Knocking down houses in order to save the village

In my post on 18 September, “A vital but widely misunderstood aspect of our financial crisis“, I made a radical proposal:

Here is one way the government can fix the housing crisis: buy and destroy homes. The government did this with food during the Depression, to help farmers by increasing food prices. That was tough on food consumers, just as destroying houses would increase living costs.

The reaction in the comments ranged from incredulous to strong opposition.  “Misguided” was the mildest comment.

A month later this proposal no longer looks so radical.  Last week economist David Rosenberg said:

If the name of the game is to finally put an end to the deflationary spiral in residential real estate, there will have to be supply-side solutions.  Some folks have talked about eh government ring-fencing the one million excess homes and condos that are vacant and for sale across the country that remain the culprit behind this lingering house price contraction, adn then bulldoze these units.

Nor was I the first to suggest this.  Holman W. Jenkins did so in “The Radical Solution“, posted 2 April 2008 in the Wall Street Journal.  Excerpt:

We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there. Ben Bernanke so far has been financing the Fed’s bailouts of investment banks and their hedge fund clients with real assets, not inflationary play money. But political pressure continues to build for more toxic medicine.

No wonder economists of diverse ideological stripe are lining up behind a taxpayer bailout of homeowners and lenders, fearing the alternative is a global inflation crisis. But another option has hardly been considered in Washington, though it’s old hat in the sticks: Using tax dollars to buy and demolish foreclosed, unoccupied or half-built houses in selected markets.

This isn’t as wild-eyed as it sounds. Ben Bernanke pointed out in a footnote to a recent speech that such programs already are at work in the Midwest. “In highly depressed housing markets, the worst-quality units are often demolished to mitigate safety hazards and reduce supply.”

Baltimore has been praised for efforts to keep borrowers in their homes, but little mentioned is a program of demolition of foreclosed homes. Cleveland spends $6 million a year to demolish buildings. Dayton plans to demolish 550 this year. Only a small mental adjustment is required to begin aiming these bulldozers at “new” homes too. Get over it.

Knocking down surplus homes would be the most efficient and equitable way to spend taxpayer dollars. It can proceed experimentally. It can be turned off quickly when the need evaporates. It would not be a lesson to Americans that housing debt is not real debt and need not be repaid. It wouldn’t benefit the most irresponsible lenders and borrowers at the expense of responsible ones. The housing market would still have to hit bottom, but the bottom would be higher (and sooner).

Have no illusions about the alternative being fashioned in Congress. Behind the fig leaves that will be frantically waving, a lending bailout would be effective in stemming foreclosures and propping up home prices only if taxpayer money were used to put speculators’ housing bets back “in the money.”

… Let’s get real. So much of the subprime-financed overbuilding was concentrated in four states – California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona – that the Mortgage Bankers Association, which collects the numbers, says they “skew the national data.” Parts of Florida now have an 80-month surplus of condo inventory.

… This supply overhang in a few key states, in turn, poisons the market for undifferentiated securitized mortgage debt, which has been the source of persistent instability in global credit markets.

Most of all, a demolition strategy would not add to the policy screwups that are a major but little mentioned contributor to the current troubles – the massive, relentless subsidies that Washington dishes out to rich and poor alike as a reward for incurring housing debt.

… We will survive today’s crisis even without heroic action from Washington to refloat the housing market. Worse than no solution, though, would be one that greatly increases the subsidy to risk-taking already in the system.

Afterword

If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp interest these days:

Key posts about the financial crisis

  1. A solution to our financial crisis, 25 September 2008
  2. A picture of the post-WWII debt supercycle, 26 September 2008
  3. America has changed. Why do so many foreigners see this, but so few Americans?, 1 October 2008
  4. A sitrep on the financial crisis: why has the treatment been so slow, so small?, 8 October 2008
  5. The new President will need new solutions for the economic crisis, 9 October 2008
  6. Forecasting the results of this financial crisis – part I, about politics, 13 October 2008
  7. Forecasting the results of this financial crisis – part II, a new economy for America, 14 October 2008

27 thoughts on “Knocking down houses in order to save the village

  1. Not a bad idea. If done in conjunction with infrastructure spending on mass transit and renewable energy it can put America on a path to sustainable living. The priority would be to prioritize the “unbuilding”. First those excess homes in suburbs far from urban cores (convert to farmland). Then Mcmansions in cities, to be replaced by small apartments clustered around bus and train stations.

