48 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2010 Last revised: 16 Feb 2018
Date Written: February 8, 2018
Complex mortgages became a popular borrowing instrument during the bullish housing market of the early 2000s but vanished rapidly during the subsequent downturn. These non-traditional loans, including interest-only and negative-amortization loans, enable households to postpone loan repayment in contrast to fully-amortizing traditional mortgages. Contrary to common perception, complex mortgages are used by households with high income levels and prime credit scores, quite unlike the low-income population targeted by subprime mortgages. Nonetheless, we find that complex-mortgage borrowers become delinquent on their mortgages at rates twice as high as borrowers with plain-vanilla fixed-rate contracts even after controlling for household and loan characteristics. Our findings suggest a link between innovations in mortgage markets focused on prime borrowers and the financial crisis.
Keywords: Mortgage Contract Choice, Mortgage Default, Financial Crisis
JEL Classification: G21, D10, R21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation