The Effects of Housing Adjustment Costs on Consumption Dynamics

This paper examines how household consumption responds to infrequent and costly adjustment of housing when housing is a complement to other forms of consumption.

Abstract

Building on Flavin and Nakagawa (2008), this paper models household optimal consumption and portfolio selection when consumption services are generated by both non-durable consumption and by holding a durable good housing. Housing is illiquid in that a non-convex adjustment cost must be paid when it is sold. It is shown that optimal consumption of housing is not a constant fraction of wealth but instead depends on the ratio of wealth to housing and the price of housing. Households adjust housing infrequently, waiting for large wealth changes before adjustment. As in models without this adjustment cost, households adjust non-durable consumption each period. Unlike in frictionless models, non-durable consumption is not a constant fraction of wealth. For Particular parameters of the utility function and asset markets drawn from the literature, model simulations match aggregate consumption dynamics better than alternative frictionless models, even those with homes as assets. The simulations also predict differing responses of households with different fractions of their wealth in housing.