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Recent activity in the U.S. housing market has been widely perceived as disappointing. For instance, sales of both new and existing homes were about 5 percent lower over the first half of 2014 than over the first half of 2013. From a longer-term perspective, a striking statistic is that the homeownership rate in the United States has fallen from 69 percent in 2005 to 65 percent in the first quarter of 2014. This decrease in homeownership is particularly pronounced for younger households, implying that many of them are remaining renters for longer than in the past. In this post, we use survey evidence to shed some light on what is driving this sluggish transition from renting to homeownership.
We read with interest a new Brookings Institution report, Is a Student Loan Crisis on the Horizon?, assessing the weight of the student debt burden. It was also pleasing to see the New York Times, several of our Twitter followers, and others citing work on this blog in counterpoint.
Last year, our blog presented results from the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel (CCP) indicating that, at a time of unprecedented growth in student debt, student borrowers were collectively retreating from housing and auto markets. In this post, we compare our 2012 findings to the news for 2013.
Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Wilbert van der Klaauw, and David Yun
According to today’s release of the New York Fed’s 2013:Q4 Household Debt and Credit Report, aggregate consumer debt increased by $241 billion in the fourth quarter, the largest quarter-to-quarter increase since 2007. More importantly, between 2012:Q4 and 2013:Q4, total household debt rose $180 billion, marking the first four-quarter increase in outstanding debt since 2008. As net household borrowing resumes, it is interesting to see who is driving these balance changes, and to compare some of today’s patterns with those of the boom period.
On October 5, 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Rockefeller Institute of Government co-hosted the conference “Distressed Residential Real Estate: Dimensions, Impacts, and Remedies.” This post not only makes available a compendium of the findings of the conference, but also updates and extends some of the analysis presented. In particular, we look across states to assess the differential impacts of judicial and non-judicial processes to resolve the foreclosure crisis. Controlling for the peak percentage of loans that were seriously delinquent, we find that non-judicial states are much further along in reducing the backlog of loans in foreclosure. In addition, controlling for the magnitude of the decline in home prices from peak to trough, we observe that home prices have recovered considerably more in the non-judicial states.
Since the onset of the housing crisis, a focus of policymakers has been to help underwater homeowners lower their monthly mortgage payments by refinancing, principally through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). This enables households to commit more money to consumption, debt reduction, and saving. Lower monthly payments also decrease the risk of mortgage defaults, allowing homeowners to stay in their homes and reducing expected losses for mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which remain under conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Stanching the flow of defaults also helps to firm up the housing market and, therefore, the economy as a whole. In this post, we examine some simple adjustments to HARP that would help to continue the program’s recent success and provide additional support to the housing market recovery—an undertaking that has added significance with the recent increase in mortgage rates, which could hamper refinancing activity moving forward.
Student loans have soared in popularity over the past decade, with the aggregate student loan balance, as measured in the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, reaching $966 billion at the end of 2012. Student debt now exceeds aggregate auto loan, credit card, and home-equity debt balances—making student loans the second largest debt of U.S. households, following mortgages. Student loans provide critical access to schooling, given the challenge presented by increasing costs of higher education and rising returns to a degree. Nevertheless, some have questioned how taking on extensive debt early in life has affected young workers’ post-schooling economic activity.
An assiduous follower of the national house price charts that the New York Fed maintains on its web page may have noticed that we appear to be rewriting history as we update the charts every month. For example, last month we reported that the median twelve-month house price change across all counties for December 2012 was 3.68 percent. However, this month, we indicate that this same median change for December 2012 was instead 3.45 percent. Why the change? Was the earlier reported number a mistake that we simply corrected this month? If not, what explains the revision to the initial report?
Meta Brown, Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, and Wilbert
van der Klaauw
This morning, New York Fed director of research Jamie McAndrews joined Bank
economists to brief
the press on economic developments.
With this morning’s release of the Quarterly
Report on Household Debt and Credit for 2012:Q4, the briefing focused
specifically on recent developments in household debt and credit.
Since the onset of the subprime crisis, many places across the United States have been affected by high levels of negative equity (meaning that borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth), an associated flood of foreclosures, and loss of local wealth. In mid-2012, a community advisory firm, Mortgage Resolution Partners (MRP) approached the government of San Bernardino County, California (a region with particularly high levels of negative equity) and pitched the idea of using eminent domain to seize privately securitized mortgage loans in order to restructure or refinance them. The MRP proposal was largely based on a plan by Cornell University law professor Robert Hockett. In late January, this controversial plan
was abandoned by San Bernardino County, yet it remains under consideration in other counties. While a lot of the debate surrounding the plan has centered
on value judgments and legal issues, in this post we look at available data in
order to get an idea of the landscape of loans that could have been affected by
such a program in San Bernardino County.
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