Mortgage Debt: The Good News

28 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2004

See all articles by Donna Dudney

Donna Dudney

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Finance

Manferd O. Peterson

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Finance

Thomas S. Zorn

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Finance

Date Written: February 4, 2004

Abstract

The usual advice given to the public by financial planners and the popular press is that less debt is better and in particular owning your own house outright is a desirable goal. We show that this advice is often wrong because mortgage debt acts as an inflation hedge. Mortgage debt also has a valuable refinancing option in case interest rates fall and an abandonment option if the value of the property declines. Mortgage debt is often seen simply as necessary because of people's limited financial assets. Specifically, people can purchase a home only if they resort to borrowing. Employing a numerical model, we demonstrate that some level of mortgage debt is valuable to many individuals who do not face such a constraint. The model is able to simulate over a wide range of plausible assumptions the impact of mortgage debt on a household's wealth. Home ownership provides households a hedge against rental increases, but exposes them to the vagaries of the local real estate market. Our model shows that mortgage debt allows individuals to hedge against inflation and local market risk. The model allows an analyst to vary assummptions to examine the impact of the mortgage decision on a particular household.

Keywords: Mortgage, real estate financing, personal finance

JEL Classification: D12, G10, G19

Suggested Citation

Dudney, Donna and Peterson, Manferd O. and Zorn, Thomas S., Mortgage Debt: The Good News (February 4, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=499064 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.499064

Donna Dudney (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Finance ( email )

CBA 241 PO Box 880488
Lincoln, NE 68588-0490
United States

Manferd O. Peterson

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Finance ( email )

Lincoln, NE 68588-0490
United States

Thomas S. Zorn

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Finance ( email )

231 CBA
Lincoln, NE 68588-0490
United States
(402) 472-6049 (Phone)

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