    James Howard Kunstler would love the plan. It would put a lot of unemployed homebuilders and mortgage brokers to work in something socially useful.

  2. After the bulldozers, what would the government do with the land under those houses?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Nature preserves? Wildlife santuaries? Sell it back to private owners? Is there only one solution?

    For suburbs at a distance from cities, perhaps avoid re-building in order to increase population density and hence energy efficiency. Turn these into giant parks ringing the urban cores.

  3. During the depression, people starved to death as food was being destroyed.

    The irony that this crisis occurred because of misguided attempts to ‘provide affordable housing and the American dream for everyone’ will be hard to overlook as people freeze to death and the government destroys homes.

    This is a ridiculous solution to a ridiculous problem caused by ridiculous policy in a ridiculous system.

    In addition, wouldn’t the Panic of 1873 and the ‘Long Depression’ be a better specific analogy than the 1930s depression?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: A lot of material in your brief comment!

    Do you have any references to deaths by starvation during the 1930’s? I have wondered about that, but never seen any.

    Also, what is the basis for forecasting that the government will let people “freeze to death”? Some homeless do so, despite the local social services people (government and ngo), but few of these have “homelessness” are their primary problem. As has been well-documented, the majority have serious mental problems or addictions (or both, as they are distinct problems which can overlap).

    We are looking at nothing remotely like the 1930’s (GDP down 1/2), despite much overheated rhetoric. I doubt we will even have a depression (GDP down over 10%).

    It is difficult to estimate the GDP declines of 19th century economic cycles. And structurally our economy looks nothing like, for example, 1873 America. Agriculture as the largest sector, operating on a gold standard — to mention just two of the many big differences.

    More generally, this downturn might not resemble any previous event in US history. As above, nothing pre-WWI. Nothing post-WWI, not the 1930’s nor the many Fed-induced downturns (sprarked by Fed rate increases to control inflation).

  4. Never in the history of human ridiculousness, has so many ridiculous things been done to so many people, by such a ridiculous few.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I disagree. History is filled with large-scale absurdity, if not insanity, by leaders inflicted on their subjects.

  5. There are two parts to this:
    1) the gov’t buys houses — excellent (so why have you mocked me suggesting this in past comments?).
    2) the gov’t tears down the bought houses.
    Occassionally OK, but mostly much weaker than other alternatives: provide them ‘at cost’ to non-profits; rent or sell them at a discount to returning veterans; allow folks with equity or who had put downpayments into other houses to ‘trade’ houses, provide these houses as rentable houses for low income folk who can pay the rent.

    There should be penalties for builders building more houses in counties where there are foreclosures. And various other special bonus programs to help responsible buy more house, if they can afford it now.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: (1) THis is a crazy idea, much in the spirit of Swift’s “A modest proposal.” That people think it same shows how unhingled our economics thinking has become. It has become voodoo.

    (2) As I explained here, one aspect of the financial crisis (no longer even among the top 3 problems) is the surplus of housing units. The methods you mention to shuffle around their ownership do little to change this (e.g., moving people from a rental to their own home).

    Done on a large enough scale, giving houses away might cause social unrest among those who have saved and worked so hard for their own home. This latter factor is largely ignored by economic quacks, and might prove politically significant in the future.

    (3) Excess homes will be destroyed by “natural” economic foreces when appropriate, as has happened before (e.g., in the South Bronx due to NY City’s nutty rent control system).

  6. If we are into far-fetched solutions, how about this:

    One of the great challenges facing today’s military is urban warfare. Rather than buying up foreclosed real estate piecemeal, the government instead should condemn an entire city. How about Milwaukee? The military could then use the former Milwaukee for urban warfare war games.

    The displaced Milwaukeans, compensated with eminent domain dollars, would go elsewhere where they would generate demand for real estate.

  7. This is a good idea — tear down the surplus homes and put large garden plots and/or greenspace (parks, etc) in place of them so that people in the neighborhood will have a place or places to congregate and socialize.

  8. Why not use these surplus houses to incarcerate and punish those who default on their mortgages?

    Or perhaps they could be used to torture terror suspects?

