This article develops a model where ownership improves efficiency of the housing market as it enhances the utility of housing consumption for some consumers. The model is based on an extended Hotelling-Lancaster utility approach in which the ideal variant of housing is obtainable only by adapting the home through a supplementary investment. Ownership offers low costs of adaptation, but has high contract costs compared with renting. Consumers simultaneously decide housing demand and tenure, and because of the different cost structure only consumers with strong preferences for individual adaptation of the home choose ownership. This article analyses the consumer's optimization. The model provides an explanation for the observation that homeowners typically live in larger dwelling units than tenants. It also provides and explanation for a high price on housing services tending to reduce homeownership rates.
Journal of Housing Economics, 2008, Vol 17, Issue 1, p. 102-115