DETERMINANTS OF HOUSE PRICES AND NEW CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY: AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION OF THE NAMIBIAN HOUSING MARKET
The demand for and supply of housing are heterogeneous and differ across countries, provinces and cities. In the Namibian context, the housing market has experienced a substantial increase in house prices. Such an unexpected growth rate in house prices suggests that the Namibian housing market may not be sustainable in the long term. This means that there is a high probability of a housing price bubble in Namibia if the house prices continue to increase. The aim of this study was to conduct an econometric analysis of endogenous and exogenous determinants of house prices and new construction activity in Namibia. This study also attempted to establish whether there is evidence of overvaluation of house prices in the Namibian housing market and this is important in identifying the possibility of a housing price bubble in Namibia. In addition, the study is relevant during the current period where Namibia is faced with a continuous increase in house prices. A restricted VAR model with a Johansen cointegration approach was used to analyse monthly data from January 2000 to December 2014. The selection of the data set was aimed at providing representatives for various housing demand drivers and housing supply determinants. For modelling on the supply side, new construction investment as a percentage of GDP was employed. The other variables incorporated as exogenous variables include the economic growth rate, the consumer price index, nominal wages as a percentage of GDP, the short-term interest rate, mortgage loans as a share of GDP and population in the 15-64 cohort as a percentage of GDP. Results show that the house price index in Namibia has proved more sensitive to changes in population, mortgage loans and inflation; whereas the construction activities were found to be more sensitive to the house price index and inflation. Granger causality results show that there is a bidirectional causality between the house price index and new construction activity in Namibia. The study therefore found evidence of overvaluation of house prices in the Namibian housing market, which may lead to a house price bubble in the Namibian economy. Namibian policymakers, through the Bank of Namibia, should come up with policies which ensure that the majority of mortgages given by the banks are for constructing new houses instead of financing the purchase of existing houses.