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The Time-Varying Price of Financial Intermediation in the Mortgage Market

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  • Andreas Fuster
  • Stephanie H. Lo
  • Paul S. Willen

Abstract

The U.S. mortgage market links homeowners with savers all over the world. In this paper, we ask how much of the flow of money from savers to borrowers goes to the intermediaries that facilitate these transactions. Based on a new methodology and a new administrative dataset, we find that the price of intermediation, measured as a fraction of the loan amount at origination, is large—142 basis points on average over the 2008–2014 period. At daily frequencies, intermediaries pass on price changes in the secondary market to borrowers in the primary market almost completely. At monthly frequencies, the price of intermediation fluctuates significantly and is highly sensitive to volume, likely reflecting capacity constraints: a one standard deviation increase in applications for new mortgages leads to a 30–35 basis point increase in the price of intermediation. Additionally, over 2008–2014, the price of intermediation increased about 30 basis points per year, potentially reflecting higher mortgage servicing costs and an increased legal and regulatory burden. Taken together, the sensitivity to volume and the positive trend led to an implicit total cost to borrowers of about $135 billion over this period. Finally, increases in application volume associated with “quantitative easing” (QE) led to substantial increases in the price of intermediation, which attenuated the benefits of QE to borrowers.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Fuster & Stephanie H. Lo & Paul S. Willen, 2017. "The Time-Varying Price of Financial Intermediation in the Mortgage Market," NBER Working Papers 23706, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23706
    Note: CF EFG ME PE
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    Cited by:

    1. Semyon Malamud & Andreas Schrimpf, 2016. "Intermediation Markups and Monetary Policy Passthrough," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 16-75, Swiss Finance Institute.
    2. Neil Bhutta & Daniel R. Ringo, 2017. "The Effect of Interest Rates on Home Buying : Evidence from a Discontinuity in Mortgage Insurance Premiums," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-086, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Greg Buchak & Gregor Matvos & Tomasz Piskorski & Amit Seru, 2017. "Fintech, Regulatory Arbitrage, and the Rise of Shadow Banks," NBER Working Papers 23288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    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

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