    Somehow, i suspect that this idea did not come from the same man who said, “People, ideas, hardware … in that order!”
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I was channeling Jonathon Swift. The connection was poor, but he said he had a modest proposal…

  9. Why don’t we simply put these houses into storage? Our population is growing so that eventually this housing stock will be needed. We just don’t give our credit except FOR purchasing the existing housing supply. No new housing. Makes more sense than destroying them.

  10. I confess that the evidence for starvation during the great depression that I’ve seen is mostly anecdotal, and possibly overblown; and while the proportion of American homeless who are mentally damaged is significant, homelessness is a reality for many people who are not mentally ill, and who are actively trying to better their station in life.

    If a policy of destroying ‘surplus’ housing units is adopted by the largely inefficient and stupid federal government, I do not think that it is a difficult stretch of the imagination to predict that the process will be incompetent, corrupt, and lead directly to expansion of government power and human suffering.

    Truthfully, the America of today is not the America of 1873, but you’ve stated in your earlier posts that the likely outcome of the current crisis is more likely to resemble something from the late 1800s than the great depression. I am far from a scholar of these events, but I chose 1873 because it had the following characteristics: overbuilding (railroads), failure of international banking system through overlending (in Europe instead of the US), a rising industrial power (the US, instead of China), infrastructure destruction (from fire, ours is simply poorly maintained), and equine flu (which devastated transportation worse than the most bleak peak oil projections). It led directly to the ‘Long Depression’ (about I can find little literature), and eventually contributed to the transfer of international economic power from Europe to the US and the Gilded Age. I suspect that a thorough examination of the case from an international standpoint, would provide insight into the current crisis, but obviously not a blueprint.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Agreed, this recession is structually more like the late 19th century ones than anything since WWII. But the recovery cycle will be far different (perhaps not better, but different). They were on a gold standard, with a laissez faire government. We have a fiat currency, government set interest rates, fractional banking, and an interventsionist government. Worlds different.

  11. We have dedicated a terrible proportion of our wealth to unproductive housing. The collapse of the credit bubble will revert house prices to somewhere around the pre-bubble trend line, and in the absence of massive cheap money housing ought to stay somewhere along that line. That’s a good thing, as we have to save and invest more and get away from the vanity of pouring a lifetime’s work into these silly houses. So, painful as it may be, we’re heading in the right direction. The notion that there’s some good in trying to re-inflate a bubble by destroying real wealth is just silly and short sighted and promises to keep our production tied up paying for over-priced housing! One thing we’re seeing is housing prices revert to levels in line with the volume of available financing. If you act to keep the prices high, how do you finance purchases?

    And how, how on earth, will we justify collecting taxes from folks who don’t yet own houses in order to blow up the very houses that are again coming into reach? That’s morally obscene.

  12. “It would not be a lesson to Americans that housing debt is not real debt and need not be repaid. It wouldn’t benefit the most irresponsible lenders and borrowers at the expense of responsible ones.”

    I completely understand this. Just yesterday a fellow drowned in my pool. At first I had an inexplicable urge to help. However, I don’t really want all the neighbors to believe that I am available to rescue them whenever they leap into the deep end.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Wonderful reply!

  13. In California, most of these new homes were built in the far exurbs, surrounded by farmland in many cases. When they were going up, many of us asked, “Who the hell wants to live out there?”. We now have the answer; apparently nobody. So tear them down and at least get the land’s agriculture utility back. Leaving them is just continuing stupidity on top of the infinite stupidity that built them in the first place. Before the melt down, gangs were buying them no money down and growing weed in them. Now, like Rome after the fall, gangs are pulling the copper wire and pipe out, our modern version of burning statues to lime our fields. Tear them down, and let our politicians explain why to the rest of us, a good exercise in leadership.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: In many of these areas it will happen, in the natural course of events. Or perhaps faster, if the government takes action.

  14. Sorry, FM – You’re still way off on this one. The ONLY benefit of credit/asset bubbles is the real infrastructure/technological growth that often occurs during the expansion stages. The classic bubbles of the 17th and 18th centuries helped fund the start of the first industrial revolution and the settlement of America by Europeans; the 1908-1929 bubble helped fund the second industrial revolution and the development of the auto industry (among others); and the 1982-2006 bubble helped fund the rise of industry in the BRIC countries and the electronic and bio-tech revolutions. In each case, the fall in asset prices from peak-bubble levels might (or might not) have been slowed or prevented by “bulldozing” the infrastructure that had been created and overpriced at one point, but no one was stupid enough to do that.

