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Oil prices and urban housing demand

Weihua Zhao, PhD W. Larson
Real Estate Economics. April 1, 2020

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We develop a model of a monocentric, oil‐exporting city. The model predicts a “twist” (rotation combined with a level shift) of the house price gradient with an oil price change due to the combined producer price and transportation cost effects. Empirical findings support the predictions, with house price changes positively linked to the price of oil in cities specialized in oil and gas‐related industries, and negatively linked in suburban areas of all cities. These results quantify the large and differential risks to house prices associated with oil price changes both within and across cities. Overall, estimates suggest a 50% change in the price of oil results in a city‐wide house price change of 15% over five years in a city specialized in the production of oil (export employment share of 50%), whereas house prices for units greater than 15 miles from the city‐center change in relative terms by −1.5% over the same period.