Here's one who comes right out and explains this:
> Meanwhile, local opposition to building is so commonplace and the approval process so cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive, even when a proposed project complies entirely with requirements, approvals are not forthcoming, at least in an expeditious manner and needed supply is simply not provided. Recently I heard of a new acronym to add to my vocabulary: CAVE, Citizens Against Virtually Everything, to be added to NIMBYISM and BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone).
Support groups like https://yimbyaction.org/ if you want to 'stick it to the investors'. If there's a credible threat to build plenty of housing, they'll move on.
I don't know what this could mean at the city or county level. Keep an eye out for wayward Sultans and Allied powers?
To Western Europeans coming from the very loose state structure of feudalism, the fact that the Byzantine Empire was effectively a modern state (similar to ancient China) was practically incomprehensible to them. Hence the phrase! On the flip-side, the level of institutional capacity let the Romans and Byzantines ride out incompetent Emperors fairly well compared to feudal states that would quickly disintegrate with one bad roll of the "off-spring lottery".
Even the most blatantly tyrannical presidents through history hit a wall of bureaucracy. It's slow, but people like me tend to get murdered when tyrants take over, so I'll take it over a quick changing system that can easily turn against me.
Even if you only count from the time it didn’t share an Emporer with the West, rather than viewing it as a linear continuation of the Roman State, looking at the Eastern Roman Empire as somehow a state that did a substandard job of standing the test of time is, well, implicitly setting a really high bar, since even counted from the partition its, what, the second longest lasting state in history?
just use a septic field instead of the sewer hookup if the county won't play ball. then they can't increase your sewer rates every year.
I'm not an American so I don't know anything about your system. But perhaps the existence of many state level regulations crowds out the city and state level regulations and therefore you get less uncooperativity and more straightforwardness?
Really I think the state ought to be setting complete menus that the local governments can pick from and apply in specific areas. If it's not possible to build a house in some location, it should be clear that it's not possible to build a house in that location. And if it is, it should be clear that it is.
It's less that it's any more straightforward in NY or CA, it's just that zoning and NIMBYism regulation is not the sole domain of either American political party. You can't escape it by moving to a red state.
The usual canard is something like "California won't build more dense housing, so I'm moving to Texas," but housing is even less dense in Texas, so lower costs are not caused by less regulation around housing density! It's just that the ratio of supply to demand isn't as out of whack yet, as metro area populations have been lower and the cities themselves less landlocked, so building out has been easier and cheaper.
Before the building permit was issued I had spent $120k on a fourteen-inch stack of documents and fees, for a house of 2200 ft^2 (~200 m^2).
It has got much more restrictive in the intervening time. New construction in the timber production zones has just about halted.
If "a dwelling would be impossible", the logical conclusion is that zero dwellings would be allowed.
This situation is the norm in US unincorporated zoning. I have never heard of any unincorporated jurisdiction with a "minimum residences per parcel regardless of parcel size" exception. If there is such a jurisdiction, it's the exception not the rule.
There is a limit to how many dwellings an area can support without major infrastructure upgrades (sewerage, water lines, new roads, additional sheriff's deputies). This limit has to be divided among the parcels. The fairest way to do it is by acreage. "Minimum acres per dwelling" is just the reciprocal expression of "maximum dwellings per acre" and more well-behaved since fractional acres make sense but fractional dwellings do not.
Giving tiny postage-stamp parcels the right to build one dwelling would be a windfall for all the kooky "sliver parcels" created by things like railroads and surveyors' errors. Those obnoxious error parcels are made undevelopable in order to encourage that they be merged into a neighboring parcel.
Costs like for all city services are standard everywhere in California.
The reason is proposition 13. Cities can't raise taxes to pay for services so they basically have to charge for each service "a la carte". That sewer charge is more or less for what you and others are going to get from the city over some longer time frame. It suck but the alternative is home owners paying taxes, which home owners have decided they don't want to do.
That being said there was one guy in LA who built a massive house called the enterprise I think. Edit: he lost in court and is being forced to demolish it.
I've met a significant number of otherwise carefully law abiding people with various non-permitted remodels and even outbuildings. (I guess the latter won't work so well in the future now that we have regularly collected high resolution elevation maps). It really seems like something is wrong with how this is handled across most of the US.
The refusal to issue a septic permit noted in a nearby comment is a prime example. Such things should be "will issue" so long as they won't cause any health or environmental problems in that location.
The problem isn't that they're forbidden from using a septic field when there's a perfectly good sewer line nearby. The problem is that they're being charged $40k for a sewerage connection. Where I live, it costs only $1000 for all the permits and inspections required for a new connection.
I would have to disagree that the unreasonably high fee is the only problem there. Charging a captive customer an unreasonable amount is certainly abusive. But so is arbitrarily forbidding what is permitted on private land. Such restrictions should require clear and articulable justification based on real world impact.
This is really outside my wheelhouse, but I could see an argument being made about the capacity of the larger system.
E.g. The direct, marginal cost of installing service to your house is $200 to review the plans, send the guy out for an inspection etc. But the added capacity requirements of you and the 10 new houses in your development puts an upstream sewer out of capacity, costing $50,000 to upgrade. If you don't charge the full marginal cost through the whole system for the upgrade, either the rest of the city is subsidizing your marginal cost, or there's a significant monetary shortfall on the short (say 1-3 year) timeframe, and you'll hope a rate increase is approved to make up for it.
If there were a need to charge for capacity upgrades, it seems such things should be billed separately and explicitly. (My electric bill itemizes hookup, transmission, and generation among other things.)
And absolutely none of it explains why septic should be disallowed!
These days, septic should be disallowed, if a reasonable sewer is available, as these days the effluents contain all kinds of toxic and non-degradable stuff that poisons the land and ground water. Over here, lossy septic tanks are illegal. You can either hookup to a sewer, treat your wastewater in situ via certified processes or, under some conditions, use a non-draining septic tank and have the wastewater treated.
I don't know your profession but let's take a statistical guess and say you're a software developer.
I think the local municipality typically sends an employee out to do the inspection? At least that's how it worked for me in the past (tbf that wasn't specifically sewer though). Permits having a nominal paperwork fee is understandable.
I very much doubt that the inspector only visits one property per day, or that they are paid anywhere near $1000 per day.
Near me, someone is sticking up protest letters at bus stops complaining a developer wants to build flats. For heaven's sake, people need to live somewhere, please do build.
One of the effects of how their zoning classes work is that you don't have "residential-only" zones with no shops or other amenities - instead you have zones defined along the lines of maximum nuisance and with overlapping uses. You have a total of 12 zones, which start from "exclusively low rise residential" that are essentially low density houses that can be also small shops or offices + schools, to exclusively industrial zones that prevent residential or other construction - but it's a spectrum between them.
Obviously some of that is to be expected of an island nation versus a continent-spanning one. And yet, so much of Tokyo seems like it's built at the scale of a small-town main street: Between the major roads with their skyscrapers sit networks of pedestrian-friendly streets with little shops and restaurants, often crossed by even smaller yokocho which themselves have bars and flats. Quiet side streets intermix residential buildings and even single-family homes, and yet somehow these little districts are all linked up together into the world's largest metropolis.
It has little to do with "island nation", most nations use mixed zoning, it's certainly the standard in europe (and recent developments are gravitating towards more mixed zoning e.g. Amsterdam's eastern docklands). It could have to do with being an old nation, but even then that's not actually true, the US existed for a while before cars happened.
Now I'm speculating, but I wonder if Japan, being mostly Japanese people, didn't have such a large group to exclude from certain neighborhoods? So they didn't entrench the institution of local control and exclusionary zoning?
The public schools I taught at in Japan kept (private) lists of which kids came from burakumin families.
I've lived in Japan for 30 years, and I've never seen the topic so clearly explained.
Edit: BTW, in case you were wondering about the special zoning classification, "bathhouses with private rooms" are in a very different business than bathhouses without private rooms.
Also, New Zealand has some of the least affordable housing in the world, and it's only getting worse.
I don't know about Japan, but that can't possibly be right about NZ. Nobody in our generation will ever be able to afford a home in Auckland.
Land Value Tax sorely needed.
You’ll never be able to afford unless you do it.
