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What drives housing prices?

  • James A. Kahn
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    This paper develops a growth model with land, housing services, and other goods that is capable of explaining a substantial portion of the movements in housing prices over the past forty years. Under certainty, the model exhibits a balanced aggregate growth, but with underlying sectoral change. The paper introduces a Markov regime-switching specification for productivity growth in the nonhousing sector and shows that such regime switches are a plausible candidate for explaining - both qualitatively and quantitatively - the large low-frequency changes in housing price trends. In particular, the model shows how housing prices can have a "bubbly" appearance in which housing wealth rises faster than income for an extended period, then collapses and experiences an extended decline. The paper also uses micro data to calibrate a key cross-elasticity parameter that governs the relationship between productivity growth and home price appreciation. Combined with a realistic model of learning about the productivity process, the model is able to capture the medium- and low-frequency fluctuations of both price and quantity from the residential sector. Finally, the model suggests that the current downturn in the housing sector was triggered by a productivity slowdown that may have begun in 2004, an event that could reasonably have been viewed as highly unlikely by investors and mortgage issuers in the early part of the decade.

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    File URL: http://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/sr345.html
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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 345.

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    Date of creation: 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:345
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    1. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi, 1991. "The Allocation of Capital and Time over the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1188-214, December.
    2. Hanno Lustig & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2006. "Can Housing Collateral Explain Long-Run Swings in Asset Returns?," NBER Working Papers 12766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jonathan Heathcote & Morris Davis, 2004. "The Price and Quantity of Residential Land in the United States," 2004 Meeting Papers 32, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. James A. Kahn & Robert W. Rich, 2003. "Tracking the new economy: using growth theory to detect changes in trend productivity," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    5. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Weil, David N., 1989. "The baby boom, the baby bust, and the housing market," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 235-258, May.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven E. Saks, 2005. "Why Have Housing Prices Gone Up?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 329-333, May.
    7. Jonathan Heathcote, 2003. "Housing and the Business Cycle," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-21, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
    8. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Ellwood, David T, 1979. "An Empirical Reconciliation of Micro and Grouped Estimates of the Demand for Housing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(2), pages 199-205, May.
    9. Robert F. Martin, 2005. "The baby boom: predictability in house prices and interest rates," International Finance Discussion Papers 847, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    10. Monika Piazzesi & Martin Schneider & Selale Tuzel, 2006. "Housing, Consumption, and Asset Pricing," NBER Working Papers 12036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Morris A. Davis, 2010. "housing and the business cycle," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Palgrave Macmillan.
    12. L. Rachel Ngai & Christopher A. Pissarides, 2007. "Structural Change in a Multisector Model of Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 429-443, March.
    13. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Alexander Michaelides & Kalin Nikolov, 2010. "Winners and Losers in House Markets," Working Papers 2010-5, Central Bank of Cyprus.
    14. 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.
    15. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Alexander Michaelides & Kalin Nikolov, 2007. " Winners and Losers in Housing Markets," CDMA Conference Paper Series 0705, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
    16. Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Pierre-Olivier Weill, 2010. "Why Has House Price Dispersion Gone Up?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1567-1606.
    17. Hanushek, Eric A & Quigley, John M, 1980. "What Is the Price Elasticity of Housing Demand?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 449-54, August.
    18. Edge, Rochelle M. & Laubach, Thomas & Williams, John C., 2007. "Learning and shifts in long-run productivity growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2421-2438, November.
    19. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 2003. "Is There a Bubble in the Housing Market?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(2), pages 299-362.
    20. Tomasz Piskorski & Alexei Tchistyi, 2011. "Stochastic House Appreciation and Optimal Mortgage Lending," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(5), pages 1407-1446.
    21. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Alexander Michaelides & Kalin Nikolov, 2011. "Winners and Losers in Housing Markets," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 43, pages 255-296, 03.
    22. Orazio Attanasio & Laura Blow & Robert Hamilton & Andrew Leicester, 2005. "Consumption, house prices and expectations," Bank of England working papers 271, Bank of England.
    23. Baumol, William J, 1972. "Macroeconomics of Unbalanced Growth: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 150, March.
    24. Marjorie Flavin & Shinobu Nakagawa, 2004. "A Model of Housing in the Presence of Adjustment Costs: A Structural Interpretation of Habit Persistence," NBER Working Papers 10458, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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