Professor and Undergrad Team up on Homeowners Association Study

Posted: December 2, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Megan McDonnell

Most students turn in a college paper with relief, never wanting to see it again. Others may want it back for corrections, but very few students expect their homework to be published.

Professor of Economics Alex Tabarrok saw potential in senior Amanda Agan’s required paper for Introduction to Econometrics. Together they reworked the paper into a study that appeared in the fall 2005 issue of Regulation magazine, published by the Cato Institute.

The study, which can be viewed here, examined whether belonging to a homeowners association (HOA) raises property values. The study found that in the United States more than 54.6 million people live in various HOAs.

“Despite the fact that HOAs are exploding in numbers, this study is the first to measure their value,” says Tabarrok. “We found that in Northern Virginia, a home in an HOA is worth five percent, or about $14,000 more than a similar home not in an HOA.”

The study, cited in a Nov. 15 op-ed column in the New York Times, has garnered quite a lot of notoriety for Agan and Tabarrok.

“For me, as a student, it was especially exciting to see the study cited by John Tierney in the New York Times,” said Agan, who is a global affairs major with a minor in economics. “Mr. Tierney spoke with Professor Tabarrok shortly after our article was published about the ‘mansionization’ issue in Chevy Chase, Md. It is interesting to see the ways in which people interpret and use our conclusions.”

Tabarrok has also been interviewed for an upcoming piece in Smart Money and both Tabarrok and Agan have received e-mails from all over the country with questions about HOAs.

“One of the leading researchers on urban issues e-mailed me after the paper was published to say that he had put the paper on his reading list,” Tabarrok said.

“Amanda went from reading the reading list to being on it very quickly.”

Now, as part of an independent study, Agan is working on a new line of research to discover if sex offender registries work to avoid repeat crimes and whether they help to deter future child molesters and rapists. She hopes to discover why they work or don’t work and plans to complete the study in the spring.

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