NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Speculators and Middlemen: The Strategy and Performance of Investors in the Housing Market

Patrick Bayer, Christopher Geissler, Kyle Mangum, James W. Roberts

NBER Working Paper No. 16784
Issued in February 2011, Revised in February 2015
NBER Program(s):   EFG   PE

Housing market transactions are a matter of public record and thus provide a rare opportunity to analyze the behavior, performance, and strategies of individual investors. Using data for all housing transactions in the Los Angeles area from 1988-2009, this paper provides empirical evidence on investor behavior that is consistent with several rationales for speculative investment in the finance literature, including the roles of middlemen and naïve speculators. Speculative activity by novice investors increased sharply in the recent housing boom. These investors earned little more than the market rate of appreciation and demonstrated no ability to foresee market price movements.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16784

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