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Concentration in Mortgage Lending, Refinancing Activity and Mortgage Rates

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  • David S. Scharfstein
  • Adi Sunderam

Abstract

We present evidence that high concentration in local mortgage lending reduces the sensitivity of mortgage rates and refinancing activity to mortgage-backed security (MBS) yields. A decrease in MBS yields is typically associated with greater refinancing activity and lower rates on new mortgages. However, this effect is dampened in counties with concentrated mortgage markets. We isolate the direct effect of mortgage market concentration and rule out alternative explanations based on borrower, loan, and collateral characteristics in two ways. First, we use a matching procedure to compare high- and low-concentration counties that are very similar on observable characteristics and find similar results. Second, we examine counties where concentration in mortgage lending is increased by bank mergers. We show that within a given county, sensitivities to MBS yields decrease after a concentration-increasing merger. Our results suggest that the strength of the housing channel of monetary policy transmission varies in both the time series and the cross section. In the cross section, increasing concentration by one standard deviation reduces the overall impact of a decline in MBS yields by approximately 50%. In the time series, a decrease in MBS yields today has a 40% smaller effect on the average county than it would have had in the 1990s because of higher concentration today.

Suggested Citation

  • David S. Scharfstein & Adi Sunderam, 2013. "Concentration in Mortgage Lending, Refinancing Activity and Mortgage Rates," NBER Working Papers 19156, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19156
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fuster, Andreas & Lo, Stephanie & Willen, Paul S., 2017. "The time-varying price of financial intermediation in the mortgage market," Staff Reports 805, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, revised 01 Aug 2017.
    2. Marco Di Maggio & Amir Kermani & Christopher Palmer, 2016. "How Quantitative Easing Works: Evidence on the Refinancing Channel," NBER Working Papers 22638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Erik Hurst & Benjamin J. Keys & Amit Seru & Joseph Vavra, 2016. "Regional Redistribution through the US Mortgage Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(10), pages 2982-3028, October.
    4. Knut Are Aastveit & Andrea Carriero & Todd E. Clark & Massimiliano Marcellino, 2017. "Have Standard VARS Remained Stable Since the Crisis?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(5), pages 931-951, August.
    5. Fuster, Andreas & Goodman, Laurie & Lucca, David O. & Madar, Laurel & Molloy, Linsey & Willen, Paul S., 2013. "The rising gap between primary and secondary mortgage rates," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Dec, pages 17-39.
    6. Cortes, Kristle Romero & Strahan, Philip E., 2014. "Tracing Out Capital Flows: How Financially Integrated Banks Respond to Natural Disasters," Working Papers (Old Series) 1412, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, revised 01 Oct 2015.
    7. Benjamin J. Keys & Tomasz Piskorski & Amit Seru & Vincent Yao, 2014. "Mortgage Rates, Household Balance Sheets, and the Real Economy," NBER Working Papers 20561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:ire:issued:v:20:n:03:2017:p:325-348 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • L85 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Real Estate Services

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