We propose a life-cycle model of the housing market with a property ladder and a credit constraint. We focus on equilibria which replicate the facts that credit constraints delay some households' first home purchase and force other households to buy a home smaller than they would like. The model helps us identify a powerful driver of the housing market: the ability of young households to afford the down payment on a starter home, and in particular their income. The model also highlights a channel whereby changes in income may yield housing price overshooting, with prices of trade-up homes displaying the most volatility, and a positive correlation between housing prices and transactions. This channel relies on the capital gains or losses on starter homes incurred by credit-constrained owners. We provide empirical support for our arguments with evidence from both the U.K. and the U.S.
Housing Demand Income Fluctuations Overlapping Generations Collateral Constraint