Staff Working Paper No. 790
By Matteo Benetton, Philippe Bracke, João F Cocco and Nicola Garbarino
Academics have proposed hybrid products with equity features for the financing of housing. In spite of their risk-sharing benefits these products have not become mainstream. This paper studies an important exception, a UK government scheme which in the five years since its inception has provided almost £10 billion of equity financing. The analysis of the origination and prepayment behavior of households who have used the scheme highlights housing affordability constraints. A difference-in-difference analysis of an increase in the maximum government equity limit shows that households took advantage of the increase to buy more expensive properties, and not to reduce their mortgage debt and house price risk exposure. A counterfactual study of homebuyers who, instead of using the equity available, relied on high loan-to-value mortgages shows that their financing choices can be rationalized by an expected rate of house price appreciation of 7.7% per year. We draw general implications for how households approach their house purchase and financing decisions, taking advantage of the fact that the shared equity mortgages that we study allow the separation of the consumption and investment dimensions of housing.