Millionaires Will Eat San Francisco Only if NIMBYs Keep Starving It

Millionaires Will Eat San Francisco Only if NIMBYs Keep Starving It

Imagine a doctor who can accurately predict the consequences of an ailment you have, but won’t give you the diagnosis or tell you the treatment. To do this would be irresponsible in the context of medicine.

By the same token, when covering a story as important as the housing affordability crisis, it is, to some degree, negligent to discuss a consequence of the affordability crisis without mentioning a cure or the cause. But this is the general approach taken by Nellie Bowles in The New York Times:

In 2018 there were 5,644 properties sold in San Francisco and only 2,208 of those were single family homes. Software employees represent more than 50 percent of those buying, according to Compass. One real estate firm estimates an average one-bedroom in the city now rents for $3,690 per month. (Another firm puts that average at $3,551.)

“Now you’ve got all these I.P.O.s at the same time, and we’ll potentially have thousands of young people, all now with money, looking to buy homes,” said Shane Ray, a real estate agent. “You’ll be able to feel it.”

Those in the market for a house are trying to buy them fast while the inventory shrinks but before the wave hits. [Emphasis added]

This last line is rather telling–it treats the housing market as a zero-sum game rather than one that has been rigged by artificially restricting supply growth.

In fairness, the article doesn’t make any explicit policy proposals, though it does make a nod to the Democratic Socialist opponents of these new billionaire buyers (YIMBY activists, on the other hand, don’t make an appearance).

The tone of the article is clear: the new tech millionaires are the problem that must be addressed. This is simply inaccurate–the affordability crisis is a supply-side problem that won’t be fixed by railing against millionaires who will be able to afford the precious little housing available in San Francisco.

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By |2019-03-20T10:47:24-07:00March 20th, 2019|Blog, Land Use Regulation|