¿Hay una burbuja en el precio de la vivienda?

En todo el mundo, los periódicos anuncian una "burbuja de la vivienda" que está a punto de estallar. El Economist ha publicado numerosos artículos con títulos como "Castillos en el aire". El Wall Street Journal agrega "Se disparan los precios de las viviendas, alimentando los temores de una burbuja". Le Monde advierte "La burbuja de las propiedades amenaza el crecimiento". "La burbuja de la vivienda podría hacerse tóxica", previene el Sydney Morning Herald. ¿Se justifican esos temores? ¿Cómo saber si hay una burbuja en el mercado de la vivienda?

El término "burbuja" se utiliza con frecuencia, pero rara vez se le define. Una burbuja se da cuando las expectativas del público sobre los aumentos de precios a futuro se vuelven exageradas y llevan a los precios a niveles insostenibles. Cuando eso sucede, mucha gente compra casas para rentarlas como inversión, y muchas más, que están comprándolas para habitarlas, se comportan también como inversionistas, con el temor de que si esperan, el mercado los rebasará.

Durante una burbuja, los compradores se muestran relativamente poco desalentados por los precios, ya que piensan que los aumentos aún mayores les compensarán por haber gastado tanto. Si las expectativas de incrementos rápidos y sostenidos son factores de motivación importantes, entonces el nivel de precios es inherentemente inestable, porque los precios no se pueden elevar siempre. La burbuja acabará por estallar y los precios caerán.

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