Are Foreclosures Contagious?
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Villanova University - School of Business
Carlos D. Ramirez
George Mason University - Department of Economics
Christof W. Stahel
US Securities & Exchange Commission - Division of Risk, Strategy and Financial Innovation
January 19, 2011
Using a large sample of U.S. mortgages observed over the 2005-2009 period, we find that foreclosures are contagious. After controlling for major factors known to influence a borrower’s decision to default, including borrower and loan characteristics, local demographic and economic conditions, and changes in property values, the likelihood of a mortgage default increases by as much as 24% with a one standard deviation increase in the foreclosure rate of the borrower’s surrounding zip code. We find that foreclosure contagion is most prevalent among strategic defaulters: borrowers who are underwater on their mortgage but are not likely to be financially distressed. Taken together, the evidence supports the notion that foreclosures are contagious.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Foreclosure, Contagion, Mortgages, Learning, Stigmaworking papers series
Date posted: January 10, 2012
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