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The Impact of Minimum Lot Size Regulations on House Prices in Eastern Massachusetts

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  • Maurice Dalton
  • Jeffrey Zabel

Abstract

There has been an increasing focus on exclusionary zoning; particularly in suburban areas, as a cause of the high house prices in many metropolitan areas in the United States. Most of the recent evidence, though, is indirect given the difficulty of isolating the direct causal impact of zoning on house prices. One main problem to overcome is that zoning is not exogenous but is rather the result of economically rational behavior on the part of residents. Another problem is the lack of good data on land use regulations. One further complication is that the ability of a town to sustain a price increase from zoning depends on its monopoly zoning power; that is, the lack of towns that are close substitutes. this study seeks to bridge this gap by investigating the regulatory price effect of minimum lot size zoning on house prices through the use of several excellent data sources which provide parcel level housing and geocoded regulatory data. We have data on all transactions ofsingle-family homes in the greater Boston area from 1987 to 2006, unit characteristics, and changes in minimum lot size zoing over this period. We estimate a model of house prices that include changes in minimum lot size at the zoning-district level, variables that account for possible spillover effects in the same town and in nearby towns, and zoning district fixed effects. The latter will control, to a large extent, the endogeneity bias due to land use regulations. We also account for monopoly zoning power through the use of town fixed effects. We find thta the price effect is highly nonlinear in monopoly zoning power with price increases of more than 20% at the upper tail of the monopoly power distribution. We also find evidence of significant spillover effects within and across towns; though not as large as those in the zoning districts where the minimum lot size changes. Finally, we find that the impact increases over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Maurice Dalton & Jeffrey Zabel, 2009. "The Impact of Minimum Lot Size Regulations on House Prices in Eastern Massachusetts," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0732, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0732
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    Cited by:

    1. Magliocca, Nicholas & McConnell, Virginia & Walls, Margaret & Safirova, Elena, 2012. "Zoning on the urban fringe: Results from a new approach to modeling land and housing markets," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 198-210.
    2. David Christafore & Susane Leguizamon, 2015. "Spatial Spillovers of Land Use Regulation in the United States," Housing Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(3), pages 491-503, June.
    3. repec:eee:ecolet:v:164:y:2018:i:c:p:58-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Gyourko, Joseph & Molloy, Raven, 2015. "Regulation and Housing Supply," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 1289-1337, Elsevier.
    5. Gallagher, Ryan M., 2016. "The fiscal externality of multifamily housing and its impact on the property tax: Evidence from cities and schools, 1980–2010," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 249-259.
    6. Peter Gordon, 2012. "Spontaneous Cities," Working Paper 8954, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
    7. Douglas J. Krupka & Kwame N. Donaldson, 2013. "Wages, Rents, And Heterogeneous Moving Costs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 844-864, January.
    8. Jackson, Kristoffer, 2016. "Do land use regulations stifle residential development? Evidence from California cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 45-56.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets
    • R52 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Land Use and Other Regulations

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