Following on Neil Irwin's recent article in the New York Times' Upshot about the stagnant real estate market, Matthew Yglesias examines data about how strict regulation of the housing market is contributing to the sluggish market.
To explain "why housing is so depressed," Yglesias believes that Irwin neglects to mention zoning while discussing household formation and the mortgage market:
"The reason residential construction is so depressed nationally is that most of the markets with strong housing demand make it extremely difficult, as a regulatory matter, to add additional housing units."
Moreover: "If it's profitable to build this many houses in Houston, it should be profitable to build even more houses in San Francisco — San Francisco is richer, San Francisco has more expensive housing, and San Francisco has better weather. But San Francisco isn't growing as fast as Houston. It's not even close. That's the power of regulation. Not just in the city, but in the surrounding suburbs. Not just in the Bay Area but in liberal metro areas on both coasts."