NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Failure to Refinance

Benjamin J. Keys, Devin G. Pope, Jaren C. Pope

NBER Working Paper No. 20401
Issued in August 2014
NBER Program(s):   LS

Households that fail to refinance their mortgage when interest rates decline can lose out on substantial savings. Based on a large random sample of outstanding U.S. mortgages in December of 2010, we estimate that approximately 20% of households for whom refinancing would be optimal and who appeared unconstrained to do so, had not taken advantage of the lower rates. We estimate the present-discounted cost to the median household who fails to refinance to be approximately $11,500, making this a particularly large consumer financial mistake. To shed light on possible mechanisms and corroborate our main findings, we also provide results from a mail campaign targeted at a sample of homeowners that could benefit from refinancing.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20401

 
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