    There are NOT too many houses for our society’s good; the houses were simply priced too high at peak-bubble levels, and are still priced too high if they are not selling well. The value of housing to a society is not how easily it can generate eternal paper wealth. It is the physical homes themselves which are true wealth, and the paper value must adjust to fluctuating financial cycles.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: We will see who is correct in the next few years. But I believe you analogy is defective.

    Technology is seldom “overbuilt” — just prematurely developed. Even infrastructure tends to be used over time, like all that “dark” optical cable laid during the 1990’s boom. But homes are a wasting asset. They decay rapidly if not watched and maintained.

    When in areas with net out-migration (e.g., Detroit) or beyond local demand (e.g., California’s Central Valley), excess homes will be destroyed. By vandals, nature (fire, storm, normal wear), or the government (e.g., the South Bronx).

  15. FM, I mostly agree more with Michael, altho you are correct that that in areas of net out-migration or beyond local demand excess homes will be destroyed one way or another. In the link you refer to, you mostly discuss the true horrors of decaying houses, and only briefly note:

    “Measure to encourage homeownership or home purchases are of marginal effectiveness (e.g., tax breaks, lower interest rates, government aid). Almost everyone is already living in a “unit”. For example, at what interest rate would you buy a 2nd (additional) home in your neighborhood for your family to live in?”

    But you ask the wrong question. It’s the price that is decisive, not the interest rate — the interest rate was decisive during the bubble. In fact, unsurprisingly, times when the interest rate in more important than the price might be a good indicator of being in a bubble. When price is about a one-year’s average salary, plenty of people would be up for having a second home. I doubt that you believe there will be many $50 000 houses available anywhere in CA.

    The price needs to drop low enough so folks with some money are willing to invest it in the vacant houses; with pretty strong feelings the prices aren’t going lower soon.

    That’s where a gov’t program to buy the houses, at low prices not asking prices, helps to set a lower limit.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: You have totally missed the point. Everybody is already living in a housing unit (ex the homeless, a de minimus number in this discussion). Vacant units are not absorbed by any of these measures.

    The number of households can be affected slightly by government policy, the most important being immigration. On the other hand, recessions are periods in which the number of households decreases. People return to their homes in Mexico or points south. Young adults move back home. Marriages are delayed. Poor people double up.

    The measures you discuss might increase the amount of square feet people occupy, moving them into larger units. Or, probably more significantly, moving them from rentals into owner-occupied. Neither changes the number of vacant units.

    Just guessing, the factors decreasing the number of households is probably far stronger than any of the government incentives you mention.

  16. In re-reading the old Sep 8 column on housing, I see you note dismissingly that a gov’t program to get low income folk into houses is what led us into this problem. With the implication that doing it now would be a similar mistake.

    This is not quite true. The prior gov’t program was to help poor folks buy a house while buying into a bubble, and doing so by secretly letting the risk be taken by a GSE. My suggestion is for the gov’t to buy houses directly, and then sell/ rent/ lease them to poor workers at current low prices, while prices are declining/ uncertain.

    Here’s the new paradox of low income housing — even though the housing problem was gov’t effort to help low income folk afford housing through Fannie Mae guarantees on mortgages, which were then securitized, the best way to reduce the problem now is … for gov’t to help low income folk actually buy houses. To get vacant houses occupied by owners, even if they are poor workers.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Are you reading any of my replies to your repeated comments? What is the point of saying the same thing repeatedly?

    Worse, this is absurd on the face of it. Moving people from one housing unit into another does not reduce the number of vacant housing units — just the kind of units vacant. It might have some marginal impact, assuming most of the people relocated can afford their new unit. Moving people from rentals to owner-oc has zero effect.

    But, as I have repeately said, at best such probably would have a far smaller impact than the decrease in US households resulting from the recession.

  17. Your comment reply about moving from rental to owner occupied, and in increasing the square footage, seem true, but reducing the square footage of unoccupied units is a desirable goal. In addition, generally moving from old rentals to newer or larger or cheaper rentals is also desirable.

