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Can Cheap Credit Explain the Housing Boom?

In: Housing and the Financial Crisis

  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Joshua D. Gottlieb
  • Joseph Gyourko

Between 1996 and 2006, real housing prices rose by 53 percent according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency price index. One explanation of this boom is that it was caused by easy credit in the form of low real interest rates, high loan-to-value levels and permissive mortgage approvals. We revisit the standard user cost model of housing prices and conclude that the predicted impact of interest rates on prices is much lower once the model is generalized to include mean-reverting interest rates, mobility, prepayment, elastic housing supply, and credit-constrained home buyers. The modest predicted impact of interest rates on prices is in line with empirical estimates, and it suggests that lower real rates can explain only one-fifth of the rise in prices from 1996 to 2006. We also find no convincing evidence that changes in approval rates or loan-to-value levels can explain the bulk of the changes in house prices, but definitive judgments on those mechanisms cannot be made without better corrections for the endogeneity of borrowers' decisions to apply for mortgages.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Edward L. Glaeser & Todd Sinai, 2013. "Housing and the Financial Crisis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number glae11-1, June.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12622.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12622
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496, November.
    2. Glaeser, Edward & Saiz, Albert & Gyourko, Joseph, 2008. "Housing Supply and Housing Bubbles," Scholarly Articles 2962640, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    3. Donald R. Haurin & Susan M. Wachter & Patric H. Hendershott, 1995. "Wealth Accumulation and Housing Choices of Young Households: An Exploratory Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5070, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing High House Prices: Bubbles, Fundamentals and Misperceptions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 67-92, Fall.
    5. Carlos Garriga, 2009. "Lending standards in mortgage markets," Economic Synopses, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    6. Ferreira, Fernando & Gyourko, Joseph & Tracy, Joseph, 2010. "Housing busts and household mobility," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 34-45, July.
    7. Albert Saiz, 2003. "Room in the Kitchen for the Melting Pot: Immigration and Rental Prices," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 502-521, August.
    8. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2006. "Housing Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 12787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Keys, Benjamin J. & Mukherjee, Tanmoy & Seru, Amit & Vig, Vikrant, 2009. "Financial regulation and securitization: Evidence from subprime loans," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 700-720, July.
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