Japan has a declining population, but the population keeps urbanising. So while there's hefty supply (literally millions of unoccupied housing inventory) in places nobody wants to live in, there is not in places where people are moving to (large cities).
There's very regularly news and posts about unoccupied houses ("akiya") being literally given away by government and local authorities because even at auction for pennies nobody wants to bid on rural properties. There was one going through here just last week.
Some prefectures are nearing 20% vacancy rates, but they're places like… well basically all of Shikoku which is largely mountainous and rural, and has been bleeding population at a rate of 5%/decade since 2000.
That's crazy to me, Tokushima in Shikoku was on my short list of "ideal relocation spots". With just a few hours of scenic driving, you can be in Kochi, Takamatsu, Matsuyama, Okayama, or Wakayama. All with populations of 300,000-700,000 (so decent mid-tier cities). So you could easily geographically distribute 4-5 girlfriends across those towns and combine them with some awesome driving experiences in-between.
Osaka and Kobe aren't much further if you really want a big-city party nightlife occasionally too.
This comment took an unexpected turn. Why can you not have girlfriends in the same town?
Japan's urban population is somewhere between stagnating and declining, not increasing. The contraction trend is even worse in most of their cities other than Tokyo.
Simultaneously the percentage of the population that is urban, is very slowly increasing.
Those are two very different things. Their cities are net contracting in population. They're now nationally losing people faster than they're urbanizing. They're currently losing around a quarter of a million people per year nationally. Their cities are not expanding faster than that drop. And given their already very high urbanization rate (and very slow rate of urbanization increase), it's unlikely anything will significantly change in that regard. This decade will see either a mostly flat population trend in Tokyo, or a modest contraction. What it won't show, is a meaningful expansion, as their national population contraction gets worse.
The pandemic put enough pressure on Tokyo that it actually contracted for the first time in ~25 years.
February 25, 2021
"Tokyo, Feb. 25 (Jiji Press)--Tokyo's estimated population fell by 662 from a year before to 13,952,915 as of Feb. 1, marking its first year-on-year decline in about 25 years, the metropolitan government said Thursday."
However, if you go back further, you can see the trend was already toward decline. This is from 2019:
June, 2019, The Guardian
"Has Tokyo reached ‘peak city’?"
"One could argue that the world’s biggest city has hit a sweet spot: a flatlining population, pervasive transit and little gentrification. But is ‘peak city’ even possible – and where does Tokyo go from here?"
"Unlike many megacities, the world’s largest metropolitan area has largely stopped growing, either in land or population."
This decade it'll go negative. The exodus - a desperate flight from California's particularly horrible governments and epic mismanagement - will get worse yet, not better.
Fewer people want to live in California and it's very obvious why.
2010 to 2020, California saw a 6% population expansion. The slowest decade of population growth in a century for the state. Year to year, it went from very slow growth at the beginning, to zero by the end. Next is a contraction.
Texas by contrast saw 16% expansion in that time. It's booming and it's also very obvious why.
"You can tell that the government has failed and nobody wants to live their by the fact that it's too expensive" doesn't really add up to me...
Texas cities have lots of empty surrounding land to sprawl into further, which massively helps with supply and prices. This is not some magic feat of government. They're less dense, not more dense.
First of all, the data actually shows that while 90-100k people moved from CA to TX every year since 2019, about 40-50k moved from TX to CA, and the demographics of the TX->CA move is higher income, educated earners, and the move from CA->TX is far less Silicon Valley elite, and far more from the central valley, and tends to be blue collar.
Growth follows an S-curve, and in every major successful city in the world, be it NY, London, Seoul, Shanghai, or Tokyo, eventually you run into a slowdown, as cost of living increases.
A contraction in CA's population won't be bad, because CA is still brain draining the rest of the country and still receiving a higher chunk of investment funds compared to other states.
Reducing the burden of non-growth industries by sending them to TX along with blue collar workers, while taking the lions share of immigration of people with advanced degrees, as well as the lionshare of VC investment, seems like a good trade.
Honestly, Arizona is looking a lot better to me than Texas over the next decade. With 6 new state of the art semiconductor fabs under construction (2 TSMC, 2 Intel, 1 Samsung, 1 NXP) totalling $50 billion, another $100 billion in investment promised by TSMC, and the recently enacted $50 billion Senate semiconductor package, if you're looking for the next Silicon Valley, the Silicon Desert looks more like an early real estate opportunity than the Silicon Hills.
I don't think California has much to worry about, everything that makes the state great: It's natural environment, weather, colleges, parks, industry nexii, it's diverse culture, food, wine country, etc is still there. I know you desparately want to run with the conservative talking points on taxes and regulations, but CA's population growth issues have little to do with "high taxes" as many conservatives claim. Median CA household income is $57k, the State effective tax rate on that income is 3.7%, which puts CA in the middle of the pack when it comes to state tax burdens. CA only really takes a big bite of you if you make a lot of money, but as I've already explained, CA has net positive migration of high income earners, and net positive business migration/creation too.
Gang violence, over regulation, out of control prices, etc.
Can’t imagine going back with all this nonsense around legalizing shop lifting, segregation coming back.
Let the downvotes start
Separately I hate the over usage of the word "fled". No one was chasing anyone. In an age of basically yearly refugee crises in the world it's terrible to see its overuse.
Now I note they don't mention Texas quite so much, anymore.
It all has to do with meeting the demand where the demand exists.
Neighbors want no development. Developers want to build more of the ubber expensive houses the neighbors want to protect. You need regulations that encourage dense, ideally very dense, housing. Enough dense housing and you can "preserve the character" (if not the home values) of the smallish towns.
Generally the area gets bootstrapped by some major need or force that is so potent that it establishes a vibrant economy around, and if it's potent enough, even after the need has passed.
Major civics projects like damns might do this. (Grand Coulee damn along the Columbia River comes to mind.)
Ongoing jobs like military bases might provide enough logistical need. Or a factories / exploitation of natural resources (fishing, forestry, coal, iron, processing / shipping along waterways) where there's sufficient density. Sometimes it's conditions favorable for the flow of talent, like good worker protections and a rich field of jobs so that someone can settle and build resources: Opportunity that, IMO the rich have largely denied those born in the 80s and after via housing policies and investments exactly like those mentioned in the article.
The big difference between Japanese and American cities is that Japan is built for trains, which scale up really well, and the US is built for cars, which don't.
I'm not talking about constructing a town from scratch. I'm talking about an existing town. Adding the infrastructure for high density housing to a town that wasn't originally designed for it is very expensive.
Putting down a small self driving street car for short trips removes a lot of road congestion in town. And if you just place navigation tags into the pavement - you avoid the need for expensive AI based nav system.
In many cities, it's the poorer denser neighborhoods that subsidize the more affluent less dense neighborhoods.
Scroll down to red and green map here:
The same tends to be true of roads, but with less catastrophic results. In a town where going 2 miles can take 20 minutes, adding a lot more housing without adding road capacity is not a great plan.
We recently dealt with an out of state builder pushing to have a property that was zoned Neighborhood Commercial to be rezoned to something more flexible so that he could build 49 town homes with 49 parking spots on 5 acres of land.
Everybody opposed the rezoning and fought to defeat it. The project would have been the most dense townhome development in 4 counties.
There is uniform agreement that people want commercial projects built there as zoned, but I wonder if the opposition would be classified as NIMBY?
If you believe that no town homes should be built in the U.S. than you might not qualify as NIMBY.
But if you believe that town homes shouldn't be built next to you that's the definition of NIMBY. Of course every instance has a long list of reasons why next to them is especially bad, character of the neighborhood, parking issues, infrastructure, etc....
But the end result of everyone fighting increased density in their neighborhood is we have a less density (bad for environment) and more expensive housing.
That means more jobs open up and makes the place more lively. More desireable.
That means the house property value will go up.
They are thinking "will this make the property value go down in the next 5 years"? vs "will this make the property value skyrocket in the next 10 years".
We are catering to short-term gains at the expense of long-term.
Bay Area has plenty of this type. Many of them already have had property value skyrocket (50K -> 2M is not uncommon), so they can just have both (high property values, and preserve their neighborhood exactly as they want it).
