This paper studies household beliefs during the recent US housing boom. To characterize the heterogeneity in households’ views about housing and the economy, we perform a cluster analysis on survey responses at different stages of the boom. The estimation always finds a small cluster of households who believe it is a good time to buy a house because house prices will rise further. The size of this “momentum” cluster doubled towards the end of the boom. We also provide a simple search model of the housing market to show how a small number of optimistic investors can have a large effect on prices without buying a large share of the housing stock.
This paper is an extension of Monika Piazzesi's and Martin Schneider's work while they were in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.