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New Cityscape Symposium Examines COVID-19 and Housing Markets

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December 13, 2022  

New Cityscape Examines COVID-19 and the Housing Markets

The newest edition of Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research discusses the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on housing markets. This issue was guest edited by William M. Doerner and R. Kevin Winkler. During the COVID-19 pandemic, various federal agencies enacted policies to promote the safety and soundness of their mission-driven activities. Strong housing markets granted early and necessary stability for wavering macroeconomic conditions, and an economic crisis was averted by providing debt payment relief and large-scale injections of financial liquidity.

Greta Li, David Low, and Judith Ricks examine borrower and mortgage characteristics among borrowers in forbearance during the COVID-19 pandemic. They determine that Black and Hispanic borrowers were severely overrepresented among borrowers in forbearance compared with their representation in the overall sample. The study offers a descriptive baseline useful for understanding the effects of pandemic mortgage policy on borrower transitions out of forbearance programs.

Lan Shi examines the effectiveness of COVID-19 mortgage forbearance programs using data from the largest national bank servicers and finds that the forbearance entry rate was higher for borrowers with lower credit scores and in areas with higher unemployment rates. Although borrowers exited forbearance via different forms, a large proportion delayed payments of the forborne amount at maturity, refinance, or the property sale.

Joshua Bosshardt, William M. Doerner, and Fan Xu examine factors affecting the use of appraisal waivers for mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the effect of appraisal waivers on prepayment speeds. They find that the alignment of Freddie Mac’s eligibility criteria with those of Fannie Mae around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with an increase in the use of appraisal waivers.

William M. Doerner and Wenzhen Lin analyze how seasonal adjustments function and find that the seasonality in the housing market varies across geographies. The authors use the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s entire suite of public indices and offer new adjustments for more than 400 metropolitan areas and other geographies.

Justin Contat and Malcolm Rogers document changes in national housing supply and liquidity during the COVID-19 pandemic using a suite of monthly indices, such as mean and median time on the market, proportion of homes sold, and econometric indices that can address censoring and unobserved heterogeneity. They find that the start of the pandemic saw a supply decrease, followed by an immediate and sustained price increase.

Elaine Ng, Jeremy Albright, Holi Urbas, and Kurt Usowski identify and analyze relocation patterns between counties of different population density types within metropolitan areas following the onset of the pandemic.

Refereed Papers

This issue of Cityscape includes one refereed paper.

Dana K. Goplerud, Sarah G. Gensheimer, Benjamin K. Schneider, Matthew D. Eisenberg, Genee S. Smith, and Craig Evan Pollack examine whether neighborhoods with Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties have higher levels of industrial air pollution than comparable neighborhoods without LIHTC properties. The results provide the first estimates of the association between LIHTC properties and industrial air pollution at the national level and suggest that the disproportionate burden of air pollution exposure among LIHTC residents may be mediated by neighborhood conditions such as poverty and rental market quality.


Articles in Cityscape’s regularly appearing departments include:

Data Shop: Rural Definitions Matter: Implications for HUD Assistance Programs by Peter J. Han.

Foreign Exchange: Land Value Capture Across the Globe by Jaebeum Cho, Luis Quintanilla Tamez, Enrique Silva, Matteo Schleicher, Rüdiger Ahrend, and Andres Fuentes Hutfilter.

Graphic Detail: What Do Visualizations of Administrative Address Data Show About the Camp Fire in Paradise, California? by Alexander Din.

Affordable Design: 2022 Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition: The Housing Authority of the City of Atlanta, Georgia by Alaina M. Stern.

Impact: Increased 40-Year Term for Loan Modifications by Maria Chelo Manlagnit De Venecia, Janet Li, and Alastair McFarlane.

Policy Briefs: What Happens When You Assume by Kevin A. Park; Real and Personal: The Effect of Land in Manufactured Housing Loan Default Risk by Kevin A. Park; Better Housing: FHA Title I Property Improvement Loans by Kevin A. Park.

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