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Urban decline and housing reinvestment: the role of construction costs and the supply side

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  • Joseph Gyourko
  • Albert Saiz

Abstract

Negative demand shocks have afflicted many American cities in the 20th century and are the main explanation for their decaying housing markets. But what is the role of housing supply? Rational entrepreneurs should not invest in new buildings and renovation when home values are below replacement cost. Households with an investment motive should behave similarly. Empirically, the authors find that construction costs are not very sensitive to building activity but do vary with local income, unionization rates in the construction sector, the level of local regulation, and region. They also document that the variance in building costs generates substantial variance in renovation expenditures across cities. Owner-occupied homes with market values below replacement costs spend about 50 percent less on renovation than similar homes with market values above construction costs. The authors also report on the distribution of the ratio of house value-to-construction cost across markets. The distribution is relatively flat in a number of declining cities, especially older manufacturing areas. In these places, a relatively modest 10 percent decline in replacement costs would find between 7-15 percent of the local housing stock moving from being valued below cost to above cost. Even though modest declines in construction costs are unlikely to change basic urban trends, the authors' results suggest they can be an important factor in determining whether various neighborhoods in declining cities will experience any significant reinvestment. In this respect, declining cities truly cannot afford to be expensive cities in terms of replacement costs: urban scholars and policy makers should begin to pay more attention to the cost side of cities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 03-9.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:03-9

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Keywords: Urban economics ; Construction industry ; Supply-side economics;

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References

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  1. Bogdon, Amy S., 1996. "Homeowner Renovation and Repair: The Decision to Hire Someone Else to Do the Project," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 323-350, December.
  2. Stephen E. Margolis, 1981. "Depreciation and Maintenance of Houses," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 57(1), pages 91-105.
  3. Mendelsohn, Robert, 1977. "Empirical evidence on home improvements," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 459-468, October.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & Jed Kolko & Albert Saiz, 2000. "Consumer City," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1901, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Richard B. Freeman, 1983. "Longitudinal Analyses of the Effects of Trade Unions," NBER Working Papers 1207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2001. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1931, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Arnott, Richard & Davidson, Russell & Pines, David, 1983. "Housing Quality, Maintenance and Rehabilitation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 467-94, July.
  8. Richard B. Freeman & James L. Medoff, 1983. "Trade Unions and Productivity: Some New Evidence on an Old Issue," NBER Working Papers 1249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Joseph Gyourko & Joseph Tracy, 2003. "Using home maintenance and repairs to smooth variable earnings," Staff Reports 168, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  10. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
  11. Nelson, Forrest & Olson, Lawrence, 1978. "Specification and Estimation of a Simultaneous-Equation Model with Limited Dependent Variables," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 19(3), pages 695-709, October.
  12. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2003. "The impact of building restrictions on housing affordability," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Jun, pages 21-39.
  13. Freeman, Richard B & Medoff, James L, 1981. "The Impact of the Percentage Organized on Union and Nonunion Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(4), pages 561-72, November.
  14. Reschovsky, James D, 1992. "An Empirical Investigation into Homeowner Demand for Home Upkeep and Improvement," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 55-71, March.
  15. Thomas P. Boehm & Keith R. Ihlanfeldt, 1986. "The Improvement Expenditures of Urban Homeowners: An Empirical Analysis," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 14(1), pages 48-60.
  16. Goodman, John Jr. & Ittner, John B., 1992. "The accuracy of home owners' estimates of house value," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 339-357, December.
  17. Stuart S. Rosenthal, 1999. "Residential Buildings And The Cost Of Construction: New Evidence On The Efficiency Of The Housing Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 288-302, May.
  18. Knight, John R. & Sirmans, C. F., 1996. "Depreciation, Maintenance, and Housing Prices," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 369-389, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Kazi Saiful ISLAM, 2009. "Challenges Of Urban Planning At The Face Of Counter-Urbanization," Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management, Research Centre in Public Administration and Public Services, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 4(2(11)), pages 152-165, May.
  2. Arthur Grimes & Suzi Kerr & Andrew Aitken, 2005. "Bi-Directional Impacts of Economic, Social and Environmental Changes and the New Zealand Housing Market," Urban/Regional 0509012, EconWPA.
  3. Bento, Antonio M. & Franco, Sofia F. & Kaffine, Daniel, 2011. "Welfare Effects of Anti-Sprawl Policies in the Presence of Urban Decline," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 40(3), December.

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