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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
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp08-017
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  1. James M. Poterba, 1983. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-occupied Housing: An Asset Market Approach," Working papers 339, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Joseph Gyourko & Eduardo Morales & Charles Nathanson & Edward Glaeser, 2011. "Housing Dynamics," 2011 Meeting Papers 307, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Todd Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2003. "Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk," NBER Working Papers 9462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Joseph Gyourko & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2013. "Superstar Cities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 167-99, November.
  9. Robert J. Shiller, 1980. "Do Stock Prices Move Too Much to be Justified by Subsequent Changes in Dividends?," NBER Working Papers 0456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1988. "The Efficiency of the Market for Single-Family Homes," NBER Working Papers 2506, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1995. "The Limits of Arbitrage," NBER Working Papers 5167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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