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House Price Moments in Boom-Bust Cycles

Working paper #719
Todd Sinai

This paper describes six stylized patterns among housing markets in the United States that potential explanations of the housing boom and bust should seek to explain. First, individual housing markets in the United States experienced considerable heterogeneity in the amplitudes of their cycles. Second, the areas with the biggest boom-bust cycles in the 2000s also had the largest boom-busts in the 1980s and 1990s, with a few telling exceptions. Third, the timing of the cycles differed across housing markets. Fourth, the largest booms and busts, and their timing, seem to be clustered geographically. Fifth, the cross sectional variance of annual house price changes rises in booms and declines in busts. Finally, these stylized facts are robust to controlling for housing demand fundamentals—namely, rents, incomes, or employment—although changes in fundamentals are correlated with changes in prices.

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