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Hidden complexity in housing markets: a case for alternative models and techniques

David Wyman (Center for Entrepreneurship, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA)
Elaine Worzala (Richard H. Pennell Center for Real Estate Development, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)
Maury Seldin (Homer Hoyt Institute, North Palm Beach, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis

ISSN: 1753-8270

Article publication date: 30 September 2013




The purpose of this exploratory paper is to examine the lack of reliability of traditional neo-classical models and to argue that it is due to the hidden complexity and non-linearity that may operate at times in residential housing markets. As a result, market efficiency may be a special case, rather than the prevailing rule. An alternative framework that incorporates the higher order concepts of complexity – based on the non-linear, emergent behavior of multiple agents – is required to model discontinuities and imbalances in the housing markets.


The paper examines the building block concepts required to model the complexity of the housing market and analyzes their implications. These implications can be counter-intuitive and help explain the failure of policy makers to model the recent bust in global housing markets.


The paper finds that policy makers need to adopt an analytical framework that incorporates non-linearity, emergence and other building blocks of complexity in order to construct representative financial models that help understand systemic imbalances that may afflict residential housing markets.


This is the first paper to one's knowledge that argues that policy makers should adopt an alternative theoretical framework based on complexity concepts in order to create more effective financial models; such models should include indicators that provide early warning signals of potential discontinuities in housing markets.



Wyman, D., Worzala, E. and Seldin, M. (2013), "Hidden complexity in housing markets: a case for alternative models and techniques", International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 383-404.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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