Building Our Way Out Of The Bubble Won't Work
Often when the subject of affordable housing comes up, the knee-jerk reaction is "build more houses". In this Voice of San Diego piece, a veteran of the housing scene discusses why that's not working.
"The developers have learned a new trick after the last local real estate price bubble popped in 1989. It's called controlling the 'absorption rate.' It goes like this: A builder gets the land and zoning approvals to build new housing subdivisions, but only builds in small numbers of new homes. That is done for two reasons. One is to make sure that housing prices remain high by limiting the supply of new homes, and the other is to ensure that they can sell all the homes in each partial release of homes before they invest in the next."
"The San Diego Building Industry Association has done a very slick public relations job of linking the problem of a lack of affordable housing and regulatory restraints on unlimited homebuilding in the public's mind. The argument is that we could build a lot more homes if the regulations didn't get in the way."
"The truth is that builder actions to limit the number of homes they release into the market at any one time is a key factor driving up home prices, along with all the young speculators who are getting in with nothing down. Many of the speculators are going to go bust when the price bubble bursts, but the builders will continue to profit as much as they can."