I think they should be forced to choose one or the other. Keep their SFH and say no to FANG, or accept townhomes and condos to balance out the new jobs.
I think commercial property just doesn't burden the city. A Google office has private security, a fire suppression system, and doesn't house kids who need to attend the school district.
People essentially want to be surrounded by people of almost exactly their economic class to somewhat richer. To rich and stores they can’t afford to stay ie gentrification, to poor and you have to move ie white flight.
As to driving prices down, some houses in good condition are selling for ~25-50k which would be worth more basically anywhere else in the US.
The transition within a city is rarely about some specific employer shutting down. The more general case is homes age and different areas become attractive over time. You can find areas where nearly identical homes where build across a wide area, yet one community falls into disrepair while another becomes desirable simply based on school zoning.
A house that a doctor and a lawyer are competing to buy is going to be go for more than the one an auto mechanic and a fireman are competing for.
Every real estate website has school ratings for each house listing because it is such a sought after amenity.
But, in existing zones? Maybe not - you'd have to convince people to change residential to commercial/retail. And changes to parking minimums, which always seem to screw up projects (they almost always require more parking than a "free market" would dictate).
I lived in an area that, for years, refused to let an old railroad track be converted into a trail because it would connect a working class area of the town to an upper middle class area via a miles-long footpath.
Stop trying to tell people what they ought to want. Not everyone agrees.
But it feels like (in SF at least) we have people with conflicting goals: they want to live in a city, but they want their experience to be similar to suburbia.
I want to live in a city and for it to actually feel like an urban environment! I want to walk everywhere for my day-to-day needs, and take transit for everything else. I want to sell my car and rent one only for the times I want to leave the city. But we're in this weird middle state where that often doesn't work. My guess is that the only place in the US where it really does work is NYC, and then maybe even only really in Manhattan.
It's probably the case that it's the only place in the country where it's considered perfectly normal as an adult not to own a car even if you have plenty of money.
There are--especially given Zipcar/Uber/etc.--other cities where people can get buy without owning a car, especially if it's a young post-college lifestyle. But it probably requires organizing your life around not owning a car to a certain degree.
I have been told that central Washington D.C. and Chicago are also very transit and pedestrian friendly. It is not a requirement to own a car in those places.
Many jobs are in the suburban areas near metros rather than in metros themselves. SV is somewhat unusual in that a large swath of suburban area is as expensive or more expensive than in the city itself. This isn't the case with a lot of cities.
People tend to work away from where they live (at least for high paying jobs) and prefer having ample space at home therefore I don't think higher density would increase property value as you stated.
Once you get into the $500-$1MM range density falls again, as these are the McMansions in suburbia. Density keeps dropping as price goes down until you get into the slums territory, which are basically the pockets of urban blight that haven't been redeveloped yet.
Not even. Near here, there was a proposal from the city to increase middle-density housing.
They hired economic forecasters. Their projection, that property values would "decrease" from 13% YOY increases (we are in one of the highest increasing cities in the country) to 9% YOY.
In other words, you'd still see your home value _increasing_ 53% in five years (versus 84%), not decreasing...
... and people still acted like the city wanted to shoot their first-born in the streets.
The major factor driving housing inflation is restricted supply, which is relative to demand. Demand is created primarily by jobs. The difference between jobs and employed residents (with overhead for non-working family members etc) drives the imbalance. If demand was being met, prices would plummet.
This factor is orthogonal to overall density. The Bay Area is expensive because there is not enough housing for the jobs. If San Jose became as dense as SF, it would not help anything, unless that growth was focused primarily on housing. But San Jose already supplies net housing and SF supplies net jobs. These are not small imbalances either; they are both 6 figures in 2008 ACS commute data. (Unfortunately that dataset seems to be compiled very infrequently, but I doubt things have changed much other than density increasing.)
Portland, Ore. is facing a huge housing crisis because single-home zoning prevented increasing density. Without the ability to create more housing on existing land, there is a shortage. It's that simple. They recently passed a law allowing more dense developments, and that will create more supply. There are currently 10 apartment projects in flight in the city, so there is no cabal conspiring to not build housing as you suggested.
Unfortunately, current homeowners love the shortage because it is increasing the value of their homes in ways we haven't seen since ... ever. Which is incredibly short-sighted because the economy will stall without housing, which will crater the boom. Moreso because if they sell, where are they going to move in the same town? They would need to sell and leave town to someplace cheaper. It is amazing to me how many people don't think one more step ahead.
I routinely take 3-mile walks through my neighborhood in NE Los Angeles. There are at least two homes on each block that are unoccupied. The nearby stack and pack developments don’t offset the inventory sitting idle.
I'm saying by taking inventory off the market by buying houses and leaving them vacant, investors are contributing to the housing shortage. I'm pretty sure collectively controlling a small percentage of the market, investors can cause an increase in the cost of housing, per the law of supply and demand.
Vacant homes from "investors" are almost certainly older residents that have moved, or passed away and left it to kids that haven't figured out what to do, or just owners in the area that have locked in low property taxes and don't want to bother with the hassle of renters.
These are precisely the small-time landholders that benefit the most from stopping apartments from being built, because the source of their investment games is entirely from scarcity.
And the cure is precisely to take away their ability to limit housing by building what you call "stack and pack."
Here's the behavior of PE firms when it comes to renting houses, they rent them out and charge for everything:
As for the vacancy rates, how do you know the homes are vacant, and what is the proper vacancy rate? These can be looked up in from Census ACS estimates, though I hear that the Post Office sometimes has better data.
I would say that a healthy vacancy rate is at least 7%, possibly higher.
If anything, Vancouver is solid evidence that vacant homes are not the problem, despite so many current homeowners being desperate to use them as an excuse not to build more homes. In Vancouver, the tax provides a small income stream, but has changed nothing at all structurally. And that's in combination with the foreign purchaser tax.
The one solution is to start building what people want, what you derisively call "stack and pack", in sufficient numbers over a long enough period of time to satisfy everyone's desire for housing.
We are not off the mark by 10% in the amount of homes needed in LA or the Bay Area, we are 30%-50% off or more. We have been under building for decades now.
Anything outside the yellow line can't be developed without a massive legal fight.
Do you have evidence of this? I would think increasing the supply of housing would have a downward effect on all housing. Sure, if you're really set on a SFH and there are fewer of them, you'll have to compete. But I think people who want a SFH want a SFH _neighborhood_, and there's an unanswered question to what extent different types of housing can substitute for one another.
The value of _land_ may increase with zoning because development rights are still in limited supply, and the profit opportunity for a developer has gone up. But I don't see many SFH owners clamoring to let their neighbors on both sides be replaced with 5-over-1.
In addition, many suburban areas are not exclusively single-family houses; they already contain a mixture of apartment buildings and commercial areas, so I dispute your point that single family home buyers insist on exclusively single-family neighborhoods. In most suburban areas I've seen, the apartment buildings tend to cluster together, often near a commercial area, so if you're deep in a sea of houses it's unlikely that your next door neighbor will sell to a developer. People may not be excited if their next door neighbor sells to a developer who plans to build an apartment complex, but that doesn't change the value of their lot, which has increased because the developer is willing to pay more for it if they can build bigger buildings on it.
I was talking about a market with no rules restricting what can be built, and in such a market the neighbor has no say, so their personal opinion is irrelevant. The guy I was arguing with wanted restrictions on housing types he liked to be repealed, but wanted restrictions on housing types he didn't like to be enacted, and I was trying to point out that hypocrisy. Building houses versus apartments is a balancing act governed by demand, but market distortions like banning one type of housing or another can cause an undersupply of certain types of housing, which leads to an increase in prices for the type of housing that is undersupplied and for the substitute it's would-be buyers end up using.
If you believe that SFH buyers do not insist on SFH neighborhoods (whole cities are not neighborhoods), and should welcome denser zoning because it makes their lot more attractive for redevelopment, go circulate a petition for this among SFH owners and see how far it gets.