    There are always houses being destroyed, part of any increase in destruction should be to choose the least desirable.

    But you are missing the other key point about buying houses–putting a floor on the value of housing so that the MBS financial instruments can have a more calculable value. It is the uncertainty of derivatives’ value which is causing so much financial blockage. Altho I’m also sure there’s a lot of pressure to avoid a firm but low (like 50%) value.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Life is full of desirable goals, but resources are finite. And in this recession I believe we will find that government resources are very finite, too scarce to fritter away on schemes with weak basis in either history or economic theory.

    Just maintaining basic services and economic activity in the next few years will stress our government’s ability to borrow, plus the massive boomer retirements looming beyond that. Almost certainly we cannot afford to borrow massive expenditures in a probably vain attempt to maintain certain asset prices at above-market values.

  18. Now more than ever, our politics devolves to “City” versus “Country”. Witness the utterly city centric support for Obama, and look no furthur than the choice of Palin to see how the lines are being drawn.
    Simultaneously we see our current economic predicament triggered by a massive deployment of resources building houses in the country side no one there wants to buy, even to the point where we need to tear some down.
    In addition we can safely say labor and capital as economic inputs are kaput, leaving land based activity as a sort of economic last man standing.
    And now we see a massive move to intervene in banking by government.
    These are somehow all linked, but I do not perceive how, though I remember Hamilton struggled with some of this at the founding. Fabius?

  19. What positive purpose does tearing down already-constructed housing serve, besides to prop up the value of housing around it? That is one’s first reaction to this. The second (call me a cynic) is that our government will contrive a way to first charge the taxpayer to buy distressed properties that no one else wants or can afford, and then charge him again to tear down the homes, office space, etc. on those same properties, and finally a third time by selling them off at firesale prices to advantaged buyers with clout. That is, the house always wins!

    Let the system work; prices are inflated and should come down; they will find a level of their own accord. When distressed properties get low enough, someone will take a chance on them. If not to live in the, then to develop them for other reasons. Personally, I am fine with some high-rollers losing their shirts if it will teach them a lesson. However, one fears that they won’t be the ones punished, but instead Joe- and Jane-Taxpayer.

    Buying real estate is a bet, just like speculating in the stock market. If one misclaculates, one should be prepared to take the fall. If you cannot afford the worse-case scenario, don’t get into the market in the first place. Is that so hard to understand? Don’t they teach risk management at the Harvard MBA program these days?

    Why not use vacant properties as housing for those living on our streets, and who have nowhere else to go? If the taxpayer is to subsidize housing, at least let it serve some social good in doing so.

    Corporate RE welfare, or the like, is the last thing we ought to be funding. Capitalism is about making decisions and then accepting their consequences. In capitalism, poor decision making is – or should – be punished by the market, just as wise decision-making should be rewarded by it.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I suggest you spend some time with the street people of your nearest large city before giving them a home in some luckless neighborhood. Or first put them in the home next to you, so that your family are the lab rats for the trial run of your fine idea. This is quite different than the intensive social services that most need (and often refuse).

    Looking at the larger picture, the history of America is littered with ghost towns. Thousands of small towns in the NE and Midwest will die in the next few decades, as their children have been leaving for the big cities since WWII. The housing boom will do the same on a smaller scale, to individual housing developments rather than entire towns.

    As Queen Gertrude says to Hamlet (Act I, scene 2):

    Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
    And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
    Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
    Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
    Thou know’st ’tis common;
    all that lives must die,
    Passing through nature to eternity.

  20. FM, I do read and appreciate your comments, but never completely repeat myself, finding new reasons to support same policy of gov’t buying of houses at low prices rather than destroying them.

    Your last comment about creating ghost towns: “The housing boom will do the same on a smaller scale, to individual housing developments rather than entire towns.”

    This depends on gov’t actions and bankers. If the gov’t bails out the banks so they prefer not to drop the price enough to sell, a market price, then the ghost towns are coming. If the $300k houses 2 hours from a city are at $160k, or maybe $100k, at some price they’ll be bought.

    To support a gov’t process of destruction, rather than re-pricing, is usually wrong. The cases you cite about cities cleaning up slums are reasonable for destruction before re-creation in the city. You prefer a gov’t program to destroy because of recent over-creation in the country, rather than programs to give more support for re-location to the country.

