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The effects of the 2012 Spanish law reform to protect mortgage debtors

González-Val, Rafael (2020): The effects of the 2012 Spanish law reform to protect mortgage debtors.

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Abstract

We examine the effects of the legal reform passed in 2012 in Spain to protect mortgage debtors. Under the new regime, it is difficult for low-income debtors who meet certain requirements to be evicted. In the case of default, the bank is forced to offer the debtor a restructuring of the debt, or the debtor can even, as a last resort, transfer the property to the bank as an alternative to having the lender foreclose on it, thus being allowed to stay in the property as a tenant and paying a reduced rent, and avoiding eviction even after foreclosure. We consider quarterly data from 50 Spanish provinces (NUTS III regions) from 2001 to 2019(Q3). We use panel data models with regional, year, and quarter fixed effects, linear and quadratic region-specific time trends, and other relevant control variables at the regional level (house prices, inflation, and unemployment rates), and our results reveal that the reform significantly reduced the number of foreclosures, but that this effect was transitory, fading six years after the reform. However, the negative effect on the mortgage loans market was permanent throughout the period under consideration.

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