Non-salient fees in the mortgage market

Staff working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 06 September 2019

Staff Working Paper No. 819

By Lu Liu

This paper studies supply-side product pricing when consumers underreact to non-salient fees. Using comprehensive data on issued and offered mortgages in the UK, I document that lenders differ substantially in the fees they charge, and that borrowers appear less overall cost-sensitive to products with fees. In order to distinguish from demand factors such as unobservable preferences or product characteristics, I show that lenders pass on firm-specific funding cost shocks via fees, but not interest rates, consistent with strategic pricing of fees, and maintaining competitive prices in the salient price dimension, interest rates. I further find heterogeneity in pricing across lenders: those who rely on high fees tend to have higher funding cost, lower return on equity and larger branch networks, in line with a specialization equilibrium in which high-cost lenders are able to match with less cost-sensitive consumers.

PDFNon-salient fees in the mortgage market

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