To your other point about insisting on SFH-only neighborhoods, in large parts of the country, there are apartment buildings and large commercial areas spread between and in single family neighborhoods, and that hasn't stopped people from buying houses there. I wasn't arguing that they all should support higher density zoning, just that it is in their financial best interest to do so. Another major problem is that because the Bay Area has refused to build anything for decades, it has decades of unmet (or to use urbanist language "induced") demand for houses, apartments, roads, transit, etc. that has to be met before prices and congestion will start to go down. To maximize housing affordability you need a mix of sprawl and density with appropriate infrastructure for the type housing built, and if you only do one type of growth you will have many people who are unhappy, which is why in another comment in this thread I accused the YIMBY urbanist of being the same as a NIMBY SFH owner, just with a different preferred housing type. The Gallup survey I linked earlier shows that there are more people currently living in cities (presumably in apartments) who wish to live in suburbs or rural areas (presumably in houses) than the reverse, so there is an unmet demand for "sprawl" and options like remote work.
My major point if a SFH owner in SF was purely motivated by money, they would welcome development on their land and wish to limit it on others'. Many of them aren't though, and they aren't lying or using euphemisms when they say they want the character of their neighborhood preserved. I hear tons of arguments that they are opposing multi-family housing because it would lower their property values, and that just doesn't make sense. A San Francisco with an apartment built for everyone there who wants one and no other changes would most likely still have million dollar houses, though the rent of the apartments would be less.
> people like you
I think you may have been triggered by poor reading comprehension and gone off in a fit of ignorant rage and assumed I thought sprawl was a good thing.
How are you any different that the someone who doesn't want an apartment building built because it would change the character of the neighborhood? Both of you support policies that increase the cost of housing in the hopes that everyone will live the lifestyle that each of you prefer. You prefer multi-family housing and want people to live in it, and support policies that make it expensive to live in single-family housing. The hypothetical NIMBY (who is, as mentioned previously, not someone who is purely interested in maximizing their house's value) prefers to live in single family homes and wants it to be expensive to live in multi-family housing. I'm sure you'll reply with some handwavy thing about sustainability and externalities, but the NIMBY can similarly bring up crime, noise, congestion, and other issues with dense living. There is no difference other than which housing type the two groups prefer.
I would be less hostile if urbanists like yourself would just admit that they want to force everyone to live their prefered lifestyle instead of hiding behind bogus economical and questionable environmental arguments. If you truly just wanted the option to rent apartments then there would be no need for policies like urban growth boundaries. Removing both the zoning rules and the boundaries would allow for housing that people want to be developed, but what would you do if your neighbors make the "wrong" choice?
You've been nothing but hostile in this discussion (and apparently from your history, many others). Also you literally edited a comment to deny a claim you made. Just stop.
Apartments create greater affordability, they allow for designing cities with lower carbon impact than single-unit homes, they allow better community, more connections, cradle-to-grave living, they allow people to survive without having to get in a car to do any task during the day. They are fantastic. I would live in a "stack and pack" home in an instant if they were allowed in my community.
I also see a lot better community with less people, and I'm sure there are many reasons for that.
Which isn't to say anybody should be forced into a multi-unit building and mixed-use neighborhoods. But as you point out, prices for these types of settings are often higher than detached homes, indicating that they are under supplied and more people want them then are currently allowed to live in them.
I guess I’m just saying there should be cheap smaller houses and condos in cities too, not just rental places.
(One of my more heretical opinions is that homes and land shouldn't be considered investments, and should perhaps not be a method of wealth building, as it turns every person into an investor whether they want to be or not. Which fuels regular people to take control of the local political processes that block new homes with talk of "luxury condos" and "stack and pack." If we are going to do something like this I'd favor a sovereign wealth REIT that redistributes the wealth more evenly and removed the financial incentive to be anti-competitive in land use decisions. That, or tax away all profits from speculation on land gains.)
I've never heard of investors lobbying against social housing (in the UK at least).
Forcing investors and developers to provide "affordable housing" arguably makes the problem worse. I.e. it makes it harder to make a profit and therefore disincentivises building new homes.
Investment properties don't always turn into occupied rentals; sometimes they turn into vacation/secondary homes, airbnbs, &ct. They can also end up vacant if the dwelling is being used purely as an investment vehicle or if the landlord is uninterested in lowering rent in response to market forces, although it's hard (for me, a lay person who doesn't want to spend more than a couple minutes googling) to know if those are significant quantities of homes or just a rounding error.
>I've never heard of investors lobbying against social housing (in the UK at least).
I don't know how UK politics works, but in the US, large investment banks and lobbying groups pour huge amounts of money into our political system, and individual investors also happen to be voters. For example, the last CA ballot measure which would've improved housing justice somewhat (2020's prop 21) saw heavily-financed opposition from landlord associations.
>Forcing investors and developers to provide "affordable housing" arguably makes the problem worse. I.e. it makes it harder to make a profit and therefore disincentivises building new homes.
I don't really have opinions about whether you should force developers to provide affordable housing in new developments, since I think trying to wield market forces to fix social problems has a poor track record in general. If you (well, the government, civil society, whatever) want to incentivize building new affordable homes, you should just build them yourself.
Commercial is critical for '15 minute neighborhoods': https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2019/9/6/7-rules-for-cre... - but without the density to support local commerce, it's tough to justify it.
But I don't think 15 minute neighborhoods are likely what your angry neighbors had in mind, so most likely just NIMBYism.
There are about 1000 housing units being built, and there has been zero commercial development. It's great that they are building dwelling units here all around transit, but the only businesses that already exist are industrial, a gas station, and a dollar store. Commercial land owners have been refusing to sell to developers as they watch their land value increase. It's a real shame, but it does seem better than what existed before and the area certainly has potential.
The specifics will vary in every case, but in every case it will be some argument on why THIS is not the right place to build more housing. For every possible value of this. Areas that don't have extremely local control over zoning do a better job of combatting this.
But one of the main contributors to housing shortages is that areas have been overly permissive with commercial zoning (since they don’t have residents, city expenditure is low) which causes imbalances in the amount of jobs:people in an area. That in turn not only increases prices but increases traffic as some portion of people must be commuting from afar to fill those jobs.
A major irony is that California is approaching this all wrong. The "let Scott Wiener build whatever he wants" laws are in some cases being used to make the problem worse. See: Vallco Mall redevelopment plan, more jobs than housing.
Just how "massive" can that house be with a garden (say, 35sqm) and a garage (36sqm)? You can probably build a fine house in the remaining 330sqm, no doubt, but I'd hardly call it "massive". Maybe "generous".
OTOH, it might be a point-of-view problem: I'm in South Africa, with a 700sqm building on a 2000sqm plot, in a nice area near the train/bus stop, near all amenities.
From that point of view, 400sqm sounds positively like a mansion to me. Sure, would love that much space, but I have no idea if houses this large even exist anywhere nearby to buy, I've certainly haven't seen any.
Or are you implying you need a 500sqm house to raise two kids?
I don't think it's useful to try to determine if some loaded, politicized, pejorative term applies by definition.
Many Bay Area (I only know this market)counties will happily acccept the fee (upwards of $1000), and 99.99% of the time the Variance is not granted. I truly believe counties count on the fees for revenue.
I 've noticed a slight lightening up though.
Gavin Newsome made it much easier to build certain structures. He made in-law units (ADU) easier to build.
What happened is wealthy people took advantage of the laws, and added extra feet to their already huge house. These ADU will not be rented out to low income, or even strangers. The wealthy found a loophole, and used it to remodel their homes. Oh yea, their is still a lot of kissing town officials ass in order to build anything.
Neusome also mandated new apartments, and reasonably hosing, to be built. It is a great move. He slashed a lot of red tape. It's still a pain though. You will have town officials arguing over siding, window placement, gardens, exactly whom will be living in the ADU.
NIMBY's are alive and well in my county. Just about everytime we want to build a homeless shelter; homeowners scream, and officials listen. (Towns are panicking now over homeless. The homeless camps are getting bigger, and Thurston Howell III does not like looking at them. The Supreme court gave the homeless some rights though. Cops can't just harass them to move quite as easily as they did in the past.)
I have watched towns/counties harass homeowners who want to build since the 80's. (I was going to buy a cabin, and I knew the foundation would need to be replaced. Half the cabin was sitting on a redwood stump. I just wanted to put a foundation in, and it wasen't possible due to zoning.)
