Neighborhood social influence effects have been shown to affect publicly observable decisions, but their role in private decisions, like refinancing, remains unclear. Using precisely geolocated data and a nearest-neighbor research design, we find that households are 7 percent more likely to refinance if a neighbor within 50 meters has recently refinanced. Consistent with a word-of-mouth mechanism, social influence effects are weaker when neighbors are farther away and non-existent for non-occupants. Our results illustrate the importance of the proximate community for household wealth accumulation and the transmission of monetary policy.
Household Mortgage Refinancing Decisions Are Neighbor Influenced
WP 21-16 – Can social influence effects help explain regional heterogeneity in refinancing activity?