Wharton News: August 2012
Real Estate Department Welcomes New Professors
Professor Gilles Duranton comes to Wharton from the University of Toronto, where he was Professor of Economics and Noranda Chair in Economics and International Trade. Duranton studied at the Sorbonne, EHESS (l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales) and taught at the London School of Economics. His interests include urban and regional development, transportation and local public finance. This summer, Duranton was keynote speaker (his topic: Speed) at the International Transportation Economics Association's Kuhmo Nectar Conference, in Berlin.This conference promotes scientific excellence in transport economics and provides a forum for stimulating scientific exchange. He also gave a talk on "Extension du réseau routier, circulation automobile, productivité du travail et emploi" at the French Ministry for Ecology, Durable Development, Energy and Transportation.
Assistant professor of real estate, Jessie Handbury, will be teaching real estate finance in the Spring term. Her research interests include international trade, urban economics, and industrial organization. Her recent work studies how and why product availability and prices differ across U.S. cities and measures how the cost of living varies across cities differentially for high– and low–income consumers. Her current projects look at the extent to which geographic variation in product availability and prices can explain food–related health disparities between high– and low–income consumers, and use international price data to measure the extent of international market integration. Professor Handbury will receive her Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University.
Professor Gyourko was quoted in an article about US job location in the Financial Times (6/2) In a sign that the recession may be easing, figures show that companies appear more willing to relocate employees this year than at the same time last year. Sharp home price deflation has prevented long distant moving by many. Home prices reached a new low in the first quarter and have fallen back to levels not seen since 2002, according to data released this week. "More than 28 per cent of U.S. homeowners owe more on their properties than their homes are worth, and these people are one–third less likely to move than borrowers who have equity in their homes," Gyourko was interviewed on NPR (May 11) on "Happy Renters Stay on Homeownership Sidelines," with Curt Nickisch, commenting on young people and homeownership.
Susan Wachter's speaking engagements over the past few months include: the Symposium on Asia Growth and Urban Economy organized by the National University of Singapore Institute of Real Estate Studies (July 6-7), where she spoke on reverse mortgages; the webinar on Urbanization and Growth on a Finite Planet, speaking on urbanization forecasts (June 26) the first in a series on Urbanization in a Growing World organized by the Security and Sustainability Forum; the Strategies to Improve the Housing Market Conference (June 20), held by the Pew Charitable Trusts for which she contributed two papers: "Assessing the Housing Threat and the Appropriate Policy Response" and "The Performance of New Private-Label Mortgage Loan Modifications After 2009;" a plenary session on "Housing Policy in 2013: Challenges, Opportunities and Solution" to the National Association of Realtors Midyear Meeting (May 15); and a panel on "What Makes Cities Resilient?" at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's Reinventing Older Communities: Building Resilient Cities Conference (May 11). In the media, Dr. Wachter was quoted in an Irish Independent article "We can learn a lot from US on mortgage crisis" (June 25); featured in a Financial Times series on women working in financial education (June 21); quoted in Prospecting Journal in "Heavily Stockpiled, China's Housing Bubble is Poised to Hurt Metals" (May 30); quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek in "Home for Sale Grow Scarce as Sellers Await Higher Prices" (May 15); and was quoted in Bloomberg's "FHA New Foreclosures Jump as Modified Loans Default" (May 9). Dr. Wachter was interviewed by David Gura on a Marketplace, American Public Media segment on "House report links Countrywide, Congress" (July 5); and was interviewed on Fox Business's Market Selloff on "Housing Not Driving GDP Down" (June 21).
Marja Hoek-Smit travels to Oxford and Egypt
Marja Hoek-Smit was invited by the Center for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University, UK to present a framing lecture on “Scaling up of Housing Finance in Africa” at the Research Workshop on Mass Housing in Africa. Hoek-Smit discussed innovations and developments in the five core areas of housing finance needed for mass housing production to materialize: growing equity investments in the real estate sector, constraints and potential in debt finance for residential construction, the near absence of finance for multi-family rental properties, and the urgency to expand mortgage lending and non-collateralized lending for housing. She emphasized the role and type of state intervention, improvements in legal and regulatory systems and improvement of transparency and the improvement of data on housing markets, prices and housing finance systems.
At May's fifth World Bank Housing Finance Conference, Hoek-Smit discussed the importance of establishing appropriate housing finance mechanisms to improve risk mitigation in disaster-prone areas ex-ante and in post-disaster reconstruction. She returned to Egypt in May where the transitional government is implementing the housing subsidy program for middle and lower-middle income households designed by Hoek-Smit, and her Egyptian and World Bank colleagues. She was interviewed by MSN-Money on the commonalities and difference between the U.S. and other countries' real estate bubbles.
International Housing Finance Program update
Despite the continued global uncertain situation, the international division (Marja C. Hoek-Smit, Director) of the Real Estate Center has seen considerable growth in its programs. Its educational programs have seen record enrollments during the past years and its new global housing finance data collection and knowledge initiative HOFINET has expanded to include 70 countries and well over a 1,000 papers, laws and other relevant documents and links.
The 2012 IHFP’s Executive Education course, "Improving Housing Finance Systems in a Changing Global Environment," (June 4-14), was held at the Wharton School, followed by a hands-on Workshop on Securitization and Mortgage Bonds (June 15-16). Some 60 senior housing, housing finance and real estate professionals from 20 countries and international agencies attended the course, including the President of the Government Housing Bank of Thailand, the President Director of the Secondary Mortgage Market Conduit in Indonesia, Senior officials and Board Directors of the Housing Bank of Indonesia (BTN), CEOs from Mortgage Banks and Property Firms in Nigeria, the Director of Housing, Government of Tanzania, and other senior officials from Mexico, Brazil, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Denmark, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation-USA, USAID and the World Bank.
The 2012 IHFP group
IHFP plans to conduct its annual course, Expanding Housing Finance Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, in collaboration with faculty from Cape Town University, Cape Town, South Africa, (Oct. 6-14). The program admits 50 to 65 participants per year and has reached approximately 300 professionals from 20 SSA-countries over the past five years. The IHFP supports curriculum development, the education of CTU faculty and co-teaches the course. The aim is to fully divest the program in a few years to Cape Town University.