A recent upward spiral in house prices has led to an affordability crisis in many cities. Until recently, most observers have explained this surge by demand factors—excessive speculation or just a desire to live in certain favored locations. However, a strong case can be made that growth management and other land use regulations have been a major contributor to unaffordability because of their role in rationing land for building. The author argues that this may be part of a vast and largely unacknowledged transfer of wealth from renters, young people, low-income families and future generations to an “incumbents’ club” of existing homeowners.
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