Monday, August 5, 2019

Part 11 of my housing affordability series at Mercatus

Low Property Taxes and Obstructed Housing Supply Are a Bad Mix
"It would seem that raising property taxes would make housing more expensive.  They are, effectively, a tax on materials to build homes.  But the binding constraint to affordable and reasonable housing in twenty-first century America isn’t material.  It isn’t a lack of affordable physical space.  It is the political obstruction to placing those materials in dense urban centers."

With a universal expected market return, lower property taxes and just a small expectation of persistently rising rents can lead to much higher housing prices.  That's the first order effect.  But, as a second order effect, the value of homes as assets that are speculative claims on local political cartels, might mean that lower property taxes will be associated with higher rents.  It seems that higher property taxes might lead to lower quantity demanded, but also lower supply, with a net effect of less housing at higher cost, with cartel real estate owners pocketing the profits.  The political implications of that might change when the oligopolists would otherwise have been middle class pensioner grandparents, but the economic implications don't.


  1. Great post.

    OT--- if you read a little bit into the Hong Kong protest stories, you find out that a dissatisfaction with wage stagnation and housing prices is playing a role in the disturbances.

    Orthodox macroeconomists have not been useful in recent decades in resolving, or even identifying,the key problems that face Western economies.

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