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Working Papers

June 2010, No. 10-11

The Role of Non-Owner-Occupied Homes in the Current Housing and Foreclosure Cycle

Breck Robinson and Richard M. Todd

Non-occupant homeowners differ from owner occupants in that they tend to have lower-risk credit characteristics, such as higher credit scores, but may also have weaker incentives to maintain mortgage payments when housing values fall. During the recent housing boom, the share of mortgage borrowing by non-occupant owners was relatively high in states where home values appreciated relatively rapidly. After the housing boom, foreclosures on non-occupant mortgages in several Midwestern and Northeastern states reflected primarily a high rate of foreclosure per mortgage, not a high volume of mortgages to non-occupants. The reverse held true in some coastal and mountain states. Nevada and Florida have experienced the greatest impact overall, because they have both a high volume of mortgages to non-occupant owners and a high rate of foreclosure on those mortgages.