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Unifying empirical and theoretical models of housing supply

  • Christopher J. Mayer
  • C. Tsuriel Somerville

Housing supply plays an important role in the volatility of macroeconomic cycles and the speed with which house prices respond to changes in demand, yet it is understudied in the current literature. In this paper we present and estimate a new model of the supply of residential construction that is consistent with the theoretical treatment of land development and urban growth. This model shows that new housing construction is best described as a function of changes in house prices and costs rather than as a function of the levels of those variables. Previous research that uses the price levels specification has the drawback that a one-time increase in the number of households that raises the level of real house prices leads to a permanent jump in new construction and thus an infinite increase in the stock of housing. The empirical tests of the model support our new specification, which performs better than alternative models in out-of-sample forecasts. Our estimates suggest a fairly moderate response of supply to house price changes. A 10 percent rise in real house prices leads to an 0.8 percent increase in the housing stock, which is accompanied by a temporary 180 percent increase in the average number of quarterly starts, spread over four quarters.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 96-12.

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Date of creation: 1996
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:96-12
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  1. Alan S. Blinder & Louis J. Maccini, 1991. "Taking Stock: A Critical Assessment of Recent Research on Inventories," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 73-96, Winter.
  2. Richard Arnott & Frank D. Lewis, 1977. "The Transition of Land to Urban Use," Working Papers 267, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Malpezzi, Stephen & Maclennan, Duncan, 2001. "The Long-Run Price Elasticity of Supply of New Residential Construction in the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 278-306, September.
  5. Olsen, Edgar O., 1987. "The demand and supply of housing service: A critical survey of the empirical literature," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 25, pages 989-1022 Elsevier.
  6. Wheaton, William C., 1982. "Urban residential growth under perfect foresight," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-21, July.
  7. 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.
  8. Capozza, Dennis R. & Helsley, Robert W., 1990. "The stochastic city," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 187-203, September.
  9. Granger, C. W. J. & Newbold, P., 1974. "Spurious regressions in econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 111-120, July.
  10. Genesove, David & Mayer, Christopher J, 1997. "Equity and Time to Sale in the Real Estate Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 255-69, June.
  11. Capozza, Dennis R. & Helsley, Robert W., 1989. "The fundamentals of land prices and urban growth," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 295-306, November.
  12. Christopher J. Mayer & C. Tsuriel Somerville, 1996. "Regional housing supply and credit constraints," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Nov, pages 39-51.
  13. Stover, Mark Edward, 1986. "The price elasticity of the supply of single-family detached urban housing," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 331-340, November.
  14. DiPasquale, Denise & Somerville, C. Tsuriel, 1995. "Do House Price Indices Based on Transacting Units Represent the Entire Stock? Evidence from the American Housing Survey," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 195-229, September.
  15. DiPasquale Denise & Wheaton William C., 1994. "Housing Market Dynamics and the Future of Housing Prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 1-27, January.
  16. Quigg, Laura, 1993. " Empirical Testing of Real Option-Pricing Models," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(2), pages 621-40, June.
  17. Jon Faust, 1993. "Near observational equivalence and unit root processes: formal concepts and implications," International Finance Discussion Papers 447, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  18. Topel, Robert H & Rosen, Sherwin, 1988. "Housing Investment in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 718-40, August.
  19. Smith, Lawrence B & Rosen, Kenneth T & Fallis, George, 1988. "Recent Developments in Economic Models of Housing Markets," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 29-64, March.
  20. James R. Follain, Jr., 1979. "The Price Elasticity of the Long-Run Supply of New Housing Construction," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 54(2), pages 190-199.
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