The unusual volatility of the housing market over the past few years has left many planners and members of the media focused on "extremes," says Kotkin, with ultra high-end properties and concentrations of exurban foreclosures dominating the conversation. Instead, he argues, planners should focus on how to make home ownership more affordable.
Kotkin argues that high home prices do not necessarily signal the "attractiveness" of a region, as some urbanists posit, but are more often the result of overly stringent regulations like smart growth policies. As a result, he writes, many college-educated people are leaving "overpriced" markets like New York and Los Angeles for more affordable cities in the South, such as Houston and Austin.
"How could this be, if everyone with an above-a-room-temperature IQ supposedly favors hip, cool, dense cities? Perhaps it's because of factors often too small or mundane for urban pundits to acknowledge. Most people, particularly as they enter their 30s, aspire to a middle-class lifestyle - and being able to afford a house constitutes a large part of that."