The conventional wisdom that homeownership is very risky ignores the fact that the alternative, renting, is also risky. Owning a house provides a hedge against fluctuations in housing costs, but in turn introduces asset price risk. In a simple model of tenure choice with endogenous house prices, we show that the net risk of owning declines with a household’s expected horizon in its house and with the correlation in housing costs in future locations. Empirically, we find that both house prices, relative to rents, and the probability of homeownership increase with net rent risk.
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