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House Price Beliefs And Mortgage Leverage Choice

Author

Listed:
  • Michael Bailey
  • Eduardo Dávila
  • Theresa Kuchler
  • Johannes Stroebel

Abstract

We study the relationship between homebuyers' beliefs about future house price changes and their mortgage leverage choices. From a theoretical perspective, whether more pessimistic homebuyers choose more or less leverage is ambiguous and depends on their willingness to reduce the size of their housing investment. When households primarily maximize the levered return of their property investment, more pessimistic homebuyers reduce their leverage to purchase smaller houses. On the other hand, when considerations such as family size pin down the desired property size, pessimistic homebuyers reduce their financial exposure to the housing market by making smaller downpayments to buy similarly-sized homes. To determine which scenario better describes the data, we empirically investigate the cross-sectional relationship between beliefs and leverage choices in the U.S. housing market. Our data combine mortgage financing information and a housing market expectations survey with anonymized social network data from Facebook. The survey shows that an individual's belief distribution about future house price changes is affected by the recent house price experiences of her geographically distant friends, allowing us to use these experiences as quasi-exogenous shifters of individuals' house price beliefs. We find that more pessimistic homebuyers make smaller downpayments and choose higher leverage, in particular in states where default costs are relatively low, as well as during periods when house prices are expected to fall on average. Overall, our results provide evidence for an important role of heterogeneous beliefs in explaining individuals' financial decision-making.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Bailey & Eduardo Dávila & Theresa Kuchler & Johannes Stroebel, 2017. "House Price Beliefs And Mortgage Leverage Choice," NBER Working Papers 24091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24091
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Foote, Christopher L. & Loewenstein, Lara & Willen, Paul S., 2016. "Cross-sectional patterns of mortgage debt during the housing boom: evidence and implications," Working Papers 16-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    2. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1989. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 155-178, February.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb & Joseph Gyourko, 2012. "Can Cheap Credit Explain the Housing Boom?," NBER Chapters,in: Housing and the Financial Crisis, pages 301-359 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Floetotto, Max & Kirker, Michael & Stroebel, Johannes, 2016. "Government intervention in the housing market: Who wins, who loses?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 106-123.
    5. Gerardi, Kristopher & Herkenhoff, Kyle F. & Ohanian, Lee E. & Willen, Paul S., 2013. "Can't Pay or Won't Pay? Unemployment, Negative Equity, and Strategic Default," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2013-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, revised 01 Jun 2017.
    6. Peter Koudijs & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2016. "Leverage and Beliefs: Personal Experience and Risk-Taking in Margin Lending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3367-3400, November.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • E03 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Macroeconomics
    • G0 - Financial Economics - - General
    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R30 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - General

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