Using a nationally representative panel of consumer credit records for the US from 1999 to 2021, we document a positive correlation between child and parent homeownership. We propose a new causal mechanism behind this relationship based on parents extracting home equity to help finance their child’s home purchase and quantify this mechanism in several ways. First, controlling for cohort, zip code, age, and the creditworthiness of parents and children, we find that children whose parents extract equity are 60% more likely to become a homeowner than children whose homeowner-parents do not extract equity. Second, using an event study approach, we find that the increase in child homeownership occurs almost entirely in the year when parents extract equity. Third, using variation in equity extraction induced by households near leverage constraints, we find parental equity extraction increases the child’s probability of becoming a homeowner by about five times. Our results highlight the importance of familial wealth for household wealth accumulation and housing wealth in particular. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that dynastic home equity increases housing wealth inequality among young adults by 20%.
What explains record U.S. house price growth since late 2019? We show that the shift to remote work explains over one half of the 23.8 percent national house price increase over this period. Using variation in remote work exposure across U.S. metropolitan areas we estimate that an additional percentage point of remote work causes a 0.93 percent increase in house prices after controlling for negative spillovers from migration. This cross-sectional estimate combined with the aggregate shift to remote work implies that remote work raised aggregate U.S. house prices by 15.1 percent. Using a model of remote work and location choice we argue that this estimate is a lower bound on the aggregate effect. Our results imply a fundamentals-based explanation for the recent increases in housing costs over speculation or financial factors, and that the evolution of remote work is likely to have large effects on the future path of house prices and inflation.
Published Articles (Refereed Journals and Volumes)
We study how employment documentation requirements and out‐of‐pocket closing costs constrain mortgage refinancing. These frictions, which bind most severely during recessions, may significantly inhibit monetary policy pass‐through. To study their effects on refinancing, we exploit an FHA policy change that excluded unemployed borrowers from refinancing and increased others’ out‐of‐pocket costs substantially. These changes dramatically reduced refinancing rates, particularly among the likely unemployed and those facing new out‐of‐pocket costs. Our results imply that unemployed and liquidity‐constrained borrowers have a high latent demand for refinancing. Cyclical variation in these factors may therefore affect both the aggregate and distributional consequences of monetary policy.
This article studies how credit markets respond to policy constraints on household leverage. Exploiting a sharp policy-induced discontinuity in the cost of originating certain high-leverage mortgages, we study how the Dodd-Frank “Ability-to-Repay” rule affected the price and availability of credit in the U.S. mortgage market. Our estimates show that the policy had only moderate effects on prices, increasing interest rates on affected loans by 10-15 basis points. The effect on quantities, however, was significantly larger; we estimate that the policy eliminated 15% of the affected market completely and reduced leverage for another 20% of remaining borrowers. This reduction in quantities is much greater than would be implied by plausible demand elasticities and indicates that lenders responded to the policy not only by raising prices but also by exiting the regulated portion of the market. Heterogeneity in the quantity response across lenders suggests that agency costs may have been one particularly important market friction contributing to the large overall effect as the fall in lending was substantially larger among lenders relying on third-parties to originate loans. Finally, while the policy succeeded in reducing leverage, our estimates suggest this effect would have only slightly reduced aggregate default rates during the housing crisis.
Using household-level debt data over 2000-2012 and local variation in inequality, we show that low-income households in high-inequality regions (zip codes, counties, states) accumulated less debt relative to their income than low-income households in lower inequality regions. We also find evidence that low-income households face higher credit prices and reduced access to credit as inequality increases. We argue that these patterns are consistent with inequality tilting credit supply away from low-income households and toward high-income households, which may have long-run implications for outcomes like homeownership or entrepreneurship.