This article develops a model of asset allocation relevant for the representative consumer. Consumption is composed of two items: housing, and other goods and services. The representative household's balance sheet consists largely of a house and a mortgage. Its income statement is dominated by labor earnings, constraining cash expenditures. Housing-market behavior thus underlies intertemporal wealth and consumption allocation. With a housing-dominated portfolio and a maximizing plan, a plausible bound on the intertemporal marginal rate of substitution in consumption can be estimated for a typical household. The model takes account of idiosyncratic characteristics of housing returns and finance. Underwriting standards oblige borrowers to secure mortgage debt with a housing asset and with cash flow, usually from labor income. Access to the mortgage market depends on the loan-to-value ratio, or leverage and debt size, and the debt-coverage ratio, or cash solvency. If there are seasonals or predictable patterns in house returns, their magnitude is amplified for the typical liquidity-constrained household. Empirical results for the aggregate U.S. market confirm predictability and serial correlation in house capital gains. There are seasonals in housing returns. While there is no January effect, above-average returns are obtained during the summer months.
The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2004
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