There is more to high house prices than constrained supply

TO GET HOUSE prices down, increase supply. The logic seems unarguable. Britain’s house prices have inflated hugely in recent decades: by 161% in real terms since 1996. Barriers to construction, such as the green belt—zones of protected countryside around cities—are clear to see. If politicians were to remove them, overcome nimbyism and build more houses, more people could afford to buy. That would arrest a decline in home ownership that has been particularly sharp among young people. In 1991, 67% of British 25- to 34-year-olds owned property; today only 37% do.

So goes the conventional wisdom. But even as policymakers have at last begun to embrace building, a new school of thought has gained prominence. Its advocates, the most vocal of whom is Ian Mulheirn of Oxford Economics, a consultancy, say high prices have little to do with supply shortages. They put the blame somewhere else: global financial markets.

Most studies of Britain’s housing market link a 1% increase in the number of...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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