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Housing Market Spillovers: Evidence from the End of Rent Control in Cambridge Massachusetts

  • David H. Autor
  • Christopher J. Palmer
  • Parag A. Pathak

Understanding potential spillovers from the attributes and actions of neighborhood residents onto the value of surrounding properties and neighborhoods is central to both the theory of urban economics and the development of efficient housing policy. This paper measures the capitalization of housing market spillovers by studying the sudden and largely unanticipated 1995 elimination of stringent rent controls in Cambridge, Massachusetts that had previously muted landlords' investment incentives and altered the assignment of residents to locations. Pooling administrative data on the assessed values of each residential property and the prices and characteristics of all residential transactions between 1988 and 2005, we find that rent control's removal produced large, positive, and robust spillovers onto the price of never-controlled housing from nearby decontrolled units. Elimination of rent control added about $1.8 billion to the value of Cambridge's housing stock between 1994 and 2004, equal to nearly a quarter of total Cambridge residential price appreciation in this period. Positive spillovers to never-controlled properties account for more half of the induced price appreciation. Residential investments can explain only a small fraction of the total.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18125.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as David H. Autor & Christopher J. Palmer & Parag A. Pathak, 2014. "Housing Market Spillovers: Evidence from the End of Rent Control in Cambridge, Massachusetts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(3), pages 661 - 717.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18125
Note: LS PE
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