No. 1087 - Housing and credit markets in Italy in times of crisis

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by Michele Loberto and Francesco Zollino October 2016

We investigate the determinants of Italian house prices and residential investments in a structural model with possible disequilibria in the market for lending to both households and firms in the building sector. Based on a structural approach that takes into account the multifold relationships between demand and supply within the housing and the credit markets, we find that, while house prices react mostly to disposable income and demographic pressures, lending conditions also exert a significant impact. During the recent crises the contribution of declining bank rates to household lending was limited, due to the greater deleveraging needs of Italian banks. Conventional monetary policy has supported house prices, albeit with declining intensity as policy rates have gradually approached the lower bound. At the same time, unconventional monetary policy measures have sustained house prices via their effect on Italian sovereign spreads, which have shrunk by a sizeable amount since they peaked in the period between late 2011 and early 2013. Finally, we find that house price developments stayed in line with the fundamentals, during both the global financial and sovereign debt crisis, with only minor and occasional discrepancies.

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