Previous research provides rationales for and evidence of a link between house price appreciation and mortgage choice, with higher appreciation associated with higher take-up rates for adjustable-rate mortgages relative to fixed-rate mortgages. Research also finds mortgage interest rates and their underlying components to be important determinants of mortgage financing choices. In this paper we extend the earlier research and show that house price appreciation can have important interactive effects with those other determinants of mortgage financing choices. The analysis focuses on the period from 2000 to 2007, an episode marked by rapid house price appreciation along with a persistent and notable increase in the use of adjustable-rate mortgage financing, including alternative mortgage products. We find that higher house price appreciation dampened the estimated sensitivity of take-up rates among mortgage financing options to the underlying mortgage pricing components. The results, which are especially robust for fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages that are fully amortized, were not driven solely by observations in markets with especially high rates of house price appreciation. Moreover, after taking into account the interactive effects with mortgage pricing components, house price appreciation is estimated to have had relatively little additional effect on take-up rates among mortgage financing options.
The U.S. housing boom during the first part of the past decade was marked by rapid house price appreciation and greater access to mortgage credit for lower credit-rated borrowers. The subsequent collapse of the housing market and the high default rates on residential mortgages raise the issue of whether the pace of house price appreciation and the mix of borrowers may have affected the influence of fundamentals in housing and mortgage markets. This paper examines that issue in connection with one aspect of mortgage financing, the choice among fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. This analysis is motivated in part by the increased use of adjustable-rate mortgage financing, notably among lower credit-rated borrowers, during the peak of the housing boom. Based on analysis of a large sample of loan level data, we find strong evidence that house price appreciation dampened the influence of a number of fundamentals (mortgage pricing terms and other interest rate related metrics) that previous research finds to be important determinants of mortgage financing choices. With regard to the mix of borrowers, the evidence indicates that, while low risk-rated borrowers were affected on the margin more by house price appreciation, on balance those borrowers tended be at least as responsive to fundamentals as high risk rated borrowers. The higher propensity of low credit-rated borrowers to choose adjustable-rate financing compared with high credit-rated borrowers in the housing boom appears to have been related to borrower credit risk metrics. Given the evidence related to loan pricing terms, other interest rate metrics and fixed effects, the relation of credit risk to mortgage financing choice seems more consistent with considerations such as credit constraints, risk preferences, and mortgage tenor than just a systematic lack of financial sophistication among higher credit risk borrowers.
We evaluate the importance of three different channels for explaining the recent performance of subprime mortgages. First, the riskiness of the subprime borrowing pool may have increased. Second, pockets of regional economic weakness may have helped
push a larger proportion of subprime borrowers into delinquency. Third, for a variety of reasons, the recent history of local house price appreciation and the degree of house price deceleration may have affected delinquency rates on subprime mortgages. While we find
a role for all three candidate explanations, patterns in recent house price appreciation are far and away the best single predictor of delinquency levels and changes in delinquencies. Importantly, after controlling for the current level of house price appreciation, measures
of house price deceleration remain significant predictors of changes in subprime delinquencies. The results point to a possible role for changes in house price expectations for explaining changes in delinquencies.
We develop new techniques to assess the relationship between commercial bank performance and the economic conditions in the markets in which they operate. In the analysis, we allow for heterogeneity in the responses of banks to regional economic conditions. We find a statistically significant relationship between bank performance and shocks to the regional markets in which they operate. We find that region-specific shocks have a significant and persistent effect on the cross-sectional variance of bank performance in the market. That is, shocks affecting average performance of banks in a region also tend to increase the dispersion of their performance. We demonstrate that this effect is due to heterogeneity in the banks’ exposures to their regional economies. Moreover, by allowing for this heterogeneity, we find that systematic responses to regional economic effects are notably more important in explaining the variation in bank performance than suggested by analysis in which responses are constrain to be the same for all banks.
Published Articles (Refereed Journals and Volumes)
Comment: Reducing Risk at Small Community Banks: Is It Size or Geographic Diversification That Matters?
Journal of Financial Services Research 25(2-3), April 2004, 283-289
Financial Modernization and Regulation
Journal of Financial Services Research 16 (2/3), September 1999, 5-10 | With Kwan
A Re-examination of Mean-Variance Analysis of Bank Capital Regulation
Journal of Banking and Finance 14, 1990 | With Keeley
Capital Regulation and Bank Risk-Taking: A Note
Journal of Banking and Finance 13, 1989 | With Keeley
Shoring Up the Deposit Insurance System
American Banker, 1988
Regulating Bank Capital
In Annual Editions: Macroeconomics | Guilford, CT: The Dushkin Publishing Group, 1988 | With Keeley
The Search for Financial Stability: Postscript
In The Search for Financial Stability: The Past Fifty Years, ed. by Furlong and Keeley, 1985. 213-234 | With Keeley