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The impact of housing markets on consumer debt: credit report evidence from 1999 to 2012

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  • Meta Brown
  • Sarah Stein
  • Basit Zafar

Abstract

We investigate the impact of large swings in the housing market on nonmortgage borrowing, including student, credit card, auto, and home equity debts. For this purpose, we use CoreLogic geographic house price variation, matched with rich data on consumer liabilities from the Equifax-sourced FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel. The length and timing of our panel allow us to study the consumer debt portfolio response to house price changes during a boom-and-bust cycle of historic magnitude as well as during more ordinary times. In first-differenced instrumental variables estimation, we find that during 1999-2001, homeowners substituted out of nonhousing (largely credit card) debt and into home equity-based debt at a nearly dollar-for-dollar rate in response to house price increases. During the housing boom of 2002-06, however, homeowners abandoned the practice of substituting into less costly debt as equity grew, and instead increased obligations across the board. From 2007-12, sample homeowners experienced a 23 percent average house price decline, and withdrew from home equity debt without adding to non-housing debt. We observe substantial heterogeneity in this pattern: Substitution in both 1999-2001 and 2007-12 ranges from 50 cents to more than dollar-for-dollar for older and prime borrowers, while the decidedly nonprime borrow more modestly, show less evidence of substitution, and shed large amounts of all types of debt from 2007-12. Finally, difference-in-differences and FD-IV estimates are consistent with both 1) a 2012 relative debt overhang of at least $1,800 on average, despite little remaining home equity advantage, for homeowners who experienced a more pronounced boom-and-bust cycle and 2) little substitution out of home equity debt into student loans in response to recent house price declines.

Suggested Citation

  • Meta Brown & Sarah Stein & Basit Zafar, 2013. "The impact of housing markets on consumer debt: credit report evidence from 1999 to 2012," Staff Reports 617, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:617
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Jieying & Zhang, Xin, 2017. "House Prices, Home Equity, and Personal Debt Composition," Working Paper Series 343, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    2. Collins, J. Michael & Hembre, Erik & Urban, Carly, 2020. "Exploring the rise of mortgage borrowing among older Americans," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    3. Pancrazi, Roberto & Pietrunti, Mario, 2019. "Natural expectations and home equity extraction," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C).
    4. N. Meltem Daysal & Michael F. Lovenheim & Nikolaj Siersbæk & David N. Wasser, 2020. "Home Prices, Fertility, and Early-Life Health Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 27469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Brett A. Mccully & Karen M. Pence & Daniel J. Vine, 2019. "How Much Are Car Purchases Driven by Home Equity Withdrawal?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 51(5), pages 1403-1426, August.
    6. Mueller, Holger M & Yannelis, Constantine, 2017. "Students in Distress: Labor Market Shocks, Student Loan Default, and Federal Insurance Programs," CEPR Discussion Papers 11938, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Stephanie Moulton & Donald Haurin & Samuel Dodini & Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2016. "How Home Equity Extraction and Reverse Mortgages Affect the Credit Outcomes of Senior Households," Working Papers wp351, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    8. Don Schlagenhauf & Carlos Garriga, 2017. "Identifying "Default Thresholds" in Consumer Liabilities Using High Frequency Data," 2017 Meeting Papers 1305, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Grant Graziani & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2016. "Workers' Spending Response to the 2011 Payroll Tax Cuts," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 124-159, November.
    10. Marianna Brunetti & Costanza Torricelli, 2017. "Second homes in Italy: every household’s dream or (un)profitable investments?," Housing Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(2), pages 168-185, February.
    11. Reint Gropp & John Krainer & Elizabeth Laderman, 2014. "Did Consumers Want Less Debt? Consumer Credit Demand Versus Supply in the Wake of the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis," Working Paper Series 2014-8, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, revised Jan 2014.
    12. Rabah Arezki & Thorsten Beck & Robert Deyoung & John V. Duca & Prakash Loungani & Anthony Murphy, 2015. "Conference on Housing, Stability, and the Macroeconomy: International Perspectives," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(S1), pages 1-11, March.

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    Keywords

    Housing - Prices; Consumer credit; Debt; Home ownership;

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