July 2021

How Resilient Is Mortgage Credit Supply? Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Andreas Fuster, Aurel Hizmo, Lauren Lambie-Hanson, James Vickery, Paul Willen


We study the evolution of USmortgage credit supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the mortgage market experienced a historic boom in 2020, we show there was also a large and sustained increase in intermediation markups that limited the pass-through of lowrates to borrowers. Markups typically rise during periods of peak demand, but this historical relationship explains only part of the large increase during the pandemic. We present evidence that pandemic-related labor market frictions and operational bottlenecks contributed to unusually inelastic credit supply, and that technology-based lenders, likely less constrained by these frictions, gained market share. Rising forbearance and default risk did not significantly affect rates on “plainvanilla” conforming mortgages, but it did lead to higher spreads on mortgages without government guarantees and loans to the riskiest borrowers. Mortgage-backed securities purchases by the Federal Reserve also supported the flow of credit in the conforming segment.

Keywords: mortgage, credit, financial intermediation, fintech, COVID-19. 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2021.048

PDF: Full Paper

Disclaimer: The economic research that is linked from this page represents the views of the authors and does not indicate concurrence either by other members of the Board's staff or by the Board of Governors. The economic research and their conclusions are often preliminary and are circulated to stimulate discussion and critical comment.

The Board values having a staff that conducts research on a wide range of economic topics and that explores a diverse array of perspectives on those topics. The resulting conversations in academia, the economic policy community, and the broader public are important to sharpening our collective thinking.

Back to Top
Last Update: July 30, 2021