Friday, May 2, 2008

Barr, Mullainathan, and Shafir on Behaviorally Informed Home Mortgage Regulation

Michael S. Barr (U. Michigan), Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard), and Eldar Shafir (Princeton) have posted Behaviorally Informed Home Mortgage Regulation on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

Choosing a mortgage is one of the biggest financial decisions an American consumer will make. Yet it can be a complicated one, especially in today‘s environment where mortgages vary in dimensions and unique features. This complexity has raised regulatory issues. Should some features be regulated? Should product disclosure be regulated? And most basic of all, is there a rationale for regulation or will the market solve the problem? Current regulation of home mortgages is largely stuck in two competing models of regulation - disclosure and usury or product restrictions - neither of which take adequate account of behavioral psychology or market incentives. This paper seeks to use insights from both psychology and economics to provide a framework for understanding both these models as well as to suggest fundamentally new models. We understand outcomes as an equilibrium interaction between individuals with specific psychologies and firms that respond to those psychologies within specific markets. Regulation must then account for failures in this equilibrium.

Ben Barros

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May 2, 2008 in Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Oliveri on Landlord-Tenant Issues and Anti-Illegal Immigrant Ordinances

Rigel Christine Oliveri (U. Missouri) has posted Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Landlords, Latinos, Anti-Illegal Immigrant Ordinances, and Housing Discrimination on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

In the face of federal inability to effectively police our national borders and to remove unauthorized immigrants, many local governments have recently sought to take measures into their own hands by passing anti-illegal immigrant ("AII") ordinances. These ordinances usually contain a combination of provisions restricting housing, employment, and public benefits for unauthorized immigrants, among other things.

This Article focuses on AII provisions that are targeted at private rental housing, which typically take the form of sanctions against landlords who rent to unauthorized immigrants. Faced with penalties for renting to unauthorized immigrants, landlords have the clear incentive to screen their tenants' immigration status. However, given the difficulty of ascertaining legal status (and the absence of any reliable mechanism for doing so), landlords are instead likely to resort to short-cuts, such as refusing to rent to "foreign-seeming" people and discriminating based on accent, surname, appearance, or other ethnic markers. As a result, these restrictions are likely to (1) cause landlords to violate the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin, and (2) lead to discrimination against all ethnic minority groups whose members look or sound "foreign," regardless of their immigration or citizenship status. In addition to the violations of federal fair housing law that are likely to occur, there are significant public policy arguments against immigration-related housing restrictions.

Federal intervention is therefore necessary. Congress must act to prevent municipalities from enacting and enforcing such restrictions. Moreover, Congress must itself resist pressure to enact immigration-related housing restrictions as a matter of national policy. But this is not enough. Historic and current levels of housing discrimination against national origin minorities and immigrants indicate that these groups are already in need of greater protection, yet the law contains significant gaps in coverage. Both alienage and legal status remain permissible bases for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. As long as this is the case, discrimination against national origin minorities who are citizens and legally present non-citizens is encouraged to continue. Thus, the Fair Housing Act should be amended to contain explicit protection for both alienage and legal status.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

May 2, 2008 in Real Estate Transactions, Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Property Section Call For Papers: Hernando de Soto and Property in a Market Economy

800pxsan_diego_skyline01 Call for Papers—Hernando de Soto and Property in a Market Economy

Extended Program of the AALS Section on Property Law

The Section on Property Law has proposed a three-hour extended program on “Hernando de Soto and Property in a Market Economy” at the AALS annual meeting in San Diego on Wednesday, January 7, 2009.  The papers presented during the program will take a wide range of approaches to applying the significance of Mr. de Soto’s work to property issues that arise in a mature market economy such as the United States.  Speakers tentatively scheduled to participate include Greg Alexander (Cornell), Nicole Garnett (Notre Dame); Eduardo Penalver (Cornell), Carol Rose (University of Arizona), and Lior Strahilevitz (University of Chicago).  Tentative arrangements have been made to publish the papers from the panel in a book from Ashgate Publishing.

One or more speakers for the panel will be selected through this call for papers.  Because of limited time slots available at the AALS meeting, some proposals may be accepted for publication in the book but not given a speaking slot.  Proposals should consist of a 250-500 word abstract, and should be submitted by June 15, 2008 by e-mail to D. Benjamin Barros, Chair of the Property Section, at

As is always the case with AALS annual meeting programs, presenters must pay their own travel and accommodation expenses, typically with the support of their home institutions.

Ben Barros

San Diego photo from PD Photo via Wikicommons

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April 28, 2008 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eminent Domain's Impact on Minorities

April 28, 2008 in Takings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)