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We Can Make Housing More Affordable: New at Reason

Monday, October 31, 2016 10:10
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Less regulation would make housing more affordable and spur economic mobility.

A. Barton Hinkle writes:

Several factors affect housing costs, and there’s little to be done about some of them: Nobody is making more land, for instance. On the other hand, governments are making more regulations—and the price of housing would shift dramatically if they would just stop.

You don’t have to be a bleeding-heart libertarian to think that, either. Even the Obama administration has come around to that view; in September Politico reported the White House was urging localities “to rethink their zoning laws, saying that antiquated rules on construction, housing and land use are contributing to high rents and income inequality, and dragging down the U.S. economy as a whole.”

It has good reason to say so. In recent years new-home prices generally have been at least a third higher than resale prices. This summer The Wall Street Journal cited “several recent studies (that) have documented how increased regulatory and permitting costs” have driven them up. The rules cover everything from impact fees and stormwater runoff to species surveys and architectural mandates.

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