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Working Papers

July 2009, No. 09-10R

Recourse and Residential Mortgage Default: Theory and Evidence from U.S. States (Revised June 2010)

Andra C. Ghent and Marianna Kudlyak

We analyze the impact of lender recourse on mortgage defaults theoretically and empirically across U.S. states. We study the effect of state laws regarding deficiency judgments in a model where lenders can use the threat of a deficiency judgment to deter default or to shorten the default process. Empirically, we find that recourse decreases the probability of default when there is a substantial likelihood that a borrower has negative home equity. We also find that, in states that allow deficiency judgments, defaults are more likely to occur through a lender-friendly procedure, such as a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

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