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Arbitrage in Housing Markets

  • Glaeser, Edward L.

    (Harvard U)

  • Gyourko, Joseph

    (U of Pennsylvania)

Urban economists understand housing prices with a spatial equilibrium approach that assumes people must be indifferent across locations. Since the spatial no arbitrage condition is inherently imprecise, other economists have turned to different no arbitrage conditions, such as the prediction that individuals must be indifferent between owning and renting. This paper argues the predictions from these non-spatial, financial no arbitrage conditions are also quite imprecise. Owned homes are extremely different from rental units and owners are quite different from renters. The unobserved costs of home owning such as maintenance are also quite large. Furthermore, risk aversion and the high volatility of housing prices compromise short-term attempts to arbitrage by delaying home buying. We conclude that housing cannot be understood with a narrowly financial approach that ignores space any more than it can be understood with a narrowly spatial approach that ignores asset markets.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp08-017.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp08-017
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  1. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing High House Prices: Bubbles, Fundamentals, and Misperceptions," NBER Working Papers 11643, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Case, Karl E & Shiller, Robert J, 1989. "The Efficiency of the Market for Single-Family Homes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 125-37, March.
  3. 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.
  4. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1990. "Forecasting Prices and Excess Returns in the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 3368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2006. "Housing Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 12787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Todd Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2005. "Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 763-789, May.
  7. Poterba, James M, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-52, November.
  8. Todd Sinai, 1997. "Taxation, User Cost, and Household Mobility Decisions," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 303, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Henderson, J Vernon & Ioannides, Yannis M, 1983. "A Model of Housing Tenure Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 98-113, March.
  10. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1987. "Prices of single-family homes since 1970: new indexes for four cities," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Sep, pages 45-56.
  11. Joseph Gyourko & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2006. "Superstar Cities," NBER Working Papers 12355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Joseph Gyourko & Joseph Tracy, 2006. "Using Home Maintenance and Repairs to Smooth Variable Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 736-747, November.
  13. 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.
  14. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1995. "The Limits of Arbitrage," NBER Working Papers 5167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Shiller, Robert J, 1981. "Do Stock Prices Move Too Much to be Justified by Subsequent Changes in Dividends?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 421-36, June.
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