Housing prices increased at a historic pace from 2002 to 2006 in most developed nations, puzzling many observers. Was this a “bubble” or merely supply and demand at work? The aim of this paper is to uncover the dynamics of housing prices from 2002 to 2006. In order to understand this remarkable phenomenon, economic fundamentals for different markets are investigated, including new residents per housing start, the availability of subprime mortgages, and the degree of regulatory constraint. We find that some countries and some areas of the United States experienced little appreciation in real housing prices from 2002 to 2006, and that extreme housing price run-ups were a highly localized phenomenon with huge variance.
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