Price Expectations and the U.S. Housing Boom

Author/Editor:

Pascal Towbin ; Sebastian Weber

Publication Date:

July 30, 2015

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate

Summary:

Between 1996 and 2006 the U.S. has experienced an unprecedented boom in house prices. As it has proven to be difficult to explain the large price increase by observable fundamentals, many observers have emphasized the role of speculation, i.e. expectations about future price developments. The argument is, however, often indirect: speculation is treated as a deviation from a benchmark. The present paper aims to identify house price expectation shocks directly. To that purpose, we estimate a VAR model for the U.S. and use sign restrictions to identify house price expectation, housing supply, housing demand, and mortgage rate shocks. House price expectation shocks are the most important driver of the boom and account for about 30 percent of the real house price increase. We also construct a model-based measure of exogenous changes in price expectations and show that this measure leads a survey-based measure of changes in house price expectations. Our main identification scheme leaves open whether expectation shifts are realistic or unrealistic. In extensions, we provide evidence that price expectation shifts during the boom were primarily unrealistic and were only marginally affected by realistic expectations about future fundamentals.

Series:

Working Paper No. 15/182

Subject:

English

Publication Date:

July 30, 2015

ISBN/ISSN:

9781513596235/1018-5941

Stock No:

WPIEA2015182

Price:

$18.00 (Academic Rate:$18.00)

Format:

Paper

Pages:

35

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