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Does Credit Quality Matter for Homeownership?

Working paper #435
Irina Barakova, Raphael Bostic, Paul S. Calem and Susan M. Wachter

In this study, we test for the role of credit quality as a factor in limiting access to homeownership. While micro-level household data on wealth and income are available for assessing income- and wealth-based constraints to homeownership, lack of data on household credit ratings has precluded evaluation of credit quality as a potential barrier to homeownership. The study, for the first time, measures the relative importance of credit-, income-, and wealth-based constraints and estimates how the effects of these constraints have evolved over the past decade. The results show that financing constraints continue to have an important impact on potential homebuyers. The wealth constraint has the largest impact, although its importance declined substantially during the 1990s. Credit quality based constraints have become more important barriers to homeownership during the 1990s, mostly reflecting an increase in the number of households with impaired credit quality. Thus, both wealth and credit constraints persist as barriers to the attainment of homeownership.

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