The Real Estate Connection - News from the Wisconsin Real Estate Program

Housing-Urban-Labor-Macro (HULM) Conference Explores Causes and Consequences of the Housing Crisis

The Real Estate Connection: April 2012
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Federal Reserve Bank of BostonThe University of Wisconsin-Madison has long been known as a leader in research, including cutting-edge explorations of housing and economic issues conducted by the UW-Madison real estate faculty. Compelling real-life problems challenge these leading academics to find unique solutions for improving our urban environment worldwide.

In March, the UW real estate faculty joined their peers in sharing the findings of their research at the sixth Housing-Urban-Labor-Macro (HULM) Conference, held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. This biannual conference was first held in the fall of 2009 and is now well known for facilitating the presentation and discussion of some of the most impressive real estate and urban research conducted by leading academics from around the world.

"We organized the first HULM conference in an effort to create a new venue for the rapidly growing field of real estate research," says Professor and Graaskamp Center Academic Director Morris A. Davis. "Our partnerships with the Federal Reserve Banks in Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis have helped us widen our audience and bring this research to the people who will benefit the most from it."

The spring 2012 HULM conference was organized by Professor Erwan Quintin, a former senior economist and policy advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. "A unique aspect of this event is the collaboration it fosters between academic researchers who study optimal policy responses to various real estate events and the very people who implement these policy responses," says Quintin. "This includes not only Federal Reserve economists but also researchers from government-sponsored agencies."

As has been the case for most HULM meetings to date, the causes and consequences of the foreclosure boom emerged as the dominant question at the Boston Fed event. Among other presenters, Kyle Herkenhoff discussed the effect of foreclosure delays on the length of unemployment spells, while Paul Willen proposed a new and improved way to measure the effect of foreclosed properties on the value of neighboring homes.

Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, argued that the deterioration of underwriting standards is the most likely explanation for the recent boom-bust cycle in home prices. That presentation prompted a very lively debate on what caused this deterioration in the first place. Two possible explanations are a regulatory environment more tolerant of risky mortgages around the turn of the century and the effects of increased demand for the investment grade paper created via mortgage securitization.

Urban economics questions also received their fair share of attention, with several presentations devoted to explaining why observationally similar people tend to earn very different amounts in different cities. Gilles Duranton, for his part, discussed a new approach to measure the speed with which urban costs rise with city size.

At the end of the two-day conference, Quintin says he feels the goals of presentation and collaboration were well met.

"HULM is a unique opportunity for economists around the world who study real estate questions to exchange and debate ideas," Quintin says. "Research ideas are born or become more mature at HULM, new co-authorships are formed, and new policy proposals emerge." Davis echoes this sentiment, saying, "When you have 40 people in a room that are all experts, we are able to learn from listening to what people we don't typically interact with have to say."

The next HULM Conference will take place at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on October 5-6, 2012.

Photo credit: Fox O'Rian.

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Featured Events

Employers -- Join Our Minneapolis Networking Reception!
If you are an employer who is looking for talent who can make an immediate impact on your company, you are invited to join us at networking reception in Minneapolis on April 17th. You’ll meet our staff of career placement professionals, learn more about the Wisconsin School of Business, and hear how we can make your recruitment efforts efficient and successful. We hope to see you there!

To make your reservation or to learn more about Wisconsin’s career placement services, please email Matt Nelson, associate director of the MBA Career Management Center, at or 608-265-5102.

Final Round Application Deadline for Real Estate MBA is April 27
The application process for the Wisconsin Real Estate MBA is winding down. The deadline for the final round is April 27. (Applications will be accepted on a space available basis after April 27.) Alumni and friends of the program are encouraged to refer candidates to the Graaskamp Center. Please contact Sharon McCabe or apply here. For some application advice, see Sharon's tips on our blog here.

Check Out the Final Agenda – "New Beginnings: Assessing the State of Our Industry"
Check the final agenda for the 2012 Graaskamp Center spring board meeting! On April 17-18 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, the Graaskamp Center will bring together an all-star lineup of real estate leaders and renowned academics to discuss "New Beginnings: Assessing the State of Our Industry." The keynote address by Lee Neibart, Global CEO of AREA, on Tuesday evening and the sessions on Wednesday will explore the outlook for the real estate industry, provoke discussion on long delayed issues of debt resolution and infrastructure investment, and look to broader global issues affecting our region. View agenda and register now.

Building a Housing Policy That Works
On June 1 in Madison, the 2012 Wisconsin Real Estate & Economic Outlook Conference will discuss what policies the current or the next administration should implement to design a healthy, responsible, functioning, and efficient housing market. Featured speakers include Karl “Chip” Case (co-founder of the Case Shiller Home Price Index); Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the NAR; and Curt Culver, President of MGIC. Learn more. Register now.

Events Calendar

May 3
AREIT Board Meeting
Madison, WI

May 17-19
Madison, WI

June 6-7
Graaskamp Center Spring Board Meeting
American Club
Kohler, WI

Sept 18-19
WREAA Trends Conference
Chicago, IL

October 16
Graaskamp Roundtable Dinner
Madison, WI

October 17
Wisconsin Real Estate & Economic Outlook Conference
Madison, WI

November 21
Fall Board Dinner
New York, NY

November 22
Global Real Estate Markets Conference
New York Stock Exchange
New York, NY