Publications

  • Research Area: Housing Finance ×
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  • Housing Policy in New York City: A Brief History

    Published in April 2006, this paper tells the story of housing policy in New York City over the past 30 years. The report describes the city’s unprecedented efforts to rebuild its housing stock during the late 1980s and 1990s and analyzes the specific features of the New York City’s 10-year plan that made these efforts so successful. In addition, the report describes New York City’s current housing environment and policy challenges.

  • Nonprofit Housing and Neighborhood Spillovers

    Nonprofit organizations play a critical role in U.S. housing policy, a role typically justified by the claim that their housing investments produce significant neighborhood spillover benefits. However, little work has actually been done to measure these impacts on neighborhoods. This paper compares the neighborhood spillover effects of city-supported rehabilitation of rental housing undertaken by nonprofit and for-profit developers, using data from New York City. To measure these benefits, we use increases in neighboring property values, estimated from a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model. We study the impacts of about 43,000 units of city-supported housing completed during the 1980s and 1990s, and our sample of property transactions includes nearly 300,000 individual sales.

  • Removing Regulatory Barriers: One City’s Experience

    The difficulty of developing housing in New York City is as legendary as its cost. The city has had a vacancy rate under 5% — the legislative threshold defining a housing “emergency”—for more than 55 years. More than one commission or blue ribbon panel has identified government regulation as one of the primary causes of the housing problem. Since 2000, however, an opportunity presented itself to finally make some progress in reducing the cost of housing construction. Removing regulatory barriers to housing development caught the interest of two mayors—Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg—and their respective housing commissioners.

  • Impact Fees and Housing Affordability

    The increasing use of impact fees and the costs that they may add to the development process raises serious concerns about the effect using impact fees to fund infrastructure will have on the affordability of housing.

  • Comment on ‘The Effects of Affordable and Multifamily Housing on Market Values of Nearby Homes’

    Advocates of growth management and smart growth often propose policies that raise housing prices, thereby making housing less affordable to many households trying to buy or rent homes. Such policies include urban growth boundaries, zoning restrictions on multi-family housing, utility district lines, building permit caps, and even construction moratoria. Does this mean there is an inherent conflict between growth management and smart growth on the one hand, and creating more affordable housing on the other? Or can growth management and smart growth promote policies that help increase the supply of affordable housing?

  • Has Falling Crime Driven New York City’s Real Estate Boom?

    We investigate whether falling crime has driven New York City’s post-1994 real estate boom, as media reports suggest. We address this by decomposing trends in the city’s property value from 1988 to 1998 into components due to crime, the city’s investment in subsidized low-income housing, the quality of public schools, and other factors. We use rich data and employ both hedonic and repeat-sales house price models, which allow us to control for unobservable neighborhood and building-specific effects. We find that the popular story touting the overwhelming importance of crime rates has some truth to it. Falling crime rates are responsible for about a third of the post-1994 boom in property values. However, this story is incomplete because it ignores the revitalization of New York City’s poorer communities and the large role that housing subsidies played in mitigating the earlier bust.

  • Revitalizing Inner City Neighborhoods: New York City’s Ten Year Plan For Housing

    This article examines the impact of Mayor Koch’s $5.1 billion, 10-year plan for housing on the sale prices of homes in surrounding neighborhoods. The paper finds that properties in the immediate vicinity of homes newly built or renovated through the 10-year plan rose in value relative to comparable properties further away, suggesting the housing investments helped to spur revitalization in the distressed neighborhoods targeted.

  • Building Homes, Reviving Neighborhoods: Spillovers from Subsidized Construction of Owner-Occupied Housing in New York City

    This article examines the impact of two New York City homeownership programs on surrounding property values.  Both programs, the Nehemiah Program and the Partnership New Homes program, subsidize the construction of affordable owner-occupied homes in distressed neighborhoods.  Our results show that during the past two decades prices of properties in the rings surrounding the homeownership projects have risen relative to their ZIP codes.  Results suggest that part of that rise is attributable to the affordable homeownership programs.

  • The Impact of the Capital Markets on Real Estate Law and Practice

    Over the past twenty years, the real estate markets of the United States have been swept by enormous change. A sector of the economy that had long been resistant to change, real estate has been and is continuing to be transformed by the process of securitization on both the debt and equity side. Just twenty years ago, the vast majority of single family residential mortgage loans were provided by local banks or savings and loan associations that held the debt in their portfolios until maturity or prepayment. Today, most single family mortgage debt is sold into the secondary mortgage market and converted into securities. Ten years ago, mortgage loans for commercial properties were largely originated and held by commercial banks, pension funds or insurance companies. In recent years, with the exception of the meltdown of the commercial mortgage-backed securities market in the summer of 1998, the proportion of commercial loans that were securitized rapidly grew. Just six or seven years ago, real estate investment trusts (REITs) were commonly thought of as the investment entity that crashed and burned in the 1970s. In the last two or three years, however, REITs have increasingly come to be seen as a dominant, if not preeminent ownership vehicle in many real estate markets throughout the nation.

  • An Economic Analysis of Housing Abandonment

    Landlord abandonment of rental housing has affected many American cities since the 1960’s. Because of data limitations, there have been few empirical analyses of the determinants of housing abandonment. In this paper, we use a rich database that contains information on individual residential properties in New York City to estimate a reduced form model of owner abandonment. We model an owner’s decision to abandon his or her property as being similar to an investor’s decision to exercise a put option on a financial instrument. When required to pay delinquent taxes, a wealth-maximizing landlord has an incentive to cede ownership of his or her residential property when the value of all outstanding liens exceeds the property’s market value. Estimates from the model are used to examine whether empirical evidence supports this option model of abandonment.