Irish house prices: will the roof fall in?
In the last few years there has been many comments made in the media about the Irish housing market boom. This paper focuses on two of these comments. The first comment is that some economists have suggested that a speculative bubble might be present in Irish house prices. The second comment is that some housing market analysts have asked whether a crash similar to what happened in the British housing market in the late 1980s would occur in Ireland. Many of these analysts suggest that it is highly unlikely that a similar slump would occur in the Irish housing market. Given that bubbles have a habit of bursting one might think that these remarks are contradictory. We reconcile these two comments using regime-switching models of real second hand house prices in Britain and Ireland. The models are estimated and tested to explore whether speculative bubbles, fads or just fundamentals drive house prices. Our main findings suggest that there was a speculative bubble in Britain in the late 1980s and in Ireland in the late 1990s. We estimate that the probability of a crash in Britain reached its highest value of about five percent in the last few quarters of 1989. We also estimate the probability of a crash in the Irish housing market to have increased to around two percent by the end of 1998.
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