Essays in Real Estate and the Real Economy
This dissertation explores the causes and consequences of real estate price fluctuations. Given the collapse of US house prices during 2007-2009 along with the simultaneous rise in national unemployment an thorough understanding of both the housing market and its relation to the labor market has perhaps never been more important. While this dissertation fits in the real estate finance literature, my broader purpose is to use to new micro-level data to empirically test the relevance of financial and macroeconomic theories. Chapter 2 offers evidence that small firms borrow against real estate holdings to pay employment and this collateral channel is responsible for 8-16% of the total decline in employment between 2007-2009. Chapter 3 develops the locally-weighted repeat sales technique, a new econometric estimation to price any real estate property by comparing the house to all properties on the market. We then apply the method to the US Housing Market and find that traditional aggregate house indices such as Case-Shiller have overestimated the bubble by 10%.. Chapter 4 uses new data on small firm financials to exhibit that home equity is a significant source of initial financing for large startups: specifically, in our preferred specification we find that a 100% increase in real estate price growth is responsible for an 11% increase in home equity financing among all entrepreneurs and a 21% increase for large start-ups.
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