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Factors Influencing Housing Equity Withdrawal: Evidence from a Microeconomic Survey

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The increase in housing equity withdrawal and coincident decline in aggregate savings rates in a number of countries in recent years is consistent with the consumption-smoothing model of housing equity withdrawal. However, there are a variety of other theoretical models that purport to explain why households withdraw and inject equity. To assess the relative importance of these various theories, we use a comprehensive survey of the equity withdrawal and injection decisions of Australian households. We find support for several theories. Life cycle considerations appear to be most important, with older households accounting for the bulk of equity withdrawn. Portfolio rebalancing considerations also appear important, with financial asset accumulation the primary use of withdrawn funds. Consumption-smoothing motives play an influential role, although primarily for smaller-value transactions.
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Keywords: E21; E51

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Reserve Bank of Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 2: Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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