Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

February 19, 2016

Borrowing Constraints and The Homeownership Rate

By David Reiss

photo by Victor

Arthur Acolin, Jess Bricker, Paul Calem and Susan Wachter have posted a short paper on Borrowing Constraints and Homeownership to SSRN. The abstract reads,

This paper identifies the impact of borrowing constraints on home ownership in the U.S. in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The existence of credit rationing in the U.S. mortgage market means that some households for whom it would be optimal to choose to be homeowners may not be able to do so. Borrowers with certain wealth, income and credit characteristics are unable to obtain a loan even if they are willing to pay a higher cost of credit (Linneman and Wachter 1989). The Stiglitz and Weiss (1981) canonical model sets up the rationale for this credit rationing. Using data from the 2001, 2004-2007 and 2010-2013 Surveys of Consumer Finance (SCF), this paper measures the impact of changes in the income, wealth and credit constraints on the probability of home ownership. Credit supply eased and then became considerably more restricted in the wake of the Great Recession. The loosening of borrowing constraints was accompanied by an increase in home ownership from the late 1990s until the start of the housing crisis. In this paper we estimate the role the tightening of credit has had on the probability of individual households to become homeowners and the decline in the aggregate home ownership rate following the crisis. The home ownership rate in 2010-2013 is predicted to be 5.2 percentage points lower than it would be if the constraints were at the 2004-2007 level and 2.3 percentage points lower than if the constraints were set at the 2001 level.

This paper builds on some of the other work of the authors (see here for instance) on the homeownership rate. The paper makes a valuable contribution by estimating the impact of credit rationing on the homeownership rate. To the extent we can identify an optimal amount of credit supply, it should help us to determine a target homeownership rate to guide policymakers.

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