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Transparency in the Mortgage Market

Working paper #763
Andrey D. Pavlov, Susan M. Wachter and Albert Alex Zevele

This paper studies the impact of transparency in the mortgage market on the underlying real estate markets. We show that geographic transparency in the secondary mortgage market, which implies geographic risk based pricing in the primary market, can limit risk-sharing and make house prices more volatile. Ex-ante, regions prefer opaque markets to enable insurance opportunities. We discuss the implications for risk based pricing and house price volatility more generally. In addition, we investigate the specific conditions under which competitive lenders would optimally choose to provide opaque lending, thus reducing volatility in the real estate markets. We show that in general the opaque competitive equilibrium is not stable, and lenders have incentives to switch to transparent lending if one of the geographic regions has experienced a negative income shock. We propose market and regulatory mechanisms that make the opaque competitive equilibrium stable and insurance opportunities possible

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