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Measuring housing affordability: Looking beyond the median

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  • Gan, Quan
  • Hill, Robert J.

Abstract

We draw a distinction between the concepts of purchase affordability (whether a household is able to borrow enough funds to purchase a house) and repayment affordability (the burden imposed on a household of repaying the mortgage). We operationalize this distinction in the context of a new methodology for constructing affordability measures that draws on the value-at-risk concept and takes account of the whole distribution of household income and house prices rather than just the median. Empirically we find that the distinction between purchase and repayment affordability can be pronounced. In the Sydney prime mortgage market over the period 1996-2006, repayment affordability deteriorated very significantly while purchase affordability remained quite stable. This difference can be attributed to the loosening of credit constraints in the mortgage market which it seems has carried through primarily into higher house prices rather than an improvement in purchase affordability. We also show how median house-price-to-income ratio measures of affordability can be extended to take account of the whole distribution of income and house prices, and how as a result of differential skewness in the house price and income distributions the housing affordability problem may be significantly worse for lower income households than suggested by standard median measures.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Housing Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 115-125

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhouse:v:18:y:2009:i:2:p:115-125

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622881

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Keywords: Housing affordability Affordability at risk Affordable limit Mortgage market Housing boom Price-to-income ratio Skewness;

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References

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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, . "The Impact of Zoning on Housing Affordability," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 395, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Piazzesi, Monika & Schneider, Martin & Tuzel, Selale, 2007. "Housing, consumption and asset pricing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 531-569, March.
  3. Luci Ellis, 2006. "Housing and Housing Finance: The View from Australia and Beyond," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2006-12, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  4. Quigley, John M. & Raphael, Steven, 2004. "Is Housing Unaffordable? Why Isn't It More Affordable?," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt1vp9j3k0, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
  5. Liu, Benjamin & Skully, Michael, 2005. "The determinants of mortgage yield spread differentials: Securitization," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(4-5), pages 314-333, October.
  6. Robert J. Hill & Daniel Melser, 2008. "Hedonic Imputation And The Price Index Problem: An Application To Housing," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(4), pages 593-609, October.
  7. Englund, Peter & Quigley, John M. & Redfearn, Christian L., 1998. "Improved Price Indexes for Real Estate: Measuring the Course of Swedish Housing Prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 171-196, September.
  8. Diewert, Erwin, 2007. "The Paris OECD-IMF Workshop on Real Estate Price Indexes: Conclusions and Future Directions," Economics working papers diewert-07-01-03-08-12-12, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 31 Jan 2007.
  9. Vigdor, Jacob L., 2006. "Liquidity constraints and housing prices: Theory and evidence from the VA Mortgage Program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1579-1600, September.
  10. Jonathan McCarthy & Richard W. Peach, 2004. "Are home prices the next "bubble"?," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Dec, pages 1-17.
  11. Souphala Chomsisengphet & Anthony Pennington-Cross, 2006. "The evolution of the subprime mortgage market," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 31-56.
  12. Engle, Robert F. & Manganelli, Simone, 2001. "Value at risk models in finance," Working Paper Series 0075, European Central Bank.
  13. Majumder, Amita & Chakravarty, Satya Ranjan, 1990. "Distribution of Personal Income: Development of a New Model and Its Application to U.S. Income Data," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(2), pages 189-96, April-Jun.
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Cited by:
  1. I-Chun Tsai & Chien-Wen Peng, 2012. "A panel data analysis for housing affordability in Taiwan," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 335-350, April.
  2. Gottlieb, Paul D. & Rudel, Thomas & O'Neill, Karen & McDermott, Melanie, 2011. "Is agricultural zoning exclusionary?," 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 103562, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  3. Antje Hildebrandt & Reiner Martin & Katharina Steiner & Karin Wagner, 2012. "Residential Property Markets in CESEE EU Member States," Focus on European Economic Integration, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 1, pages 8-30.
  4. Ralph McLaughlin, 2012. "New housing supply elasticity in Australia: a comparison of dwelling types," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 595-618, April.

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