The Cape of Good Homes: Exchange Rate Depreciations, Foreign Demand and House Prices
63 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2019 Last revised: 1 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 30, 2020
Emerging markets are characterized by frequent periods of large and unexpected exchange rate depreciations. These events create opportunities for foreign investors to purchase domestic assets at a discount, especially if these assets have sticky prices. We show this to be the case in the housing market in Cape Town, South Africa. Using property transaction data, we find that foreign non-residents buy more properties following large exchange rate depreciations—in the lower quartile of month-on-month changes. We find no evidence of a similar effect for other buyers, suggestive of strong exchange rate-related motives. Using these depreciations as demand shocks to foreign non-resident buyers, we find that this increased demand leads to an increase in house prices of 3.39%. We find that foreign non-resident buyers pay 10.42% more than other buyers for otherwise identical properties and that this tendency to pay a premium accounts for around 27% of the observed causal impact of foreign demand on house prices.
Keywords: foreign housing demand, exchange rates, house prices
JEL Classification: R21, F31, G11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation