks; instead, this money is directed toward purchasing the home. The Fixed-COFI mortgage exploits the often-present prepayment-risk wedge between the fixed-rate mortgage rate and the estimated cost of funds index (COFI) mortgage rate. Committing to a savings program based on the difference between fixed-rate mortgage payments and payments based on COFI plus a margin, the homeowner uses this wedge to accumulate home equity quickly. In addition, the Fixed-COFI mortgage is a highly profitable asset for many mortgage lenders. Fixed-COFI mortgages may help some renters gain access to homeownership. These renters may be, for example, paying rents as high as comparable mortgage payments in high-cost metropolitan areas but do not have enough savings for a down payment. The Fixed-COFI mortgage may help such renters, among others, purchase homes.

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  • Wayne Passmore & Alexander H. von Hafften, 2017. "Improving the 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-090, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2017-90
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2017.090
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    1. Passmore, Stuart Wayne & von Hafften, Alexander H., 2020. "Financing affordable and sustainable homeownership with Fixed-COFI mortgages," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COFI; Cost of funds; Financial institutions; Fixed-rate mortgage; Homeownership; Interest rates; Mortgages and credit;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G41 - Financial Economics - - Behavioral Finance - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making in Financial Markets
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets
    • R38 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Government Policy

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