I sense that a bit of the blogosphere is warming up to the idea that there are not enough homes in America, but now they are saying: we have the wrong kind of homes. They admit there are not enough apartments in NYC but think that the rest of America is flush with homes.
This would make a lot of sense if you have a core belief that urbanism is the future and that the big cities are set to boom even bigger. For my money urbanism is a potential future but I am starting to take the possibility of radical ex-urbanism more seriously.
Nonetheless, getting into the weeds of “which are the right types of homes” is too much for me to do when I am in forecasting mode. Its enough to just try and read the trends and see which ones match up. Trying to forecast where people will want to live and what types of urban arrangements the market will reward is like throwing bones – that is to say pure blogging.
Right now I am in forecasting mode, and I want to reiterate that whatever you might think about the distribution of new homes, the total amount of units coming online was more about a shift away from mulit-family and manufactured homes towards single family homes than about an unsustainable increase in the total number of homes.
As always Calculated Risk has great charts
Even as the US added millions of new residents over the last decade, mutli-family construction stalled before falling off a cliff and manufactured homes have been on a steady downward trend.
Population growth was matched – and mildly exceeded – by growth in single family homes. Now that single family has fallen of a cliff as well, we simply are not producing homes at the rate we are adding people.
Unless living patterns shift dramatically, something has to give. That means a ramp up in construction. The longer home building is suppressed the larger the imbalance will become.