- That’s what we paid for it – The Spell of the Home Purchase Price through the Centuries (with Piet Eichholtz, Maastricht University)
This paper is the first to provide empirical insights into the long-term nature of the loss aversion bias. Using a database of Amsterdam housing transactions spanning 324 years, the paper studies the question whether loss aversion was present in centuries past, whether its effects were stable across these centuries, and whether the psychological effect of the purchase price on selling behavior eroded with time and through the occurrence of important events.
The purchase price of the house is found to have been a psychological anchor, below which home owners were reluctant to sell their home. This result holds for 17th and 18th century Dutch home owners as well as for those who followed in their wake, but loss aversion appears to get stronger over the centuries. The anchoring power of the purchase price was strong: it survived the death of the original owner when the house passed on to the heirs. It was however diminished by loss realizations in housing transactions in the direct vicinity, and even more so by the occurrence of wars involving foreign occupation. The aversion to a loss relative to the purchase price was also gradually reduced by the time passed since the purchase.