Publications

  • An Economic Analysis of Housing Abandonment

    Landlord abandonment of rental housing has affected many American cities since the 1960’s. Because of data limitations, there have been few empirical analyses of the determinants of housing abandonment. In this paper, we use a rich database that contains information on individual residential properties in New York City to estimate a reduced form model of owner abandonment. We model an owner’s decision to abandon his or her property as being similar to an investor’s decision to exercise a put option on a financial instrument. When required to pay delinquent taxes, a wealth-maximizing landlord has an incentive to cede ownership of his or her residential property when the value of all outstanding liens exceeds the property’s market value. Estimates from the model are used to examine whether empirical evidence supports this option model of abandonment.

  • An Opportunity to Stabilize New York City’s Neighborhoods:  A Fact Sheet on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program

    A core mission of the Furman Center is to provide essential data and analysis about New York City’s housing and neighborhoods to those involved in land use, real estate development, community economic development, housing, research and urban policy. Towards this end, we present this fact sheet describing some of the ways that government agencies and other stakeholders can use data to target the use of funds made available to stabilize neighborhoods in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.

  • Challenges Facing Housing Markets in the Next Decade: Developing a Policy-Relevant Research Agenda

    This paper proposes a research agenda that addresses the major challenges facing the U.S. housing market: the long-term effects of the housing market crisis on today’s households and on the next generation, increasing poverty coupled with persistently high income inequality and volatility, continued concentration of poor and minority households in low-quality housing and low-opportunity neighborhoods, and the growing need for sustainable and resilient buildings and communities. This analysis is a framing paper for the What Works Collaborative, a foundation-supported research partnership that conducts timely research and analysis to help inform the implementation of an evidence-based housing and urban policy agenda.

  • Decoding the Foreclosure Crisis: Causes, Responses and Consequences

    In a Point/Counterpoint exchange, Furman Center researchers discuss the causes and consequences of the foreclosure crisis. Each of the Point/Counterpoint teams was asked to address a set of questions covering the scope and causes of the foreclosure crisis, whether the federal policy response was appropriate, and how the future of mortgage lending may change in response to the crisis.

  • Determinants of the Incidence of Loan Modifications

    Loan modifications ensure that borrowers avoid foreclosure and save their credit record. These modifications are also beneficial to the neighborhoods in which these borrowers reside, preventing vacancies and high rates of turnover. This analysis looks at loan delinquency and repayment plan data from New York City borrowers to provide the strongest predictors of modifications or liquidation of property. In this paper, we answer key questions about loan modifications, including how the identity, property or neighborhood of the borrower affects the likelihood of receiving a modification. We also look at the role of residential segregation, as well as the identity of the loan’s servicer as an influence on variations in borrower access to loan modifications.

  • Do Foreclosures Cause Crime?

    The mortgage foreclosure crisis has generated increasing concerns about the effects of foreclosed properties on their surrounding neighborhoods, and on criminal activity in particular. Using a unique dataset of point-specific longitudinal crime and foreclosure data from New York City, this paper explores whether foreclosed properties affect criminal activity on the surrounding blockface – an individual street segment including properties on both sides of the street. The researchers report that foreclosures on a blockface lead to additional violent crimes and public order crimes, and these effects are largest when foreclosure activity is measured by the number of bank-owned properties on a blockface.

  • Do Foreclosures Cause Crime?

    Foreclosures affect not only individual homeowners, but also the crime levels of the surrounding neighborhood. This study found that neighborhoods with concentrated foreclosures see an uptick in crime for each foreclosure notice issued. These effects are pronounced in hardest hit neighborhoods; that is, those with concentrated foreclosures. The report suggests that policing and community stabilizing efforts should prioritize areas with concentrated foreclosures, especially those where crime rates are already moderate to high.

  • Does Losing Your Home Mean Losing Your School?:  Effects of Foreclosures on the School Mobility of Children

    In the last few years, millions of homes around the country have entered foreclosure, pushing many families out of their homes and potentially forcing their children to move to new schools. Unfortunately, despite considerable attention to the causes and consequences of mortgage defaults, we understand little about the distribution and severity of these impacts on school children. This paper takes a step toward filling that gap through studying how foreclosures in New York City affect the mobility of public school children across schools. A significant body of research suggests that, in general, switching schools is costly for students, though the magnitude of the effect depends critically on the nature of the move and the quality of the origin and destination schools.

  • 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.

  • Foreclosed Properties in NYC: A Look at the Last 15 Years

    In 2009, New York City saw a record number of foreclosure filings, passing 20,000 for the first time since we started tracking foreclosures in early 1990s.  Yet little is known about what happens to these properties after they receive a foreclosure notice.  This report analyzes the outcomes of 1-4 family properties that entered foreclosure in New York City between 1993 and 2007, paying particular attention to trends in recent years.  The report identifies a current inventory of 1,750 bank-owned (termed Real Estate Owned or “REO” by lenders) properties citywide—up dramatically from about 290 at the end of 2006. While the overall number of REO properties in New York remains small compared to harder hit cities, the report finds that these properties are highly concentrated in Eastern Queens, Central Brooklyn, and the North Shore of Staten Island—not surprisingly, the same neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the mortgage crisis.