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The Role of Interest Rates in Influencing Long-Run Homeownership Rates


  • Gary Painter
  • Christian L. Redfearn


As a stated policy objective, the U.S. Department of Housing and UrbanDevelopment seeks to boost the national homeownership rate to 70 percent by 2006. To accomplish this goal, they estimate that 3.8 million additional families be added to the ranks of U.S. homeowners. Furthermore, HUD estimates that the homeownership gap between minority and nonminority families must be reduced by a full 15 percent. Many policy instruments – both targeted and otherwise – have been suggested to increase homeownership. These range from low downpayment loans, greater access to credit in underserved areas, and interest rates subsidies. However, little is know about the efficacy of these measures to raise long-term homeownership rates.In this analysis, we focus on the role of interest rates on homeownership rates and the housing stock. In particular, we provide a critical review of the literature on the relationship between housing and interest rates in contrast to other determinants of homeownership and changes in housing supply. We then present our own estimates of the influence of interest rates on homeownership and housing starts. We find that interest rates play little direct role in changing homeownership rates. While changes in interest rates may affect the timing of changes in tenure status from renter to owner, the long-run ownership rate appears independent of interest rates.We find housing starts are, however, sensitive to changes in the interest rate. This implies that housing supply, or at least the timing of changes in housing supply, is sensitive to interest rates. It is though this mechanism that the stock of owner-occupied housing expands, though household formation and immigration may leave the ownership rate unchanged. We conclude by discussing whether other instruments, such as low down payment loans and improved technology for assessment of credit risk, maypotentially be better suited to increasing long-term homeownership rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Painter & Christian L. Redfearn, 2001. "The Role of Interest Rates in Influencing Long-Run Homeownership Rates," Working Paper 8629, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
  • Handle: RePEc:luk:wpaper:8629

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Green, Richard K., 1996. "Should the stagnant homeownership rate be a source of concern?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 337-368, June.
    2. Green, Richard K. & White, Michelle J., 1997. "Measuring the Benefits of Homeowning: Effects on Children," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 441-461, May.
    3. Painter, Gary, 2000. "Tenure Choice with Sample Selection: Differences among Alternative Samples," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 197-213, September.
    4. Gary Painter, 2000. "Tenure Choice with Sample Selection: A Note on the Differences among Alternative Samples," Working Paper 8647, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
    5. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
    6. Kan, Kamhon, 2000. "Dynamic Modeling of Housing Tenure Choice," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 46-69, July.
    7. Judith Yates, 2000. "Is Australia's Home-ownership Rate Really Stable? An Examination of Change between 1975 and 1994," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 37(2), pages 319-342, February.
    8. Dokko, Yoon & Edelstein, Robert H & Urdang, E Scott, 1990. "Does Credit Rationing Affect Residential Investment? Deja Vu All Over Again," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 357-371, December.
    9. Engle, Robert & Granger, Clive, 2015. "Co-integration and error correction: Representation, estimation, and testing," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 39(3), pages 106-135.
    10. Gyourko, Joseph, 1998. "The Changing Strength of Socioeconomic Factors Affecting Home Ownership in the United States: 1960-1990," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 45(4), pages 466-490, September.
    11. Anthony Pennington-Cross & Joseph Nichols, 2000. "Credit History and the FHA-Conventional Choice," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 28(2), pages 307-336.
    12. Meese Richard & Wallace Nancy, 1994. "Testing the Present Value Relation for Housing Prices: Should I Leave My House in San Francisco?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 245-266, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ron J. Feldman, 2002. "Mortgage rates, homeownership rates, and government-sponsored enterprises," Annual Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, pages 4-23.


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