One of the factors driving house price growth in many countries is foreign investor demand. Using new UK data, this column argues that foreign investment has had a significant positive effect on house price growth in the last 15 years. The effect is not limited to expensive homes but ‘trickles down’ to less expensive properties, and is stronger where housing supply is less elastic. Foreign investment is also found to reduce the rate of home ownership, but there is no evidence of an effect on the housing stock or share of vacant homes.
Filipa Sá, 04 January 2017
Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Pantelis Koutroumpis, Tommaso Valletti, 04 February 2016
Many governments are committed to promoting the roll-out of fibre optic broadband networks. Little is known, however, about the economic value of these investments. Using house prices to infer the value of high-speed internet access, this column discusses the impact of fibre optic broadband in England. A fast broadband connection is found to increase house prices sufficiently in urban areas to pass a cost-benefit test, but the case for universal delivery in rural areas is not as strong. And even in areas where people are willing to pay for a faster connection, internet providers may be unwilling to deliver it only to see house-sellers appropriate the rent from their investments.
Lucija Muehlenbachs, Beia Spiller, Christopher Timmins, 09 February 2014
Compared to coal and oil, shale gas offers the prospect of greater energy independence and lower emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. However, fracking is controversial due to the local externalities it creates – particularly because of the potential for groundwater contamination. This column presents evidence on the size of these externalities from a recent study of house prices. The effect attributable to groundwater contamination risk varies from 10% to 22% of the value of the house, depending on its distance from the shale gas well.
Lucija Muehlenbachs, Beia Spiller, Christopher Timmins, 29 September 2012
Natural gas is seen as an attractive source of energy – it is cleaner than coal and often more reliable. But there are potential risks from the drilling and hydraulic fracturing process. This column shows how shale gas extraction could reduce property prices, and argues that policymakers need to bear this in mind when thinking about the costs and benefits.