Macroeconomic Statistics based on Surveys: Circumventing Subjectivity in Housing Sales and Rent Data

M. Denisa Naidin
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) & University of Luxembourg

Sofie R. Waltl
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) & Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU)

Michael H. Ziegelmeyer
Banque centrale du Luxembourg (BCL) & Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA)

Abstract

The current market value of the residential housing stock constitutes a crucial input variable in macro- and microeconomics and the social sciences in general as well as for macro-economic monitoring and financial supervision. Market values are, however, only observable upon selling a property or establishing a new rent contract. As a substitute, owner-estimated and renter-reported values collected in country-representative surveys are regularly used as if they were true market prices. This article makes use of the Luxembourg Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS), which we amended by questions about important price-determining housing characteristics for all households’ main residences. We link each HFCS observation to a large collection of market sales and rent data via hedonic models thus yielding imputed current market prices and rents for each dwelling described in the survey. Thus, we add objective values to otherwise subjectively reported survey data. We characterise survey participants who tend to under- or over-report, respectively and find a strong correlations with tenure length, tenure type (renting versus owner-occupying), type of dwelling and household income and wealth. Such correlations question the appropriateness of relying on self-reported housing market and housing wealth data as they translate into mismeasured macro-economic indicators.

JEL Codes: E58; G51; R21; R31.
Keywords: Macroeconomic Statistics; Housing and Rent Markets; Household Surveys; Affordability; Housing Wealth; Price-to-Rent Ratios; Price-to-Income Ratios.

This research benefits from funding by the FNR Luxembourg National Research Fund, CORE Grant No. 3886 (ASSESS). This article uses data from the Luxembourg L’Observatoire de l’Habitat and the Luxembourg Household Finance and Consumption Survey. The views expressed are solely those of the authors and may not be shared by the data providers nor the BCL or the Eurosystem.

Dissemination

Presentations: [National Bank of Slovakia Research Webinar][2021 Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE) Conference on Economic Measurement]