Land Leverage: Decomposing Home Price Dynamics

Raphael W. Bostic, Stanley D. Longhofer and Christian Redfearn

Final Draft: March 2007
Real Estate Economics, vol. 35, no. 2, Summer 2007, pp. 183-208

This paper demonstrates the importance of separating the bundled good of housing into land and improvements, arguing that changes in a property’s overall value will depend critically on how much of its total value is contained in the land, a proportion we call land leverage.  The importance of this deconstruction is demonstrated by highlighting how land leverage helps to explain variation in house price appreciation in Wichita, Kansas.  Noting that land leverage should be relevant for many real estate issues and policies, we highlight four specific areas where consideration of land leverage could significantly improve our understanding of real estate markets.