Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Responsible Homeowner Reward: An Incentive-Based Solution to Strategic Mortgage Default

18 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2010 Last revised: 7 Dec 2011

Alex Edmans

London Business School - Institute of Finance and Accounting; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: August 1, 2010

Abstract

Approximately 30% of housing defaults are strategic: the homeowner is able to make the payments but rationally chooses not to do so due to negative equity. This document describes the Responsible Homeowner Reward (“RH Reward”), an incentive plan to deter strategic defaults by increasing the household’s equity. RH Reward is a contingent cash reward, paid to the homeowner only once the loan is repaid. By effectively reducing the LTV of the mortgage, it increases the homeowner’s incentives to retain ownership of the property. Compared to income-based solutions (e.g. payment reductions), RH Reward tackles the homeowner’s balance sheet. In addition, it is an incentive plan that rewards only homeowners who end up repaying the loan. Compared to other balance sheet-based solutions (e.g. principal reductions), RH Reward does not require modification of the existing loan. This allows to be applied to securitized as well as whole loans, and to be implemented rapidly and at large scale without relying on existing servicing resources. In addition, while a principal reduction is a one-time event, RH Reward is a contingent incentive about which the homeowner is constantly reminded; this greater salience likely increases its behavioral impact. RH Reward bears similarities to the idea of compensating CEOs with “inside debt” to deter bondholder expropriation, as documented by recent studies.

Keywords: Strategic default, mortgages, incentives, behavioral economics, household finance

JEL Classification: D14, D18, G21, H31, R31

Suggested Citation

Edmans, Alex, The Responsible Homeowner Reward: An Incentive-Based Solution to Strategic Mortgage Default (August 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1631928 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1631928

Alex Edmans (Contact Author)

London Business School - Institute of Finance and Accounting ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Paper statistics

Downloads
851
Rank
22,116
Abstract Views
4,172