Does getting a mortgage affect consumer credit use?

General Information

Does getting a mortgage affect consumer credit use?
Scott Fulford and Joanna Stavins
Publication Type
Journal paper
Review of Economics of the Household
Buying a house changes a household’s balance sheet by simultaneously reducing liquidity and introducing mortgage payments, which may leave the household more exposed to other shocks. We examine how this change impacts consumer credit beyond the mortgage. Using a large panel, we show that on acquiring a mortgage, credit card debt increases by about $1500 in the short term, severe delinquencies increase by 2.2 percentage points, and credit card utilization—the fraction of a consumer’s credit card limit that is used—increases by 11 percentage points. In the long term, credit card balances increase by $3900 and delinquencies by 9.1 percentage points. In our sample period before the 2008 financial crisis, credit limits increased faster than debt in the long run, pushing down long-term utilization. After the financial crisis, debt increased faster than credit limits in the long run, and credit card utilization rates rose upon the acquisition of a new mortgage, consistent with larger down payments leaving households more constrained