GWIRE: Global Women in Real Estate — September 2021 Events

Housing – Can society afford not to?

27 September 2021

Despite the pandemic-induced global recession, house prices in major markets have experienced unsustainable inflation putting a significant strain on affordability. Can our society come up with meaningful critical long-term solutions to address the looming housing crisis? We have invited several eminently qualified academics to share insights from their current research and stimulate a robust discussion on emerging trends and areas for future research.



Professor Paloma Taltavull de La Paz (University of Alicante)

Paloma and her team of researchers are looking at ways to define and measure affordability in four European countries (Spain, Italy, Germany and Poland). Their review of literature identified a gap in the current definition of affordability, namely the lack of focus on housing affordability and poverty. This raises important questions such as: whether housing induces poverty, whether housing costs induce poverty, and whether homeownership alleviates poverty.

Professor Rachel Ong ViforJ (Curtin University)

This presentation will firstly reflect on long-run trends in housing inequality in Australia since the early 2000s. It will then consider how COVID-19 and housing policies that have been implemented during the pandemic will shape future inequalities in the Australian housing landscape in the years to come.

Dr Catherine Gilbert (University of Sydney)

Can cities afford not to house their key workers? The pandemic has highlighted the role many workers play in the health and safety of cities and their resilience to crisis events. But with low and moderate incomes, many workers who perform essential public services, often referred to as ‘key workers’, are struggling to access appropriate and affordable housing close to the communities they serve. This presentation will draw on the findings of a recent in-depth study into the housing affordability challenges and responses of workers in 21 occupation groups in Sydney and Melbourne. It will discuss the risks lack of affordable housing is creating for those cities and potential policy responses going forward.

Professor Christine Whitehead (London School of Economics)

Perhaps the most surprising post-covid outcome has been the rapid house price increases observed in many industrialised countries. These tend to be explained by a wish for more space both indoors and outdoors, private and public. It is also significantly an outcome of working from home. One important question is whether these price increases are a short- or longer-term phenomenon, especially given that most of those buying have property to sell – and rents may also be facing a different trajectory. The presentation will discuss the evidence so far available and ask more about the fundamentals that might be expected to drive demand into the longer term.

Dr Lynn Fisher (US Federal Housing Finance Agency)

Lynn will share insights on the latest house price index and how the pandemic reshaping housing prices and markets in the US.

Organizing Committee:

Co-Chairs: Olga Filippova – Karen Sieracki

Members: Fernanda Antunes – Pernille H Christensen – Velma Zahirovic-Herbert – Catherine Kariuki – Kwan Ok Lee – Meagan McCollum – Prisca Simbanegavi – Yi Wu


This event is made possible by the volunteer organizers and participants.  We acknowledge the support of the Presidents and Executive Directors of IRES and its sister societies.  A special thank you to Olga Filippova at the University of Auckland (New Zealand) for hosting the event.