New research suggests buyers applying for mortgage loans immediately after house hunting often make poor choices—sometimes selecting the first loan option presented, regardless of the terms with which it is associated.
MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY FOR CONSUMERS
- The research, conducted by two George Washington University instructors, found “cognitive resource depletion” to be a determining factor in why some borrowers make poor choices in selecting a home loan. Cognitive resource depletion implies willpower is a limited resource that can be exhausted. The study suggests the depletion of willpower may be one reason borrowers choose loan products such as pick-a-pay mortgages, interest-only loans, loans with balloon payments, and mortgages with negative amortization.
- To test the theory of cognitive resource depletion, two test groups were created. One was presented with an online-shopping simulation, the other was not. The group completing the simulation then was tasked with selecting a set of mortgage alternatives. The second test group only was asked to select a mortgage product. Almost half of those participating in the house-shopping exercise selected a higher-risk mortgage, while less than one in five of those who did not participate in the experience selected a higher-risk mortgage.
- Although most sales contracts require buyers secure financing within a designated time period, the authors of the study recommend even financially savvy borrowers institute a waiting period of at least two days after selecting a home to purchase before applying for a home loan. To address this, the authors and most real estate professionals advise home buyers apply for a home loan and receive preapproval prior to searching for a house.
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