Green Regulations Have Made Housing SO Expensive

Green Regulations Have Made Housing SO Expensive, by Joel Kotkin.

Between 1981 and 2016, property ownership rates among 25 to 34 year-olds in Australia — a country with a strong tradition of middle- and working-class home ownership — fell from more than 60 percent to 45 percent.

This is not, as some suggest, the result of a lack of developable land. Even in the relatively crowded United Kingdom, only six percent of the land is urbanized, while barely three percent of the US and 2.1 percent in Canada is urbanized. It’s less than 0.3 percent of Australia.

Big government has forced prices way, way up:

So why has home ownership fallen? Largely due to regulations … In all these places, the main culprit has been “smart growth,” a notion that encourages the reluctant to move closer to dense urban cores and give up the dream of owning a home. …

Even Adelaide, an isolated and declining industrial hub, has higher prices based on income than Seattle, one of the world’s most dynamic tech hubs. …

In Sydney, planning regulations, according to a recent Reserve Bank study, now add 55 percent to the price of a home. In Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane the impact is also well over $100,000 per house. Australian cities once filled with family-friendly neighborhoods are now dominated by dense apartments.

And guess who did this to us?

These policies are widely supported among planners, academics, and the media; in virtually all countries, the cognitive elites congregate in elite urban centres.

Indeed, when I produced data at a recent convention demonstrating that most Australians are continuing to move to the periphery, even in New South Wales, the moderator, [ABC] commentator Ali Moore, described much of suburbia as “the wastelands.” This led one attendee to wonder “what country” she inhabited, given that 80 percent of all Australians live in suburbs, with more than four-fifths of families preferring to live in single family homes.

Historically, opposition to suburban lifestyles was based largely on aesthetic, social, or even economic considerations. Today, opponents are preoccupied with “green” and “sustainability” concerns.

The environmental magazine Grist envisioned “a hero generation” that will escape the material trap of suburban living and work that engulfed their parents. One magazine editor proudly declared herself to be a part of the GINK generation (as in “green inclinations, no kids”) which not only afforded her a relatively care-free and low-cost adult life, but also “a lot of green good that comes from bringing fewer beings onto a polluted and crowded planet.

This view is widely shared by both the oligarchy and the upper echelons of the planning clerisy. Like their medieval counterparts, they wish to see a more “ordered” planet, but in ways that do not threaten their own power or quality of life. Those at the top of class pyramid can purchase “indulgences” for their consumption by investing in forests, driving electric cars, solarizing their homes, while their wealth allows them to purchase expensive inner-city flats.    

This meme is applauded by publications like the Australian Financial Review, which insist that millennials do not want to live in suburbia. This is largely specious. In survey after survey, most millennials, in the United States and elsewhere, hope to buy a single-family house.