To Sell or Not to Sell: Measuring the Heat of the Housing Market



Combining list-price, sale-price and time-on-the-market data, we estimate an index that summarizes housing market conditions and that has a direct economic interpretation. The index measures seller's bargaining power in a structural search model of home seller behavior. Structural estimation uncovers an analytical relationship between reduced form coefficients of hedonic and marketing-time equations and structural parameters. Thus, the index can be estimated using individual-level or aggregate data. Using housing transactions data from the Washington, D.C., area, we show that index trends coincide with the up and downturns in home appreciation rates and with popular perceptions about the “heat” of the market.