The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have released A Profile of 2013 Mortgage Borrowers: Statistics from the National Survey of Mortgage Originations. While sounding dull and perhaps a bit dated, this document is actually an extraordinary overview of the much discussed but rarely seen mortgage borrower. And while the information is from 2013, it provides a good baseline for the post-financial crisis and post-Dodd Frank world we live in.
Historically, it has been difficult for government and academic researchers to get comprehensive data about mortgage borrowers. The impetus for this report was the Housing and Economic Recover Act of 2008 which requires the FHFA to conduct a monthly mortgage market survey. In the long term, this survey will help policymakers respond to the rapid changes that are so common in our dynamic mortgage market.
The National Survey of Mortgage Originations (NMSO) focuses on
mortgage shopping behavior, mortgage closing experiences, and other information that cannot be obtained from any other source, such as expectations regarding house price appreciation, critical household financial events, and life events such as unemployment, large medical expenses, or divorce. In general, borrowers are not asked to provide information about mortgage terms in the questionnaire since these fields are available [from other sources]. (1)
Here are some of the findings that I found interesting, albeit not always surprising:
- Mortgage shopping behavior differed significantly by borrower characteristics and by whether the consumer was also shopping for a home at the same time as the mortgage. (14)
- First-time home buyers differed significantly from repeat home buyers in their mortgage search behavior and repeat borrowers differed significantly in their mortgage search behavior depending on whether they were refinancing or purchasing a home. (14)
- Slightly more than 40 percent of all respondents reported having a difficult time explaining the difference between a prime and a subprime loan. (16)
- Overall about one- quarter of borrowers reported that they could not explain amortization or the difference between the interest rate and APR on a loan.(18)
- Roughly one in five borrowers had to delay their closing date. (26)
- In general, respondents believe that mortgage lenders treat borrowers well. (35)
- Fifteen percent of respondents expected to have difficulties in making their mortgage payments in the next couple of years. (44)
There are a lot more interesting nuggets about the subjective views of borrowers in the report. I hope that later reports offer more analysis that ties this information into other objective sources of data about borrowers and their mortgages. How well do they know themselves and how good are they at predicting their ability to maintain their mortgages over the long-term?