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Mortgage choices and housing speculation

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  • Gadi Barlevy
  • Jonas D. M. Fisher

Abstract

We describe a rational expectations model in which speculative bubbles in house prices can emerge. Within this model both speculators and their lenders use interest-only mortgages (IOs) rather than traditional mortgages when there is a bubble. Absent a bubble, there is no tendency for IOs to be used. These insights are used to assess the extent to which house prices in US cities were driven by speculative bubbles over the period 2000-2008. We find that IOs were used sparingly in cities where elastic housing supply precludes speculation from arising. In cities with inelastic supply, where speculation is possible, there was heavy use of IOs, but only in cities that had boom-bust cycles. Peak IO usage predicts rapid appreciations that cannot be explained by standard correlates and this variable is more robustly correlated with rapid appreciations than other mortgage characteristics, including sub-prime, securitization and leverage. Where IOs were popular, their use does not appear to have been a response to houses becoming more expensive. Indeed, their use anticipated future appreciation. Finally, consistent with the reason why lenders prefer IOs, these mortgages are more likely to be repaid earlier or foreclose. Combined with our model, this evidence suggests that speculative bubbles were an important factor driving prices in cities with boom-bust cycles.

Suggested Citation

  • Gadi Barlevy & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 2010. "Mortgage choices and housing speculation," Working Paper Series WP-2010-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2010-12
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Interest-only mortgages and house price bubbles
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-01-10 21:44:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Barlevy, Gadi, 2014. "A leverage-based model of speculative bubbles," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 459-505.
    2. 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.
    3. Jan K. Brueckner & Paul S. Calem & Leonard I. Nakamura, 2016. "House‐Price Expectations, Alternative Mortgage Products, and Default," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 48(1), pages 81-112, February.
    4. Umit G. Gurun & Gregor Matvos & Amit Seru, 2016. "Advertising Expensive Mortgages," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 71(5), pages 2371-2416, October.
    5. Andreas Fuster & Paul S. Willen, 2017. "Payment Size, Negative Equity, and Mortgage Default," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, pages 167-191.
    6. Jack Favilukis & David Kohn & Sydney C. Ludvigson & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2012. "International Capital Flows and House Prices: Theory and Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: Housing and the Financial Crisis, pages 235-299 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2016. "Understanding Booms and Busts in Housing Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, pages 1088-1147.
    8. Todd Sinai, 2012. "House Price Moments in Boom-Bust Cycles," NBER Chapters,in: Housing and the Financial Crisis, pages 19-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Benjamin J. Keys & Tomasz Piskorski & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2012. "Mortgage Financing in the Housing Boom and Bust," NBER Chapters,in: Housing and the Financial Crisis, pages 143-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Giovanni Dell'Ariccia, 2012. "Property Prices and Bank Risk-taking," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Alexandra Heath & Frank Packer & Callan Windsor (ed.), Property Markets and Financial Stability Reserve Bank of Australia.

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    Keywords

    Mortgage loans ; Mortgage-backed securities ; Housing - Prices;

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