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Can metropolitan housing risk be diversified? A cautionary tale from the recent boom and bust


  • John Cotter

    (UCD School of Business, University College Dublin)

  • Stuart Gabriel

    (Anderson School of Business, University of California)

  • Richard Roll

    (Anderson School of Business, University of California)


Geographic diversification is fundamental to risk mitigation among investors and insurers of housing, mortgages, and mortgage-related derivatives. To characterize diversification potential, we provide estimates of integration, spatial correlation, and contagion among US metropolitan housing markets. Results reveal a high and increasing level of integration among US markets over the decade of the 2000s, especially in California. We apply integration results to assess the risk of alternative housing investment portfolios. Portfolio simulation indicates reduced diversification potential and increased risk in the wake of estimated increases in metropolitan housing market integration. Research findings provide new insights regarding the synchronous non-performance of geographically-disparate MBS investments during the late 2000s.

Suggested Citation

  • John Cotter & Stuart Gabriel & Richard Roll, 2012. "Can metropolitan housing risk be diversified? A cautionary tale from the recent boom and bust," Working Papers 201217, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201217

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    integration; correlation; contagion; house price returns;

    JEL classification:

    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand

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