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The housing market is both large and complex. This paper develops a simple model that captures the essential features of the supply and demand for housing, and which is used to evaluate the impact of a range of policy interventions. Increases in the stock of housing would reduce rents and house prices. A reduction in tax concessions for landlords would raise rents and moderate house prices. Additional subsidies for owner-occupancy would tend to reduce rents and raise house prices. Significant reductions in rents and house prices would follow a fall in the cost of housing, through, for example lower regulatory and consent costs. Falling real interest rates result in lower rents, higher house prices and lower owner-occupancy rates. Despite the widespread attention owner-occupancy rates have attracted, the paper concludes that they are not a particularly helpful guide to the state of the housing market. Typically they are quite insensitive to policy interventions, a result that follows from the integrated view of both the rental and ownership market, adopted in this study.
The initial version of this paper was developed when both authors were affiliated with the House Prices Unit in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2007. The authors are indebted to their colleagues in that unit and to Duncan Maclennan for useful comments. Particular thanks are due to Professor John Creedy of the University of Melbourne who made extensive suggestions to improve the paper.
The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Working Paper are strictly those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Zealand Treasury or the New Zealand Government. The New Zealand Treasury and the New Zealand Government take no responsibility for any errors or omissions in, or for the correctness of, the information contained in these working papers. The paper is presented not as policy, but with a view to inform and stimulate wider debate.