Latest data shows you can’t bring prices down by building more housing

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

When prices soften, developers stop building. So that plan isn’t going to work.

A Dec. 29 story by the Chron’s real-estate reporter, J.K. Dineen, who knows the market as well as anyone in town, shows exactly why the Yimby agenda will never work in San Francisco. The story dropped in the middle of the week when news readership is the lowest of the year, so I’m not sure how many policymakers saw it. But it has critical information about the way housing markets really work.

To wit: Developers now think that the market for condos and apartments is “softening” – that is, it’s not rising as fast as it used to – so they aren’t planning to build any more, except at the very high end.

In other words, you can’t bring down housing costs by removing barriers to more market-rate housing – because as soon as those costs come down, the developers (and more important, the speculative investors who finance them) put their money somewhere else…

“Everything that is going forward is falling above the $2,000 (per square foot) price point,” Garber said. Projects with a projected price of $1,300 or $1,400 per square foot are not worth it to developers, he said. “In the short term, we are not going to see a lot of those delivered.”(more)

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