Must-read: Matthew Yglesias: “Seattle Shows San Francisco and New York How to Fix the Housing Crisis”

Must-Read: Matthew Yglesias: Seattle Shows San Francisco and New York How to Fix the Housing Crisis: “As California’s Legislative Analysis Office wrote…

…Washington state centraliz[es] more planning functions at the state level…. Skeptics often note that new construction tends to target the high end of the market…. And that’s true here. Stiles reports that the weakness in the market is at the high end, “where 5.4 percent of the units are vacant,” while cheaper rentals feature a lower vacancy rate. But these markets are all logically linked. As proprietors of luxury buildings begin to lower rents in response to high vacancy rates, some people currently in mid-market housing will take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade. That puts downward price pressure on the middle of the market and draws more people further up the chain. None of this exactly makes Seattle a cheap place to live–land is still more expensive there than it is in Atlanta, and multi-family apartment buildings are often more expensive to build than sprawling single-family homes. But a high level of construction ensures that the homeland of Microsoft and Amazon remains substantially cheaper than the Bay Area homeland of Apple and Google.

December 23, 2015


Brad DeLong
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