Publications

  • Essay: Sticky Seconds—The Problems Second Liens Pose to the Resolution of Distressed Mortgages

    To better understand whether and how second liens might prevent efficient resolutions of borrower distress and to assess how second lien holders could be encouraged to cooperate with efficient resolutions without undermining the financial interests of the banks, we reviewed existing data and research, as well as debates among both academics and industry experts about the role second liens might be playing in slowing the recovery of the housing market. This article reports the results of our research and the roundtable discussion. It first explores what we know about the prevalence and delinquency rates of different types of second liens, the extent to which banks are exposed to losses on the liens, and the extent to which the banks already have accounted for those expected losses. It then reviews the various reasons that second liens have interfered with the efficient resolution of distressed mortgages, and documents advances that recently have been made in addressing those problems. Finally, the article examines the most promising proposals for reducing the transaction costs and frictions that are behind many of the current problems second liens are posing, as well as proposals to prevent similar problems from arising in the future. We focus our analysis of solutions on programs to remove barriers to greater coordination between first and second lien holders, rather than on the incentive approaches that have already been attempted.

  • Foreclosure and Kids: Does Losing Your Home Mean Losing Your School?

    The second in a two-part series on the effects of the foreclosure crisis on children, this report addresses the relationship between foreclosure and student mobility. New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP) and Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy find that New York City public school students living in buildings entering foreclosure are more likely to switch schools than their peers, less likely to leave the school system, and that their new schools tend to be lower performing than the ones they left.

  • How do New York City’s Recent Rezonings Align With its Goals for Park Accessibility?

    In 2007, New York City adopted a long-term sustainability plan that announced a goal of ensuring that almost every New Yorker lives within a ten minute walk of a park of substantial size. At the same time, policymakers are rewriting the City’s land use map through an unprecedented series of neighborhood level rezonings that involve changing the use type and residential capacity of affected lots or groups of lots. Despite the confluence of these interventions, no research has analyzed how the rezonings interact with the City’s park infrastructure, and specifically, whether residential capacity changes in areas close to parks differ from those in areas further away. In this research, we employ a database of every tax lot in New York City to investigate how well the City-initiated rezonings correlate with the goal of providing New Yorkers with good access to the City’s parks. Our results indicate a mixed picture; while most ‘upzoned’ lots (lots where residential capacity was added) were near parks, we also find that the majority of ‘downzoned’ lots (lots where residential capacity was reduced) were also close to parks. The net impact of these rezonings was a modest increase in residential capacity for the City as a whole, but the increases were disproportionately focused in areas further from parks.

  • How Have Recent Rezonings Affected the City’s Ability to Grow?

    How Have Recent Rezonings Affected the City’s Ability to Grow? is the first comprehensive statistical analysis of the City’s rezoning strategy. The report examines the net impact of the 76 rezonings initiated by the City between 2003 and 2007.  It finds that, of the 188,000 rezoned lots citywide, 86% were rezoned to reduce or limit new development through either a downzoning or a contextual-only rezoning.  Nevertheless, the 14% of lots that were upzoned resulted in a net gain of 100 million square feet of new capacity citywide. The report explores the likelihood that this new capacity will be developed for residential use, and examines the characteristics of neighborhoods that gained new capacity and of those that lost capacity.

  • Impact Fees and Housing Affordability

    The increasing use of impact fees and the costs that they may add to the development process raises serious concerns about the effect using impact fees to fund infrastructure will have on the affordability of housing.

  • Implementing New York City’s Universal Access to Counsel Program: Lessons for Other Jurisdictions

    This Policy Brief gives a brief summary of the history of advocacy efforts to establish a “right to counsel” in eviction cases, which led up to the city’s UAC legislation. It provides an overview of the Furman Center’s observations of the first year of the program roll-out and suggests how the city’s experience might help other jurisdictions shape the design and implementation of their programs. Recognizing that every jurisdiction differs, and the importance of local context to understanding and learning from another jurisdiction’s experiences, Section II of the paper details the context in which the city’s UAC was designed. Section III then describes how the city has implemented UAC. Finally, Section IV discusses what can be learned from the city’s experience implementing the program, and highlights issues that other
    jurisdictions need to consider in implementing a universal or expanded access to counsel program.

  • Kids and Foreclosures: New York City

    While researchers have noted the deleterious effects of foreclosure on surrounding properties and neighborhoods, little is known about the effects of foreclosure on children. This report by researchers at New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP) and Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy begins to address the issue by estimating the number of students in New York City affected by the current foreclosure crisis.

  • Laboratories of Regulation: Understanding the Diversity of Rent Regulation Laws

    Debates about rent regulation are not known for their nuance. The world tends to divide into fierce opponents and strong supporters. Moreover, debates rarely engage with the details of local ordinances, even though those details may significantly affect outcomes for tenants, landlords, and broader housing markets. This paper catalogs the multiplicity of choices that local policymakers must make in enacting and implementing rent regulation ordinances and consider the implications those choices may have for tenant protections and broader market outcomes. This paper then highlights the wide variety of regimes that jurisdictions with rent regulation have adopted in practice. It ends with a call for new empirical research to study the effects of different regulatory features.

  • Land Use Controls: Cases and Materials (Third Edition)

    A thematic framework that reveals the connections among the multiple discrete topics under land law, with attention to the factual and political context of the cases and the aftermath of decisions

  • Loan Modifications: What Works

    We use a unique dataset that combines data on loan, borrower, property, and neighborhood characteristics of modified mortgages on properties in New York City to examine the determinates of successful modifications. From November 2007 through March 2011, over 2.1 million mortgages were modified in the United States, and policymakers have heralded such modifications as a key to addressing the ongoing foreclosure crisis. This dataset includes both HAMP modifications and proprietary modifications. The analysis builds upon a prior paper in which the determinants of loan modifications were examined.