    This might be your pro-city over the country bias, altho it’s also clear that most recent social choices of boomers and their kids has been towards suburbs and cities, more than the country.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I do not understand why you find it so difficult to accept the census data on the number of vacant units.

    “This depends on gov’t actions and bankers.”

    Only in theory, almost fantasy. Many of these developments — such as those in the central valley of California — have no prospect for occupation, as their is insufficient employment in the area — hence insufficient population. Esp. now that the construction boom has ended.

    People could be moved into these units, creating other vacancies in that area. Perhaps by a lottery, the lucky winners of which could move at government expense from their current home (owned or rented) into a larger new home. The mechanics would be complex, the potential high for widespread anger at the government. The most likely outcome is that many (not all, perhaps not most) of these developments will be destroyed, one way or another.

    On a smaller scale, across the nation individual emply homes will be destroyed over time, one way or another. There is little prospect that any government or banker actions can prevent this.

  21. The March, 2008, edition of The Atlantic Monthly includes the article, The Next Slum? , which asserts that abandoned suburban housing will transform many suburbs into slums.

    Taking this thesis, we may predict that many of these abandoned houses will become crack houses, used for growing marijuana, and the like. As these illicit activities are busted, the houses will be subject to asset forfeiture. Which means that government takeover would proceed on an ad hoc rather than systemic basis.

    On the other hand, one form of money laundering has been to purchase a dilapidated house with clean money and then pay handymen dirty cash to fix it up. The fixed up house would then be sold at a higher price. This won’t work in a depressed housing market.

  22. Duncan Kinder whines: “Meanwhile, the homeless continue to live in the gutter”…

    You know why, don’t you? Because that’s where the parasitic scum deserve to live…
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The milk of human kindness obvious does flow through your veins. Should you, which I hope not, acquire some mental illness, society will show you more empathy than your show the unfortunates on our streets. Some are just bums, some have drawn extraordinarily low cards in the game of life, many have some mental illness.

  23. In the UK there are lots of families living 10 , in a 2 bedroom house ; couples-with-baby , living with clenched teeth with in-laws ; people living in dull city flats close to work ,who would love a country bolt hole for weekends ; homeless people in hostels , hotels : who would buy homes if the price came down .
    Hmm…
    Perhaps your problem in US is actually that you dont have enough people . How about inviting in all those from the spreading deserts of the world , who have no water , food or fuel ? ( They could always be sent back as soon as the new Ice Age arrived .)

  24. Re: Anna Nichiolas — “How about inviting in all those from the spreading deserts of the world , who have no water , food or fuel?”

    Stop advocating for the flooding of America with 3rd worlders — we Americans like our beautiful and unspoiled open spaces and do no enjoy the crime, poverty, illiteracy, degradation, gutter morals, and lowered property values that 3rd worlders seem to bring along with them wherever they go.

  25. Certainly a radical solution, but it does take the bull by the horns and directly address the problem of housing oversupply. I’ve jokingly suggested the same myself.

    Alas, oversupply of housing remains but the tip of the real estate iceberg. There’s an even greater oversupply of commercial space, much of it built on spec, now decaying and empty. So even burning down all the excess housing stock wouldn’t put much of a dent in the real estate oversupply since the really big dollar amounts are still mired in commerical real estate, of which far too much got built during the 90s.

    Not quite as easy to rip down brand-new skyscrapers in the centers of big cities…

    Well…maybe we could get creative. Turn suburbs into homeless shelters? Convert unused office buildings into vertical gardens to supply cheap produce to citydwellers when oil gets too expensive to ship produce in from the country…?

  26. Ok , American , here are 2 more , tongue in cheek , thoughts . First , a lot of overcrowded Britsh are migrating , in the direction of warm climates and cheap houses .( We restock with genetically diverse people who have the skill and enterprise to fiddle paperwork , exploit rules , hang for hours under trucks , or cross the sea on rafts ). We are well established in France and Spain , have footholds in Bulgaria and flanking parties into Morocco and Florida ….
    Secondly , unexploited landspace might be a dangerous thing to have , inviting the overpopulated or dispossessed . Dare I mention the Zionist defeat of the British mandate in Palestine , as a ‘ how to do ‘ example ?

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