Movers and Shuckers: Interdependent Prepayment Decisions



We model competing risks of mortgage termination where the borrower faces a repeated choice to continue to pay, refinance the loan, move or default. Most previous empirical work on mortgage prepayment has ignored the distinction between prepayments triggered by refinancing and moving, combining them into a single prepayment rate. We show that financial considerations are the primary drivers of the refinance choice while homeowner characteristics have more influence on the move decision. We demonstrate that these differences are statistically significant and that combining these two distinct choices into a single measure of prepayment shifts coefficients toward zero and produces inaccurate predictions of aggregate termination rates. For example, a combined model underestimates the effect of the market price of the loan on refinancing; it misses entirely the opposite effects of borrower income on moving and refinancing. Our results suggest that existing prepayment models are inconsistent predictors of mobility-driven prepayment and underestimate the effect of market conditions and borrower characteristics on refinancing and housing decisions. Our findings have great significance to mortgage investors because mobility-driven prepayments are likely to be a more significant source of prepayments in thenext decade.