Diminishing Margins: Housing Market Declines and Family Financial Responses
Frank Stafford, Erik Hurst and Bing Chen
We utilize data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to study borrowing decisions and other factors related to the run-up in housing prices in 1999-2007, their precipitous decline in 2007-2009, and how they contributed to mortgage distress and foreclosures as of 2009-2011. Difficulties were concentrated in selected real estate markets where the Case Shiller home index declined more than 35% from 2007 to 2009. Often expecting further price appreciation or responding to a positive family labor market and income circumstance, homeowners, supported by their lenders, allocated too much of their family income to support house payments and put themselves in a risky position. The year of taking the original mortgage, the rate of decrease in the Case-Shiller home price index, household wealth, and labor market and disability status are substantial predictors of mortgage payment distress and foreclosure.
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