Research on Housing Policies by Alexander von Kulessa presented at the Annual Conference of the European Real Estate Society 2022

After the University of Kaiserslautern organized the Annual Conference of the European Real Estate Society (ERES) 2021, this year’s conference took place mid-June at the Bocconi School of Management, Milan. The ERES conference is the annual gathering of all academics and practicians doing research on real estate. The conference is highly interdisciplinary and brings together researchers with backgrounds ranging from Architecture to Appraisal and Valuation, Corporate Finance to Corporate Real Estate Management, and from Urban Planning to Policy Research.

The keynote speech at the opening ceremony, entitled “Urban Revitalization and Redevelopment: The New Real Estate Frontier?” was held by the inspiring Albert Saiz, MIT, one of the leading scholars in Urban Economics.

The TU Kaiserslautern was one of the largest delegations in Milan with Prof. Dr. Björn-Martin Kurzrock and four members of his great team working on real estate economics as well as myself, one of the few political scientists at the conference.

I had the chance to present two studies. The first investigates ‘The Politics of Affordable Housing in Unaffordable Cities.’ I conducted Multilevel Regression Analysis of the affordable housing supply in Greater London and ‚Le Grand Paris‘ over the period 2010-2018, drawing on two novel datasets, covering the neighborhood as well as the municipal level. The paper analyses the spatial pattern of affordable housing supply as a collective action problem with residents on one and federal or regional policies on the other side, and municipal governments in between. The regression analysis finds that the location of new affordable housing units still strongly reflects local preferences and spatial inequalities, despite the political will by the French and the British Government to break the patterns of segregation.

The second research project, which I conduct with Sebastian Will from the University of Freiburg, investigates the question whether homeowners are more likely to be satisfied with their life than renters independently of the housing policy context, particularly the degree of tenure bias. To investigate that question we explored data from ten waves of the Eurobarometer survey (2010-2019) across 22 countries using multilevel regression analysis. In line with the literature, we find that across our country-sample owner-occupiers are on average happier than renters. However, the effect varies across countries. Our preliminary results indicate that homeowners as well as renters are happier in countries with more tenure neutral housing policies. Yet surprisingly, the owner-renter gap is higher in the latter countries. Our working hypothesis is that this effect can be explained by the fact that the democratization of homeownership often comes at the cost of little choice for low- and middle-income households but to jump onto the property ladder. Yet this jump may overstretch the financial capacities of those households. Further, it reduces mobility and hence to ability to adapt to unexpected (life) events. In that context homeownership might reduce instead of fostering life satisfaction.

Alexander von Kulessa
PhD-student working on Housing Policies