Summary of The Interest Rate Elasticity of Mortgage Demand

Evidence From Bunching at the Conforming Loan Limit

Federal Reserve Board,

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The Interest Rate Elasticity of Mortgage Demand summary
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Most modern economies depend, to varying degrees, on the housing industry to generate growth. While reckless government promotion of home ownership can cause excesses such as those that happened in the United States, Spain and Ireland leading up to the 2008 housing bust, overly cautious policies can dampen economic development. As officials tweak the rules on mortgages to thwart prerecession extremes, it is important to understand how the costs of new regulations affect the housing and debt markets. While this paper may try too hard to find more answers than the data might bear, getAbstract applauds its bold attempt at addressing tough questions.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why US mortgage borrowers seek to stay below “the conforming loan limit,”
  • How they achieve it and
  • What this behavior says about the sensitivity of mortgage demand to increases in interest rates.


The difficulty in analyzing mortgage borrowing is that while interest rates change over time, other factors that influence borrowing also vary. However, a quirk in the US mortgage market allows researchers to estimate the elasticity of mortgage demand – that is, the extent to which the amount of mortgage...
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About the Authors

Anthony A. DeFusco is a doctoral student at The Wharton School. Andrew Paciorek is an economist with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

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