House Price Changes and Capital Shifts in Real Estate Values in Twin Cities-Area Housing Submarkets


John Adams, Julie Cidell, Laura Hansen, Barbara VanDrasek

February 2002

Report no. CTS 02-01


Economics, Planning

This report explores the movement of average prices and price changes for single-unit houses between 1970 and 1995 in three housing submarkets that radiate outward from downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. The report investigates one way of measuring gains and losses in housing values that might be traced in part to processes of economic growth, tax policy, and the outward movement of jobs, incomes, and the capital represented by housing assets. The report theorizes that these capital shifts are the result of the capitalized value of tax expenditures and property tax differentials between city and suburb, the impacts of utility pricing schemes, and the nature of consumer demand for housing. Additional factors that drive flux in this general pattern of outward movement of capital include energy and consumer price fluctuations, general economic conditions, significant inmigration, and perceptions about both public safety and school quality in different parts of the metropolitan region. The result of this dynamic is that some households realize unearned capital gains simply by virtue of their location, while others find themselves holding a depreciating asset due to factors beyond their control.

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