The inefficiency of refinancing: Why prepayment penalties are good for risky borrowers

Chris Mayer, Tomasz Piskorski, Alexei Tchistyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper provides a theoretical analysis of the efficiency of prepayment penalties in a dynamic competitive lending model with risky borrowers and costly default. When considering improvements in the borrower's creditworthiness as one of the reasons for refinancing mortgages, we show that refinancing penalties can be welfare improving and that they can be particularly beneficial to riskier borrowers in the form of lower mortgage rates, reduced defaults, and increased availability of credit. Thus, a high concentration of prepayment penalties among the riskiest borrowers can be an outcome of efficient equilibrium in a mortgage market. We also provide empirical evidence that is consistent with the key predictions of our model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-714
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Financial Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Inefficiency of refinancing
  • Mortgages
  • Prepayment penalties
  • Risky borrowers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management

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