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Finance and Economics Discussion Series
Finance and Economics Discussion Series logo links to FEDS home page The Price and Quantity of Residential Land in the United States
Morris A. Davis and Jonathan Heathcote

Abstract: We combine publicly available data from Freddie Mac, the Decennial Census of Housing, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis to construct the first constant-quality aggregate price index for the stock of residential land in the United States. We uncover five main results: (a) since 1970, residential land prices have grown faster but (b) have also been twice as volatile as existing home prices; (c) averaged from 1970 to 2003, the nominal stock of residential land under 1-4 unit structures accounts for 38% of the market value of the housing stock and is equal to 50% of nominal annual GDP; (d) the real stock of residential land under 1-4 unit structures has increased an average of 0.6% per year since 1970; and (e) residential investment leads the price of residential land by three quarters. We also estimate that in 2003:Q3 the nominal value of the entire stock of residential land is the same as annual GDP. Finally, we show for the US data that the logarithms of the nominal price index for residential land, disposable income, and interest rates are cointegrated.

Keywords: Land, housing, house prices, land prices

Full paper (425 KB PDF)

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Last update: June 30, 2004