NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

What Have They Been Thinking? Home Buyer Behavior in Hot and Cold Markets

Karl E. Case, Robert J. Shiller, Anne Thompson

NBER Working Paper No. 18400
Issued in September 2012
NBER Program(s):   AP   EFG

Questionnaire surveys we have undertaken in 1988 and annually 2003-2012 of recent homebuyers in each of four U.S. cities shed light on their expectations and reasons for buying and selling during the recent housing boom and subsequent collapse, and on the reasons for the housing crisis that initiated the current financial malaise. We find that homebuyers were generally well informed, and that their short-run expectations if anything underreacted to the year-to-year change in actual home prices. More of the root causes of the bubble can be seen in their long-term, ten-year, home price expectations, which reached abnormal levels relative to the mortgage rate at the peak of the boom and declined sharply since. The downward turning point around 2005 of the long boom that preceded the crisis was associated with changing public understanding of speculative bubbles.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18400

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