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Working Paper 16-03: Oil Prices and Urban Housing Demand

Published: 9/16/2016

​William D. Larson, Senior Economist, FHFA; Weihua Zhao, Assistant Professor, University of Louisville


​We develop a model of a monocentric, oil-exporting city. The model predicts a "twist" (rotation combined with a level shift) of the house price gradient with an oil price change due to the combined producer price and transportation cost effects. Using ZIP code level house price indices between 1975 and 2015, we show the slope of the house price gradient steepens in all cities when the price of oil is high and flattens when the price of oil is low. Areas specialized in oil and gas-related industries have house price changes that are positively linked with the price of oil. These results are consistent with theoretical predictions, and they quantify the large and differential risks to house prices associated with oil price changes both within and across all cities. Estimates suggest a 50 percent change in the price of oil results in a city-wide house price change of 20 percent over seven years in a city specialized in the production of oil (export employment share of 50 percent), whereas house prices for units greater than 15 miles from the city-center change in relative terms by -2 to -3 percent over the same period.

Related Paper: FHFA Working Paper ​16-01: Local House Price Dynamics​

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