Taxes, Income Distribution, and the Real Estate Cycle: Why All Houses Do Not Appreciate at the Same Rate

by Christopher J. Mayer
May/June 1993

Changes in house prices are generally reported on an aggregate basis. This article suggests that within a metropolitan area, high-value and low-value homes appreciate at different rates. Overall, the author’s results indicate that appreciation rates are more volatile for high-priced homes than for less expensive homes around the real estate cycle.

The different rates of price appreciation are partly explained by changes in the user cost of owning a home. Cyclical factors also play a part. Furthermore, the author found that changes in the prices of lowervalue homes have a contemporaneous effect on high-end home prices, while the opposite is not true. His results suggest that in a house-price boom, first-time homebuyers may be in a better position to buy a lowpriced home than the reported, aggregate price index suggests.

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