According to Michael Donihue and Andriy Avramenko of Colby College
During the period from 1990 to 2002,
U.S. households experienced a dramatic wealth cycle, induced by a 369 percent appreciation in the value of real per capita liquid stock-market assets, followed by a 55 percent decline. However, despite predictions at the time by some analysts relying on life-cycle models of consumption, consumer spending in real terms continued to rise throughout this period. Using data that include the period from 1990 to 2005, traditional approaches to estimating macroeconomic wealth effects on consumption confront two puzzles: (i) econometric evidence of a stable cointegrating relationship among consumption, income, and wealth is weak at best; and (ii) life-cycle models that rely on aggregate measures of wealth cannot explain why consumption did not collapse when the value of stock-market assets declined so dramatically. We address both puzzles by decomposing wealth according to the liquidity of household assets. In particular, we find that significant appreciation in the value of real estate assets that occurred after the peak of the wealth cycle helped to sustain consumer spending from 2000 to 2005.
And what fueled the HPA? Well, low interest rates, and rising income of course.
The widespread nature of the recent international house price boom suggests that the underlying forces behind this sustained price increase may be common across countries. Many OECD countries have, over the past decade, witnessed sustained increases in living standards while housing affordability has further improved in recent years with the low interest rate environment experienced by many of these countries. In this paper we propose a theoretical model of house price determination that is driven by changes in income and interest rates. In particular, the current level of income and interest rates determine how much an individual can borrow from financial institutions to purchase housing and ultimately this is a key driver of house prices. The model is applied to a panel of 16 OECD countries from 1980 to 2005 using both single country-by-country and panel econometric approaches. Our results support the existence of a long-run relationship between actual house prices and the amount individuals can borrow and we find plausible and statistically significant adjustment, across countries, to this long run equilibrium.
It seems they miss an important factor in the recent HPA. The willingness of banks to take on clients they previously would not have. The so called sub prime market has really just been fueled by an increased willingness to lend given an particular interest rate and income level, or what the authors call an ability to borrow. Many more people were able to borrow during this boom, thus further fueling the home price appreciation. I do not know if this was an international phenomenon, and I'm not sure I could immediately produce a variable which captures that idea.
Hat Tip: The New Economist