I don't like our building system. They make the process rediculiously expensive, and complicated (remember you, tge architect, the contractor, will be going to many meetings with town offivials begging to remodel, or build. They love saying no.
It's become a disensentive for middle class homeowners to remodel.
I currently have one fear over new residential building. It's water in the Bay Area. This drought does not feel temporary.
I woukd like to see apartment complexes build adjacent to 101, but the water shortage needs to be addressed.
At this point, I only trust care about very low income, and the homeless. I have never seen so many people without a roof over their heads.
If a protected classification like gentrification or environmental impact can be found, then it isn't NIMBY anymore.
Say for example, if the town homes projected to be priced higher than the neighborhood, there is a gentrification angle. Density often requires some environmental impact review. For example, a change in development density might have significant water runoff impacts that require a retention area large enough to make the development economically unviable.
I think finding a potential habitat for an endangered species is the strongest reclassification from NIMBY because it doesn't require any change to existing structures, mostly freezes things in place and has regulation from redundant inscrutable jurisdictions and the support of outside organizations that are generally successful and seeking new cases to work on.
Why? That's kind of an important point.
For example, unless this is NYC or similar, 49 townhomes is going to need a minimum of at least 110 parking spots (just to hold the occupants alone, assuming no one ever has guests ever). A realistic parking minimum should be 2.5 spots per townhouse.
A lot of builders outsource their pollution to the local neighborhood, especially on infrastructure (parking, water, sewer, electrical, natgas, etc). It's a common reason to opposed development, and it's a good one.
It's usually done to save cash, and it saves literally just pennies. (Parking on these projects, for example, is always less than 6% of the total cost. Cuts to sewer and electrical are less than 12% of total cost). Builders do it anyway, builders will generally build the literally shittiest thing code lets them get away with -- they'd build buildings that fall apart in the slightest breeze, if it were legal to do so.
This is why zoning rules, building codes, and the large piles of regulations are so important.
> The project would have been the most dense townhome development in 4 counties.
Ok, that means it would likely carry the highest prices per square foot in 4 counties, which means it would immediately make that neighborhood the most expensive neighborhood in 4 counties. Could that be a reason it was opposed? Density isn't free, it's a form of financial pollution that the other residents will mostly have carry the burden of. Not everywhere is California, not everywhere gets free unlimited property tax lock-ins. If you built a luxury townhouse next to a generic house, their taxes will spike 200%+ to cover your luxury development, and all nearby rents would spike in a similar way against nearby renters.
I get that California and San Francisco specifically is it's own unique terrible experience. But here in the Midwest, generally speaking, locals are pretty reasonable. You can get away with building almost anything you want, so long as you don't screw over the locals. (And I mean that quite literally, we have almost 100 new developments here in our small city, including the worlds gaudiest ugliest castle monstrosity -- zoning never stops builders ever, you can build anything you want anywhere you want, as long as you don't hurt too many people)
What is actually happening in most cases, is that some sort of builder wants to screw over all residents, residents rightly complain, and then those residents get labeled "NIMBY". The only time a project gets cancelled is when it makes residents bleed so much, they push back hard. And even then, local residents only win that fight about ~40% of the time.
Anyone who is already a home owner will find that increasing supply of homes a necessary function of the society decreases the value of the asset in which they have parked most of their wealth. Even when it increases the value you can't get them on board. Look at your own logic.
> my taxes will spike 200%+ to cover your luxury development
You aren't covering the cost of their development they are actually increasing the value of your property. For your taxes to spike 200% they would literally have to triple the value of your property. It's like they are throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bags full of hundred dollar bills over your fence and you are complaining about income tax.
Presumably if someone did something like build a crack house and halved the value of your property you wouldn't thank them for halving your tax bill!
Basically for any given project locals have interests that are almost always out of alignment with the rest of society. The some people in aggregate elect your state wide officials but at least those folks are apt to think and plan based on a broader perspective than the locals whose attitude is universally "I've got mine"
This is both the worst timeline and the worst most selfish nation.
They aren't throwing dollars over the fence, they're throwing debt over the fence.
Sure, my property is on-paper worth more. If I cash that out, I just have to spend it all (every other house got more expensive by an equal amount, and I have to live somewhere). And the new person who buys it now has to cover all that extra debt directly in their mortgage, they get soaked too!
Property values are not real wealth, it's not real money. It's fake. Coastal folks can treat it like it's real, because they can play markets against each other, they can depend on moving to some "low COL" area as their cash-out-to-real-money exit strategy. Those of us in low COL already (or who can't play markets, because they have to stay here for family/work reasons) don't have similar luck, the chain ends here, there's nowhere left to go.
> Presumably if someone did something like build a crack house and halved the value of your property you wouldn't thank them for halving your tax bill!
I would thank them, actually. Property should depreciate. It's the only way housing will ever get affordable for real humans again. I don't expect to get every dollar I paid for a house, back again. No one should.
> locals have interests that are almost always out of alignment with the rest of society.
Locals are the "rest of society". Locals don't all own property, half of our locals rent. Locals who own, still often have kids who need to buy houses, and they want them to be able to afford to live near them. The selfish behaviour seems to be coming entirely from developers or 'urbanists' who think if they just keep ignoring the ramifications of their actions, they can strongarm society into accepting forever-increasing housing costs. Why you paint "Locals" with that brush, when Locals carry every penny of those increased costs, I have no idea.
When you reduced the projected change in price to a more reasonable increase like 10% your argument about not being able to move to a lower col area becomes true because everything has gone up equally but it is hard to argue that the increase has greatly burdened your life to the point that people ought not be allowed to build on property they own.
For example locally if assessed value went from 200k to 220k my taxes would increase 16 per month. 400-450k would net me a cool $41 per month.
Looking at actually realistic figures makes it much harder to justify constraining housing supply which negatively effects all of society in order to optimize your tax bill.
It's not, at least in the us. In the past nine years, my house went from a real-world value of ~$90k (2012), to now being worth ~$240k (2021), despite wages being mostly flat. This is not uncommon, most homes in this or any nearby city have posted somewhat similar gains (plus or minus 10%). This property specifically, recorded it's highest jump ($40k over a single year) in the year after they built luxury apartments in the lot directly behind it.
And that's not a NYC / SF / Chicago / Seattle / Austin type hip place. It's just generic small-city Midwest nowheresville. A place with no restrictions on housing construction whatsoever, and has entire neighborhoods of new development in the past decade to prove it.
> If your 200k house for example went up to 600k you could in fact sell it and have a money fight with hundreds of thousands of dollars of real profit in your new living room
You are not getting it. No, I literally can not do that. If my house went from 200k to 600k, then every other house has also gone up a similar amount. If I sell my house to cash out, my family is homeless, I don't have a "new living room". And if I want a "new living room" to live in, I have to give every single dollar of that 600k back, for some new property at similar high prices. It's not real money, it's debt that I happen to be holding in my hands in paper form, and the future occupant of my house is now on the hook for.
Californians simply can not seem to wrap their head around this. They just assume the money is real, because "move to the south or the midwest" is always an option for them, so they can cash out and keep a bunch of it. Some of us already live in these places, and don't have a magic "high quality housing at cheaper-than-my-home-market rate" place to escape to.
> justify constraining housing supply
Literally no one is arguing to constrain housing supply. Blocking a shitty luxury development never constrains housing, it frees it to be used for real housing.
Fighting against Poisoned Milk sales is not "justifying constraining milk supplies". Fighting against cost-raising developments for private equity firms is not in any way "justifying less housing". You can want more housing and not want everyone's rent to spike, these are not in conflict in any way.
Whatever you discovered assigning all growth in your property value to that singular event is clearly erronious. As you mentioned all houses in urban areas have gone up substantially. If we assign 10% of that effect to adjacent luxury development we would conclude they had added 15k to your property value. Of course tax calculations vary by state but lets go with WA for a for instance.
It costs you about $12 a month if you save monthly towards your annual property tax. If we assign 20% to the presence of the luxury development which is almost certainly too much it cost you closer to $25 a month.
The truth is certainly underwhelming.
Yeah, it's absolutely disgusting.
I don’t know, having $100k+ more in equity than a couple years ago it acts like having an asset with real monetary value when I go to a bank looking for credit, having a big effect on both the amount of funds I have access to and the terms on which I can get them.
