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The Effectiveness of Mandatory Mortgage Counseling: Can One Dissuade Borrowers from Choosing Risky Mortgages?

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Listed:
  • Sumit Agarwal
  • Gene Amromin
  • Itzhak Ben-David
  • Souphala Chomsisengphet
  • Douglas Evanoff

Abstract

We explore the effects of mandatory third-party review of mortgage contracts on consumer choice--including the terms and demand for mortgage credit. Our study is based on a legislative pilot carried out by the State of Illinois in a selected set of zip codes in 2006. Mortgage applicants with low FICO scores were required to attend loan reviews by financial counselors. Applicants with high FICO scores had to attend counseling only if they chose "risky mortgages." We find that low-FICO applicants for whom counselor review was mandatory did not materially change their contract choice. Conversely, applicants who could avoid counseling by choosing less risky mortgages did so. Ironically, the ultimate goals of the legislation (e.g., better loan terms for borrowers) were only achieved among the population that was not counseled. We also find significant adjustments in lender behavior as a result of the counseling program.

Suggested Citation

  • Sumit Agarwal & Gene Amromin & Itzhak Ben-David & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Douglas Evanoff, 2014. "The Effectiveness of Mandatory Mortgage Counseling: Can One Dissuade Borrowers from Choosing Risky Mortgages?," NBER Working Papers 19920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19920
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sumit Agarwal & John C. Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2007. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions Over the Lifecycle," NBER Working Papers 13191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Garrett, Daniel M. & Maki, Dean M., 2001. "Education and saving:: The long-term effects of high school financial curriculum mandates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 435-465, June.
    3. Shawn Cole & Anna Paulson & Gauri Kartini Shastry, 2014. "Smart Money? The Effect of Education on Financial Outcomes," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 27(7), pages 2022-2051.
    4. Agarwal, Sumit & Amromin, Gene & Ben-David, Itzhak & Chomsisengphet, Souphala & Evanoff, Douglas D., 2014. "Predatory lending and the subprime crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 29-52.
    5. Lusardi, Annamaria & Tufano, Peter, 2015. "Debt literacy, financial experiences, and overindebtedness," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(04), pages 332-368, October.
    6. Richard J. Rosen, 2011. "Competition in mortgage markets: the effect of lender type on loan characteristics," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 2-21.
    7. Bucks, Brian & Pence, Karen, 2008. "Do borrowers know their mortgage terms?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 218-233, September.
    8. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    9. Itzhak Ben-David, 2011. "Financial Constraints and Inflated Home Prices during the Real Estate Boom," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 55-87, July.
    10. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362.
    11. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bateman, Hazel & Dobrescu, Loretti I. & Newell, Ben R. & Ortmann, Andreas & Thorp, Susan, 2016. "As easy as pie: How retirement savers use prescribed investment disclosures," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 60-76.
    2. Agarwal, Sumit & Ben-David, Itzhak & Yao, Vincent, 2017. "Systematic mistakes in the mortgage market and lack of financial sophistication," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(1), pages 42-58.
    3. Robert Argento & Lariece Brown & Sergei Koulayev & Grace Li & Marina Myhre & Forrest W. Pafenberg & Saty Patrabansh, 2018. "First-Time Homebuyer Counseling and the Mortgage Selection Experience in the United States: Evidence from the National Survey of Mortgage Originations," NMDB Staff Working Papers 18-02, Federal Housing Finance Agency.
    4. Justine Hastings & Christopher A. Neilson & Seth D. Zimmerman, 2015. "The Effects of Earnings Disclosure on College Enrollment Decisions," NBER Working Papers 21300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • L85 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Real Estate Services
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand

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