Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics , Vol. 65, pp. 419–450, 2022

Buildings' Energy Efficiency and the Probability of Mortgage Default: The Dutch Case

We investigate the relationship between building energy efficiency and the probability of mortgage default. To this end, we construct a novel panel data set by combining Dutch loan-level mortgage information with provisional building energy ratings provided by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. Using the logit regression and the extended Cox model, we find that building energy efficiency is associated with a lower probability of mortgage default. There are three possible channels that might drive the results: (i) personal borrower characteristics captured by the choice of an energy-efficient building, (ii) improvements in building performance that could help to free-up the borrower’s disposable income, and (iii) improvements in dwelling value that lower the loan-to-value ratio. We address all three channels. In particular, we find that the default rate is lower for borrowers with less disposable income. The results hold for a battery of robustness checks. This suggests that the energy efficiency ratings complement borrowers’ credit information and that a lender using information from both sources can make superior lending decisions than a lender using only traditional credit information. These aspects are not only crucial for shaping future energy policy, but also have implications for the risk management of European financial institutions.