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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. 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.
  2. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1990. "Forecasting Prices and Excess Returns in the Housing Market," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 18(3), pages 253-273.
  3. 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.
  4. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1995. "The Limits of Arbitrage," NBER Working Papers 5167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Joseph Gyourko & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2013. "Superstar Cities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 167-99, 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. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2006. "Housing Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 12787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. James M. Poterba, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-Occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-752.
  12. Joseph Gyourko & Joseph Tracy, 2003. "Using home maintenance and repairs to smooth variable earnings," Staff Reports 168, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  13. Jonathan McCarthy & Richard Peach, 2004. "Are home prices the next "bubble"?," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Dec, pages 1-17.
  14. 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.
  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.
  16. Todd Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2005. "Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 763-789.
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