On the User Cost and Homeownership Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2008

start page

  • 584

end page

  • 613

issue

  • 3

volume

  • 11

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1094-2025

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-6099

abstract

  • This paper studies the differences in the cost of housing services for renters and homeowners and calculates the bias that results when we value owner-occupied housing services using a rental equivalence approach. Our framework is a life-cycle model with endogenous tenure choice with households facing idiosyncratic uninsurable earnings risk and housing price risk. We model houses as illiquid assets that provide collateral for loans. To analyze the impact of preferential housing taxation on the tenure choice and the bias, we consider a tax system that mimics that of the U.S. economy. Namely, owner-occupied housing services are not taxed and mortgage interest payments are deductible. Through simulations, we show that a rental equivalence approach (relative to a user cost approach) overestimates the cost of housing services. The magnitude of the bias is very sensitive to both the income tax rate and the size of adjustment costs in the housing market.