Boston Real Estate for Sale

My hero, Edward Glaeser, was interviewed for a piece in the Globe today.

Not a very in-depth interview, so not much to take away, unfortunately.

Glaeser seems to think that the way to lower housing costs is to build more housing. A novel idea, at least to some of our elected officials (and your neighbors).

He does seem to think that government should play a role in making housing affordable – I can’t agree with him there, I’m all free-market on that topic.

The interviewer kind of lost me on the following.

Housing changes key to city’s future – By Edward Glaeser, The Boston Globe

Q As consumer cities attract educated, skilled, and typically well-off people, is there a danger of cities becoming playgrounds for the wealthy and squeezing out lower- and middle-income families?

A You bet. That’s one reason I’m so concerned about housing. The ultimate barrier for entry is the cost of housing. The only way I know to be a more inclusive place is to have homes people can afford. The only way I know to do that is to build more. It’s a sad fact that Sunbelt cities we view as being less socially sensitive are providing a more affordable life and housing than we are.

Suggesting that cities such as Boston will become “playgrounds for the rich” is just ridiculous. It’s so impractical as to be laughable.

There is something like 30,000 public housing units in Boston. Those aren’t going anywhere. So, “lower-income” people aren’t going anywhere.

Middle-class? I don’t know how you would define “middle class” in Boston, so I can’t say whether or not they would be “priced out” of the city.

When reporters (and others) talk about the high cost of housing in Boston, they are often short-sighted. They see the cost of condos in the South End, Back Bay, and Beacon Hill, and consider all of Boston to be “expensive”.

This is a myopic point of view. The reason that housing in these neighborhoods (Back Bay, Midtown and Beacon Hill, for sure) is so expensive is simple supply and demand. The typical Back Bay townhouse is 5-stories high – and ain’t going to be any taller, no matter how loudly people protest.

Therefore, the cost of living in this centrally-located neighborhood will always be higher than in other areas.

Much like living in Manhattan is more expensive than living in Queens, the Bronx, or Albany.

Wishing it was otherwise is futile, a complete waste of time. Making laws that try to circumvent this state of affairs (by having affordable housing set-asides, for example) is bizarre and counter to logical thinking, no matter what your politics.

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Updated:  1st Q 2018

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