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Can Owning a Home Hedge the Risk of Moving?

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  • Todd M. Sinai
  • Nicholas S. Souleles

Abstract

Conventional wisdom holds that one of the riskiest aspects of owning a house is the uncertainty surrounding its sale price, especially if one moves to another housing market. However, households who sell a house typically buy another house, whose purchase price is also uncertain. We show that for such households, home owning often hedges their net exposure to housing market risk, because their sale price covaries positively with house prices in their likely new market. That expected covariance is much higher than previously recognized because there is considerable heterogeneity across city pairs in how much house prices covary and households tend to move between the highly correlated housing markets. Taking these two considerations into account increases the estimated median expected correlation in real house price growth across MSAs from 0.35 to 0.60. Moreover, we show that households' decisions whether to own or rent are sensitive to this "moving-hedge" value. We find that the likelihood of home owning for a mobile household is more than one percentage point higher when the expected house price covariance rises by 38 percent (one standard deviation). This effect attenuates as a household's probability of moving diminishes and thus the moving-hedge value declines.

Suggested Citation

  • Todd M. Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2009. "Can Owning a Home Hedge the Risk of Moving?," NBER Working Papers 15462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15462
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Houses are a poor way to share risk
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-11-02 21:26:00

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    Cited by:

    1. M.I. Dröes & H Garretsen & W.J.J. Manshanden, 2012. "The Diversification Benefits of Free Trade in House Value," Working Papers 12-03, Utrecht School of Economics.
    2. Dröes, Martijn I. & Hassink, Wolter H.J., 2013. "House price risk and the hedging benefits of home ownership," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 92-99.
    3. Michael F. Lovenheim, 2011. "The Effect of Liquid Housing Wealth on College Enrollment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(4), pages 741-771.
    4. McDuff, DeForest, 2011. "Demand substitution across US cities: Observable similarity and home price correlation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 1-14, July.
    5. Robert J. Shiller, 2014. "Why Is Housing Finance Still Stuck in Such a Primitive Stage?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 73-76, May.
    6. Piazzesi, M. & Schneider, M., 2016. "Housing and Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    7. Fran?ois Ortalo-Magn? & Andrea Prat, 2014. "On the Political Economy of Urban Growth: Homeownership versus Affordability," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 154-181, February.
    8. Christian A. L. Hilber & Wouter Vermeulen, 2016. "The Impact of Supply Constraints on House Prices in England," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(591), pages 358-405, March.
    9. Sejeong Ha & Christian A. L. Hilber, 2013. "Do Long Distance Moves Discourage Homeownership? Evidence from England," SERC Discussion Papers 0141, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    10. François Ortalo-Magné & Andrea Prat, 2016. "Spatial Asset Pricing: A First Step," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(329), pages 130-171, January.
    11. Jordan Rappaport, 2010. "The effectiveness of homeownership in building household wealth," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q IV, pages 35-65.
    12. Tatiana Kirsanova & Jack Rogers, 2013. "Fixed versus Variable Rate Debt Contracts and Optimal Monetary Policy," Discussion Papers 1306, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
    13. Steven F. Venti, 2015. "Comment on "House Price Volatility and the Housing Ladder"," NBER Chapters,in: Insights in the Economics of Aging, pages 119-125 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Amior, Michael & Manning, Alan, 2017. "The persistence of local joblessness," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86558, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Donald Haurin & Chao Ma & Stephanie Moulton & Maximilian Schmeiser & Jason Seligman & Wei Shi, 2016. "Spatial Variation in Reverse Mortgages Usage: House Price Dynamics and Consumer Selection," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 53(3), pages 392-417, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

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