It’s not liquid like cash, so there is more work to take advantage of it, but its definitely real.
Surely you realize that's not how it works. If the appraisal value goes up, the only receiving any money is the government from their increased tax collection. The owner didn't receive a penny.
Artificially constraining expensive housing isn't a good thing. If the demand is there in the first place, doing so just means that the people who are interested will insteaad buy or rent existing homes that could have otherwise gone to lower-wealth families.
Again, this isn't California. This is the Midwest. We have gentrification problems even in cities that are still losing population. And we've never constrained housing, for our cities that are slowly growing, many have built more new units than residents for years now. Most cities have no meaningful housing shortage here, but every city currently has a housing market manipulation problem.
> If the demand is there in the first place, doing so just means that the people who are interested will insteaad buy or rent existing homes that could have otherwise gone to lower-wealth families.
Or you could just reduce demand. Perhaps Pension Funds shouldn't be allowed to buy housing at all. Make them invest in something that doesn't hurt citizens. That would reduce prices instantly, without requiring the construction of fake-unusable for-equity-firms-to-hold-only housing.
In what world does it make sense for real humans to have to compete with private equity firms or pension funds for housing? Real humans are constrained by their incomes (incomes that famously haven't grown in decades), everything else is not.
A realistic approach in the face of coming climate doom would be max 0.5, for the people that really need cars as primary transport due to disability etc.
Great, you manage to artificially limit parking. So the new housing development moves another 10 miles outside of town, to get away from your artificial limit, and now their mowing down a cornfield out there instead for their build, so they can get the parking residents actually need.
If cities want to be a solution to climate change, they have to let people actually live in them. That means, they have to care about the price points of developments (they can't just keep deflecting and saying "luxury housing lowers prices in 50+ years when it trickles down") and they have to care about supporting residents actual transportation needs. (they can't just hide behind "everyone will bike or whatever").
Everytime they deflect on either of those, another farm or forest gets razed instead.
Los Angeles is suffering from this. Towers and towers of expensive apartments left empty at 4000+/mo meanwhile the homeless population grows and the population on the border of homelessness grows.
Traffic increases as people move out of the city center and need to commute in and then those people are taxed through congestion charges or tolls and provided with no, or tremendously expensive, parking.
The whole effort seems to conspire against exactly what made the city a city. Dense, mixed zoned, mixed class living
They never do though. It’s always the poor neighborhoods close in that subsidize the rich people in the suburbs.
Digging a trench for that new pipe out in boonies over a dirt field can be done in an afternoon by one guy with a backhoe. Putting in the same length of pipe underground in Manhattan will probably take a decade and astronomical amount of money.
There is no additional infrastructure cost placed on cities. You are just plain wrong.
Many places are switching to parking maximums instead of minimums.
5 Acres is 2 Hectares, so that's about 25 houses per hectare. Typical new housing estates in the UK is about 25 hours per hectare, with minimum of 3 parking spaces (including a garage if given) for a 4 bed, and 2 for a 3 bed.
Even that number of spaces is too low - especially when one is a garage (which nobody uses to park their car)
If you require large amounts of parking everywhere and commensurately large roads, everything ends up so spread out that car based transportation seems like a necessity. It’s a self perpetuating cycle. If you don’t require so much land to be dedicated to cars you can build things denser and lower or even remove the need for personal cars.
I think one car per household is fine for townhomes assuming most are 2-3 bedrooms. A lot of families only need one car.
Although I will say, living in a neighborhood with very little parking, I am sure people who insist on owning a car anyway will think it’s a disaster too. But I love it because everything is close by and I can get around through a variety of non-car methods. But to get to that point takes time.
Any part of the US where a street of townhomes would be more dense than the existing status quo is not one of these areas.
It’s not that uncommon in the US, especially in poorer areas
That's in very dense urban cities. Given the numbers in question (low density 10 houses/acre) that's not going to be the case.
Sure, if they live near public transportation. I would vote down a dense housing development of it didn't have access to public transportation
Some people may only need limited parking. Some people may not need any parking. Maybe they're making a mistake and will regret it. Maybe not. Maybe nobody wants that, in which case the developer will pay the cost. Who cares! This is how freedom works. Can we please just stop ramming regulations down people's throats. "Well, no trust me. I'm from the zoning board and I know you're really gonna need two parking spots."
Imagine if we had a clothing board, and anytime a company came out with a new apparel style they had to get approval. "I just don't think anybody wants shorts that far above the knee. Permission denied". Just let the market decide, for God's sakes.
I am not saying we should stop doing everything that has externalities -- clearly we can't do that. It's just important to know that these transactions are not "between consenting adults" that dont affect others. Just because an owner of some land, some developers, and some perspective tenants agree on something doesn't mean it wont negatively affect a bunch of other people. And ignoring a bunch of other people entirely is not the correct choice.
Oh and stop low density housing like this being built in cities.
Certainly in the UK it's common for people to expect to own an extra 50 square foot of land for a car or two, usually abandoned to block the pavement. This impacts everyone, especially those of us who don't drive.
The fact is that we're in a housing affordability crisis. We need builders to build "cheapest thing they can" right now because housing is insanely expensive in most urban areas. Parking minimums make housing more expensive, and the fact that people are buying these homes is saying something important: housing is more important than parking.
Yes parking is nice, and there are costs associated with not having a dedicated parking space for each person. But those costs pale in comparison to the costs we pay for having a severe housing shortage. The economic costs, the costs paid in rents, the costs paid in health.
There isn't a world where you can have it all. But its clear that we need more housing, not more parking, and there is an unavoidable trade-off between the two.
Go for 35 per acre sure, you don't need 70 parking spaces then, because (assuming it isn't literally 35 units in the middle of suburbia) you get commercial and transit (people still got to get to work - maybe in WFH stays around that will change)
is it 1 car garage or literally, a garage with no driveway? if a link to a specific example was mentioned above in this thread i missed it
If you put a building with insufficient parking near there, users of that building are likely to park on the nearby streets and that reduces the utility of the street parking for the existing residents; either they may no longer be able to find parking readily, or they need to manage permits, etc.
It's different if you build in an area that already has tightly restricted parking. If you move into a downtown LA building without enough parking for your vehicles, you're not going to be able to find a free spot nearby and you won't reduce the utility of your neighbors.
This is certainly not my experience, unless you are counting on street parking and even then, that's a stretch
I'm only thinking of new developments
Given that almost always one of those is a garage which almost never has a car, reality is tons of on street parking (or rather on pavement parking)
Limited parking does incentivize non-car-oriented lifestyle. Im all for it.
No it doesn't, it incentivizes parking arguments and a tragedy of the commons, and creates people who will vote for policies that will convert public land into parking spaces.
I would prefer to reduce on street parking, and increase on street cycle lanes. It sounds like you would too.
By only providing 1 parking space per dwelling you end up with an increased demand for on street parking.
At this point it seems obvious to me that having windows open, everyone wearing masks, and everyone shutting up, is sufficient to make public transit safe. Because if it wasn’t Tokyo would be in a _much_ worse situation. I fully admit I don’t have rigorous data to back this up, but I kind of can’t see how it could be otherwise.
Singapore has high barriers to car ownership and has one of the lowest.
All else being equal, 6% of a higher price beats 6% of a lower price. But 6% of a lower price today in exchange for an hour of work beats $0 if the buyer walks and is not so easily replaced, and it might even beat 6% of a higher price if the higher price comes after many additional hours of work.
Over a long enough timeframe, the trend is toward higher prices, but it's not clear how much of a factor agents are in that, compared to many other factors.
I can't imagine agents would have much of an impact when compared to other causes of rising house prices. The way I see it, is that they are more of a kind of facilitator to increase the efficiency of the market, and don't have as much of a role in market behavior.
There is a half-open set of prices the seller will accept: (min..$\infty$]
If these sets do not intersect, there's no deal no matter what the agents do.
If the sets do intersect, the agents collude to ensure that the sale closes at the HIGHEST price in the intersection.
That is why realtors are such a big factor in the housing crisis. They collude to push all of the transactional surplus to the seller, because both agents work for the seller.
