ABSTRACT

Purpose - Before the year 2000, the housing prices in Korea were increasing every decade. After 2000, for the first time, Korea experienced a decrease in housing prices, and the repetitive cycle of price fluctuation started. Such a ”boom and bust cycle” is a worldwide phenomenon. The current study proposes a mathematical model to explain price fluctuation cycles based on the theory of consumer psychology. Specifically, the model incorporates the effects of buyer expectations of future prices on actual price changes. Based on the model, this study investigates various independent variables affecting the amplitude of price fluctuations in housing markets. Research design, data, and methodology - The study provides theoretical analyses based on a mathematical model. The proposed model uses the following assumptions of the pricing mechanism in housing markets. First, the price of a house at a certain time is affected not only by its current price but also by its expected future price. Second, house investors or buyers cannot predict the exact future price but make a subjective prediction based on observed price changes up to the present. Third, the price is determined by demand changes made in previous time periods. The current study tries to explain the boom-bust cycle in housing markets with a mathematical model and several numerical examples. The model illustrates the effects of consumer price elasticity, consumer sensitivity to price changes, and the sensitivity of prices to demand changes on price fluctuation. Results - The analytical results imply that even without external effects, the boom-bust cycle can occur endogenously due to buyer psychological factors. The model supports the expectation of future price direction as the most important variable causing price fluctuation in housing market. Consumer tendency for making choices based on both the current and expected future price causes repetitive boom-bust cycles in housing markets. Such consumers who respond more sensitively to price changes are shown to make the market more volatile. Consumer price elasticity is shown to be irrelevant to price fluctuations. Conclusions - The mechanism of price fluctuation in the proposed model can be summarized as follows. If a certain external shock causes an initial price increase, consumers perceive it as an ongoing increasing price trend. If the demand increases due to the higher expected price, the price goes up further. However, too high a price cannot be sustained for long, thus the increasing price trend ceases at some point. Once the market loses the momentum of a price increase, the price starts to drop. A price decrease signals a further decrease in a future price, thus the demand decreases further. When the price is perceived as low enough, the direction of the price change is reversed again. Policy makers should be cognizant that the current increase in housing prices due to increased liquidity can pose a serious threat of a sudden price decrease in housing markets.

KEYWORD

Housing Price, Boom-Bust Cycle, Expectation, Behavioral Economics, House Distribution

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