A guy just transcribed 30 years of for-rent ads. Here’s what it taught us about housing prices
Michael Andersen
3.3K222

As you indicate in your comments, a lot of people live in the suburbs and commute. Wouldn’t improved transportation options increase relative attractiveness of the suburbs? (Marginal rate of substitution in economics.) Local-ish Hyperloop to Fairfield? Autonomous cars that relieve traffic and allow me to eat breakfast while watching CNBC on my way to work? Improvements in transit (availability, comfort, and speed) would seem to flatten out housing prices over a broader geographic area.

Another variable is the attractiveness of the place without regard to employment metrics. For example, in Honolulu competition for housing units is keen from retirees and vacationers. San Francisco would be an attractive spot even if all the jobs left town. In an attractive city the wealth (and not just employment income) of potential residents becomes a factor. So increasing the housing base would likely just attract more outsiders with non-employment funds available.

Frankly, I’m in favor of allowing residents to have input for the appropriate level for local housing prices through elected officials setting zoning and density standards, but they need to realize the variables at play. I’ve got no problem with prices being outlandish in, say, Beverly Hills, Nob Hill, or the Upper West Side. Not everybody needs to live there. There is no constitutional right to housing in beachfront property in Malibu. There is plenty of housing in Detroit, Huntsville, Lubbock, etc.

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