Listing prices are almost totally meaningless. At most they're just a starting point for initial negotiations.
Not sure if you have no experience in real state at all, or just want to play devil’s advocate.
The listing price can have a huge effect. Like I described before, if the listing price is lower than the perceived value of the listing, it makes it attractive to a wider audience, because people that wouldn’t be able to afford the property at the “real” price will think they can now afford it, thus there will be a lot more offers and that gives the realtors (and seller) very good leverage. This happened to me personally, on “the first round” the seller got 40 offers, so the agent used that to pump up the price and make it look like there was a lot of interest (surely there was, but for an unrealistically low price). There were only 3 offers on the “second round”. After 3-4 rounds, the property ended up going for 20%+ over asking and the buyer had to waive all contingencies. Without the artificially low listing price, they would have probably gotten one or two offers at the most and most likely would have not been able to get the buyer to waive contingencies.
Conversely, if the listing price is too high, the property might take a long time to sell, and lowering the price signals that the seller is either in a hurry or that there’s an issue with the property, either way the seller loses a lot of negotiating power.
First, yes, Redfin agents don't get commissions the way traditional real estates agents get commissions. However, Redfin agents do still want to close as many deals as possible. Also, while real estate agents have a tough job finding good leads (especially given that leads don't exactly keep buying property) Redfin agents do not have a tough time finding leads (they have one phenomenal website that just gives them constant leads). What it results in is that a good traditional agent will put in a lot more work to find an appropriate place for you, because not only do they rely on you buying through them, but more importantly, they rely on you being happy enough that you recommend them to other people.
Redfin does not need your recommendations, as they've got a line out the door. So if anything starts getting difficult with your purchase, Redfin has no incentive to stick around and figure it out.
I've bought three properties and made an offer that fell through on one, and looked around other times. I've tried both traditional agents and a Redfin agent, and will never again work with Redfin.
I think in situations where the property doesn’t have any issues, where you’re just going in to buy a place, they can work out fine. Unfortunately you have no idea what kind of place you’re looking at until you’re trying to buy it.
Every worthwhile agent will have a ton of useful information before and after you purchase.
I sold a house just before the pandemic struck. The realtor I chose, via a friend-of-friend connection, operated several agencies each with several agents; I would guess he had a few dozen people total working under him.
One thing quickly became apparent as we moved through the various processes involved in selling a home – he had his agencies and his agents optimize for volume. In the regions of CA where he operated, "throughput" was definitely not an issue, and so deliberately pricing homes low would cause them to sell faster and allow him / his agents to move onto the next client faster. Given the context, it seems clear to me this would yield more over the long term than fighting tooth and nail to drag out individual transactions to eke out every possible penny.
I caught onto this just before officially listing my house, and insisted we increase the asking price (recommended by him / his team) by 10% – a move he / his team objected to rather frankly. Nonetheless, the sale was completed within 6 weeks or so, at my asking price.
(And seems worth adding he never said thank you for the 10% [relative] extra he earned on the commission)
This makes me hopping mad. On what crazy world can they be considered the "buyer's" agent when their incentives are exactly opposite to those of the buyer?
It's like if defense attorneys were expected to argue for the prosecution, and everybody was okay with this.
Yeah, I really wish we normalized fee-for-service for buyer's agents. Agree on a fair hourly rate for their time, plus some constant fee for actually closing. The agent can have more consistent income over time, and the buyer can know that the agent's incentives are not misaligned. Buyers at the lower end of the market also don't get lesser attention.
But I think because we have normalized the commission structure, there's now also a bias effect, where the agents who are most willing to agree to a fee-for-service arrangement are the agents who are least successful/satisfied under the commission model.
Build 1-10 million 400 sq-ft studio apartments will solve the housing price problem.
Existing inventory can cover families.
The price of condos in San Francisco dropped 10% with COVID-19. The prices in the Tahoe area are up about 20 - 30% over the past 12 months.
The demand moved to single family homes, because people wanted a yard, when they were locked down at home, with few things open.
Now that California and San Francisco is opening back up, the real estate demand is coming back, as are the prices. Yes, speculation and investment is part of the story. But also a lot of people made a lot of money in the stock merket over the past 12 months, and are looking to upgrade their housing.
Repeat business is a good motivator. We were happy with the realtor after our first purchase, used them to sell that property and again, in our second search and then recommended them to friends who made purchases. The marginal income they could have gotten by pushing us to a higher price are dwarfed by their combined earnings.
Those agents work on volume, so if you think they're pushing you to not get the lowest price, it's so they can close the deal, not because their incentives aren't aligned with yours. If they're telling you to offer more, it's because they have better knowledge of the market and the game than you.
They're banking on many commissions a month, not on the fractional share of that extra $10k you don't want to fork over.
Except: 1) most people will only buy a property once, so there’s very little potential downside for the agent, and 2) is not about screwing the buyer over, is about driving the whole market higher so they can keep pumping their commissions up and convincing more owners to sell. The latter is specially easy to do in smaller cities/communities served only by a small number of local realtors.
There’s plenty of people trying to game almost any valuable market in the world. You don’t think at least some realtors (of course not all of them) are trying to do the same? Specially when most of the buyers and sellers are in it for just one transaction in their whole lives, and there’s so much money involved?
Think of it as the prisoners dilemma. If you play once, the optimal is to screw over the other player. That’s what realtors are facing 90% of the time, a sequence of one-time prisoners dilemmas. Except if they do it right, they get to increase the value of the outcomes over time.
Agents do get repeat and referral business if they don't suck; the agent we use has been involved in several sales and a purchase for our extended family in a few years, and we've referred other people to her, too.
> Specially when most of the buyers and sellers are in it for just one transaction in their whole lives,
The median person who buys a home at least once buys significantly more than one in their lifetime (the lowest estimate I’ve seen is around 3, 5+ seems more common), “first-time” homebuyers (which are just people who haven't owned and occupied a home in the last three years, not people who have never owned a previous home) only make up about third of homebuyers.
Great, so you are wealthy and have wealthy friends and family. Cool. That still doesn’t mean agents are not trying to get prices up.
Your experience could mean that your agent noticed you had money and decided it would be in her best interest to treat you well.
You got me about how many times someone buys property. I looked it up and it seems like “most people can expect to own three homes during their lifetimes”. So, let’s say you buy your first home at 30 and die at 81, and own each house for the same time, then you’ll buy a new house every (81-30)/3 = 17 years. It’s very hard for me to believe that an agent will try to get someone a lower price just so they can work with them again 17 years later.
Also, given rising housing prices and the state of overall student debt/rising costs of education, I would bet that the average number of houses someone buys/owns in a lifetime is going to drastically go down in the next few decades (thus reducing even further the possibility of an agent of getting repeat business from a single client, unless maybe they are as wealthy as you and your friends and family).
Relative to HN, probably not; globally, definitely, for California...that’s sort of a fuzzy matter of perspective (probably not for a California homeowner), but, eh, whatever. Not the point. My point is that satisfaction is not completely irrelevant for agents.
> That still doesn’t mean agents are not trying to get prices up.
Maybe, though even if they aren't hoping for repeat or referral business the incentives are more for agents to close deals as rapidly as possible; most buyers are going to be looking near the limit of what they can afford anyway, a buyer's agent trying to push them higher is just going to make the process slower. A seller's agent wanting to maximize price would actually be acting in their principal’s interest, but even on the seller side the incentive is to get a deal and close rather than drag things out for a little bump; spending twice the work for a an extra 10% on thr sale price (and thus commission) isn’t a winning move even though it may be what the seller would want.
> Also, given rising housing prices and the state of overall student debt/rising costs of education, I would bet that the average number of houses someone buys/owns in a lifetime is going to drastically go down in the next few decades
The sources I’ve seen have shown it going up recently (increasing economic inequality and buy/rent price ratio should probably have that effect by cutting some of the people that would buy the fewest houses entirely out of homeownership.)
- Most American households own their home.
- Homeowners vote at substantially higher rates than renters.
- Home equity is one of the largest components of American wealth (roughly equal with retirement accounts).
Taken together it's difficult to see how home values will be allowed to fall.
If you allow increased density, and you use it to provide actually valuable homes (rather than studio/one/two bed apartments or the like mostly intended as a store of wealth), then land value can go up while unit value goes down.
