Repeat Sales as a Matching Estimator



The most common approaches for constructing house price indices—hedonic price functions and the repeat sales estimator—focus on changes over time in mean prices. Though the hedonic approach is less wasteful of data than the repeat sales estimator, it relies on an accurate specification of the underlying econometric model. I suggest using a matching estimator as an alternative to the hedonic and repeat sales approaches. Like the repeat sales approach, a matching estimator uses pairs of sales from different dates to estimate the mean difference in sales prices over time. The matching approach preserves much larger sample sizes than the repeat sales estimator while requiring less preimposed structure than the hedonic approach. The matching approach makes it easy to characterize changes in the full distribution of house prices.