Rent Forever and Love It


Housing is an industry, but it is also where people live, raise families, and stake their future. Yet increasingly, all around the world, housing has increasingly become just a commodity to be traded, often by foreigner investors, notably from China, as well as by large well-capitalized financial institutions who plan to cultivate a generation of lifelong renters. In the notorious words of the World Economic Forum, “You will own nothing, and love it.” Well, you may not love it, but the first part is coming true…

Policies that make things worse.

In many countries, government policy seems designed to accelerate the trend toward long-term tenancy. Australia, California, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, all cite environmental concerns to impose a large regulatory noose around new developments, particularly in the periphery. Overall, far fewer Californians, notes demographer Wendell Cox, can afford to buy a median-priced home today than in 2000, even though nationally the percentage of people who can afford homes has actually increased.

The price spike has been worsened by well-funded investors and speculators, who see artificially high prices, guaranteed by regulatory restraints, as a sure bet. All-cash buyers have grown to nearly 23 percent, more than twice the percentage in 2006, according to the California Board of Realtors.

These investors have powerful allies both on the right and left. Libertarians generally favor policies that limit single family zoning, even at the expense of working- and middle-class people. Randall O’Toole, who had been Cato Institute’s land use expert since 2007, notes that libertarians have been working hand-in-hand with left-wing groups in “to force” Californians “to live in ways in which they didn’t want to live.“ That is, in small apartments.


Relegated to old news (8/24) – TP

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