This means people joining the market can buy for a couple of years salary, while people already in the market can exit and downsize for a decade's salary.
Do you have a reference for that? I'm interested to see how it breaks down. I have to assume this is true because of America's aging population.
A portfolio of several thousand Prop 13 jackpots is a pretty good situation to be in.
It should be that each additional house after the first has a tax penalty that increases on a logarithmic scale to make it financially unsavory for people to own more than one house. In an ideal world, owning multiple homes would be an ostentatious display of wealth and not a common investment vehicle.
I know Californians are sickened by the idea that taxes could go up when the house you live in is worth more but this happens all over the world and it's honestly just fine.
Congress absolutely needs to do something about this.
I’m pretty sure you’re not sticking it to investors if you support development.
You might be sticking it to different investors.
So yes, it's sticking it to different investors. But that's a good thing! Stick it to the investors for whom "investment" means pushing dollars around, rather than the ones for whom investment means construction.
Otherwise people can only invest things they're ready to run themselves basically forever. This would destroy the economy.
Incentivize the investors creating and selling something of value.
Developers aren't passive asset investors, they ... you know ... actually create things.
When that happens there will be nothing keeping the prices of individual housing units in these areas up.
It's like the American opposition to pedestrianization of blocks. Pedestrianized blocks increase local business footfall and increase high margin economic activity.
New developments in your community increase value of your home, far better than restricting development.
The value of your home doesn't only depend on the fact that it's in a rich neighborhood with beautiful lawns, but the services and proximity to said services.
NYC is desireable, not because it's a big city... but because you can get services there. Take away the services - you take away all of the value proposition.
But then by same token we can also move to justifying other things, like not hiring people without CS degrees (I spent $xxx,xxx on my CS degree, I want to protect its value), only hiring other MBAs, only hiring people with prior experience in tech companies etc. – which can perpetuate and amplify inequality in opportunity among society.
At what point do we move from that to a more altruistic viewpoint? I am genuinely not sure.
Is the problem "losing value in my house" or "not realizing astronomical gains like my peers"? And if building much-needed housing does decrease your house's value then hey, maybe your house was overvalued at the price you paid and you made a bad 'investment'. Why punish everyone else and artificially strangle housing supply to cover your bad decision?
If it means try to use the heavy hand of the state to prevent others from living their best life, then you aren't protecting anything; you're violently stealing the future net worth of others and making it your own.
Markets also go downhill. If you really went all out with paying for it, you also need to hope that your employment will remain stable. People who are very comfortable with their job and predict no downsides are often the ones getting bitten when the market changes, as it always does.
The capitalistic attitude in a nutshell.
This is what's called a win-win.
I guess you could get both perspectives behind a Georgism type land value tax.
Development increases the value of land in the long run, that's nearly tautological; investors in land will benefit from this increase just like the developers themselves do. I think there's a high likelihood that the markets for "home with land" and "condo" diverge further in the future. Increased demand and density only increases the scarcity of single family homes with actual plots of land in popular areas.
There are a lot of vacant/under-utilized properties, especially ones zoned commercial, next to high-demand residential areas in my town. The owners seem to be just sitting on the property and waiting, vs actually fully making use of it currently.
I'd go a step further: why are we arguing about single-family homes when we have homeless people camped out around unused commercial and industrial properties? That's the property that's being wasted and could most-easily be re-utilized. If you have continual high demand it will be difficult to add supply fast enough once you run out of empty surrounding land (that's the biggest difference between the big coastal cities and the Phoenix/Dallas/Atlantas of the world) because it requires demolition and higher-density construction), but at the very least if you're in that situation, attack the empty areas harder!
(Whether or not there's ANY good sustainable long-term solution for perpetual demand growth is another question entirely...)
Is it necessary to artificially editorialize when you’re making what is, at its root, a thinly veiled socio-political point?
Artificial in the sense of "caused or produced by a human and especially social or political agency" (see https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artificial).
When prices of something get higher, people naturally try to make more of it to increase supply and cash in on that demand. If a law or zoning regulation or whatever prevents that from happening, that's artificial.
It's not really a statement about whether those laws or regulations are better overall. It's a comparison to other types of investment alternatives which follow the normal laws of supply and demand and have the (lower) earnings to go along with it.
Look at the map of LA, where there's miles upon miles of low rise buildings... That need not be there, if a few high density blocks were created.
Or the insanity of San Francisco...
But if the idea is just "let the developers build where they want and that solves everything", that idea is wrong. Developers don't want to build the dense, affordable house that's needed. Developers want to take advantage of the existing housing and housing expectation and build one bigger house or bigger development one ring out among the suburbs.
What's needed is dense construction near to cities and regulations to support that. And "Yimby" and so forth aren't supporting no regulations, they're supporting pure developer friendly regulations, which won't do anything but give them a piece of the present perverse "gold rush".
...until your neighbors are all renters, at which point the tide turns?
Perhaps we need better protections around dealing with insufferable neighbors and other neighborhood changes’ negative impacts, and people will object less?
Even in the biggest cities, apartment buildings often have board that approve sales and/or new residents.
And then the same middle-class (mostly white, with some Asian mix on the West Coast) plays the "revolt game" of supporting the Afro-American and Latino US population, blaming the latter's condition only on racism, totally ignoring the class war now unfolding in the States of which they (said middle-class) are the "baddies" part. Absolutely appalling.
Housing supply cannot, and never could fix the problem. There is no city or country in the world where this has ever succeeded.
The house prices are rising because of increasing financialisation of our economy, cheap credit and low interest rates.
700,000 people left London during pandemic, put prices keep rising.
If we offered 300 year long mortgages that get passed on to your next of kin, house prices would quadruple overnight. The price of a house has no relationship to it's utility, like it does for all other goods. You know you will always be able to sell it for more to the bext sucker.
True, financialisation is a factor, combating that must be part of the solution.
Housing scarcity is real, whether you believe it or not.
Those were overwhelmingly tiny/cheap/low-quality/investor-bought apartments, but the fact is they were still there.
i.e. if your locality has additional issues, the solution is to fix them. Don't use them as excuses to build less housing for folks that need it.
I see the church of free market is strong here.
Open an article by an actual economist, not a political pundit. They know for a fact you can't build your way out of the housing bubble.
The Yimbies supported Mayor Breed. She hasn't changed the political problems in SF that you're (for the most part, accurately) diagnosing here.
The problem with most anti-activist government screeds like this is that they lack the same nuance and sophistication they would bring to, for example, commenting on a market analysis. I'm almost certain your position here is "end zoning." I'm fine with that. But it takes way more than shit posting, and the people who believe what you do are literally at the top of the city's government in San Francisco, and nothing has changed.
You need a better understanding of politics and a sharper theory of change. Just applying your own premise to this comment, investors are actually relying on people like YOU failing to learn more about politics and failing to understand how to better communicate about politics. YOU are part of the problem, not above it.
It takes a lot more than being 'highly online' and YIMBY groups are doing that work.
But you just keep pushing where you can.
All you have done is said the person you are replying to is an idiot for YIMBY but the only argument is that they support Breed. That’s definitely part of the problem but in SF the board of supervisors also hold a lot of power and those are more important. Also, Breed is supported as a least-worst candidate.
>All you have done is said the person you are replying to is an idiot for YIMBY but the only argument is that they support Breed.
That's not all I've said. Read slower.
I'm done here. Feel free to defend bad activism or advance whatever incorrect semantic interpretation you have of our exchange.
What's needed is a mainstream, national name-n'-shame strategy that identifies specific officials and offices that are causing the block in housing. Make the target highly specific and concrete, and ensure the messaging is big tent -- don't make it anti-municipal government. Make it anti-zoning.
It's a waste of political bandwidth that most Americans know the name of at least one random House Rep that represents their partisan opponent either because Fox News or MSNBC, but none of us has any idea about the bureaucrats who are making terrible anti-housing policy decisions every day and driving up the cost of owning shelter.
Read this article and tell me how the amount of pro-YIMBY energy hasn't yet turned this into a major, populist outcry against specific people and specific government agencies: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/place/article/The-quest-...
What you call "anti-housing" others call "pro-stability."