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Amenity-Based Housing Affordability Indexes

  • Lynn M. Fisher
  • Henry O. Pollakowski
  • Jeffrey Zabel

The recent slump notwithstanding, substantial increases in house prices in many parts of the United States have served to highlight housing affordability for moderate-income households, especially in high-cost, supply-constrained coastal cities such as Boston. In this article, we develop a new measure of area affordability that characterizes the supply of housing that is affordable to different households in different locations of a metropolitan region. Key to our approach is the explicit recognition that the price/rent of a dwelling is affected by its location. Hence, we develop an affordability methodology that accounts for job accessibility, school quality and safety. This allows us to produce a menu of town-level indexes of adjusted housing affordability. The adjustments are based on obtaining implicit prices of these amenities from a hedonic price equation. We thus use data from a wide variety of sources to rank 141 towns in the greater Boston metropolitan area based on their adjusted affordability. Taking households earning 80% of area median income as an example, we find that consideration of town-level amenities leads to major changes relative to a typical assessment of affordability. Copyright (c) 2009 American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association.

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Article provided by American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association in its journal Real Estate Economics.

Volume (Year): 37 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 705-746

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Handle: RePEc:bla:reesec:v:37:y:2009:i:4:p:705-746
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