Empirical research on mortgage default in the single-family market has focused on the value of the borrower's put option using house price indices to estimate contemporaneous loan-to-value ratio or the probability of negative equity. But since the borrower possesses the option to increase leverage by taking on additional debt secured by junior liens subsequent to loan origination (a phenomenon termed here equity dilution), even a perfect house price adjustment cannot be expected to accurately measure changes in borrower equity over time. Since junior liens are generally unobservable to senior debt holders, proxies are required in empirical applications. This paper employs an independent estimate of junior lien probability developed from the 1998 Survey of Consumer Finances combined with loan level mortgage performance data to examine the role junior liens play in increasing default risk.