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One aspiring Londoner was even asked to pay ?500 a month to live in a utility cupboard under a stairwell recently. Here are some examples of stunning properties you could be renting if you upped sticks to another country. The above house is a four-bed, three-bath detached house in British Columbia which will set you back ?1,142 a month.
While the below two-bed, two-bath house is considerably smaller, it benefits from its own boat dock and a large al fresco decking area. This trendy four-bed, two-bath house on Sweden’s south coast has been renovated and now boasts an indoor pool.
Instead of shopping at IKEA, you could bag a Nordic bargain by moving to its country of origin. Barbados is a favourite holiday retreat for the rich and famous but you don’t need to be rich to live somewhere like this.
The monthly rent at this grand four-bed, five-bath Bajan villa close to the sea is a mere ?1,054. An infinity pool and dolphin statues accompany probably the best view of all time at this Surat Thani property. Hard to believe, but this enormous five-bed, seven-bath house in Carithas Kottayan can be rented for a mere ?1,173. If you prefer something a bit more quirky there’s always this cheerful two-bed, three-bath house in Dehradun Uttarakhand, complete with expansive grounds and a lovely flower garden.
Tuscany is one of the most beautiful, tranquil areas of Italy – but the pace of life there is pretty slow. This three-bed, one-bath cottage is an ideal family home – costs just ?1,288 a month to rent.
Living in decent, affordable, and reasonably located housing is one of the most important determinants of well–being for every Californian.
What has caused housing prices to increase so quickly over the past several decades and what would it take to moderate this trend? What are the consequences of California’s high housing costs on the state’s households and the economy generally? What steps should the Legislature take in the near term as it considers how to address the state’s high housing costs? Rising home prices and rents are a signal that more households would like to live in an area than there is housing to accommodate them. Between 1980 and 2010, construction of new housing units in California’s coastal metros was low by national and historical standards. Our review indicates that that the relationship between growth of housing supply and increased housing costs is complex and affected by other factors—such as demographics, local economies, and weather.
Because different types of developments yield different amounts of tax revenues and service demands, local governments throughout the nation commonly examine these fiscal effects when considering new developments or planning for future development. In contrast, many California cities and counties find that housing developments lead to more local costs than offsetting tax revenues.
Not surprisingly given these incentives, many cities and counties have oriented their land use planning and approval process disproportionately towards the development of commercial establishments and away from higher–density multifamily housing. In recent decades, California has built new housing at a slower rate than the rest of the country and much of this new housing has been built in relatively underdeveloped inland areas. Built substantially more new housing—in the range of 70,000 to 110,000 additional units each year.
We do, however, recognize that any attempt to estimate the state’s future housing needs faces significant uncertainties.
In addition, households that are able to purchase a home typically take on more mortgage debt because home prices are higher here. The cost of renting rose by 0.4 per cent last month, pushing the average price to A?712 a month, data by LSL Property Services has shown today. This was the second consecutive month that rents rose, with prices returning to January levels, amid strong competition among tenants and the end of a stamp duty concession in March, which had caused a slowdown in the rental market activity.
Meanwhile, the biggest annual decrease in rent was in East Midlands, where it fell by 1.5 per cent to A?535 a month.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.
Buying now costs less in nearly half of UK cities - and the biggest savings are in Glasgow and Coventry.
You probably don't know that New York City has some of the country's highest taxes on apartment buildingsa€”and if you're not subject to rent control, much of that cost is flowing through to you as a renter. Not all property taxes are high here: New York actually has very low taxes on owner-occupied homes. If we just taxed all property at the same rate, apartment building taxes would fall by $1,000 to $1,500 per unit.
Here are a few charts that show just how bizarre New York's tax system is, and how renters are getting screwed. The next chart compares New York just against large cities in metropolitan areas where median apartment rents exceeded $1,000 in 2011. Some amount of tax preference for homeowners is normal, but New York City takes it to an outlandish degree. In 2006, New York City's independent budget office estimated that taxing all property in the city at the same rate would cut taxes by about $1,500 per unit for elevatored apartment buildings and $1,000 for walk-ups. One study looked at cities near Boston and found that the lion's share of property tax increases (85%) gets borne by landlords. The reason that landlords would bear most of the cost of a property tax increase is that apartment demand is more elastic than apartment supply: If property taxes go up and my landlord tries to raise my rent, I can move to the next town but he can't move his building there.
Renters are also more likely to bear the burden of New York's high property taxes because they are specific to apartments. Data on national property tax comparisons used in this post come from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. It’s not often that you come across a home with 30,000 gallons of water in the living room. Its owner, Evelyn McMurray Van-Zeller, says that having such an amenity in her own home leaves her feeling like she is on permanent holiday. The surrounding living room has a cave-like, medieval, Moroccan look according to Ms.
The mansion is divided into a triplex with two apartments on the top floors that rent for $4,000 and $5,000, respectively. This is the perfect pad for those who love nature, but need a prime New York location with a price-tag of $10.955 million. Upper West Side neighborhood in Manhattan is known f0or its almost undeniably expensive real estate rates. By DefinitionLuxury is the use and enjoyment of the best and most costly things that offer the most physical comfort and satisfaction.
Amid high housing costs, many households make serious trade–offs to afford living here. In recent decades, the state has approached the problem of housing affordability for low–income Californians and those with unmet housing needs primarily by subsidizing the construction of affordable housing through bond funds, tax credits, and other resources.
We advise the Legislature to change policies to facilitate significantly more private home and apartment building in California’s coastal urban areas. More than just basic shelter, housing affects our lives in other important ways, determining our access to work, education, recreation, and shopping. We pay particular attention to identifying what has caused housing prices to increase so quickly in recent decades, and provide information to assist the Legislature in making decisions that will affect the future performance of the state’s housing markets. As shown in Figure 1, home prices in California are much higher than they are in other large states.
In a state as large and economically diverse as California, some areas have much higher home prices and rents (and other areas much lower) than the statewide average. Single–family home prices and apartment rents in less costly areas of the state, such as Fresno and Bakersfield, though considered inexpensive by California standards, are about average compared with the rest of the country. Federal, state, and local government housing programs generally work in one of two ways, by: (1) increasing the supply of moderately priced housing or (2) reducing housing costs for some households.
In addition to constructing new housing, governments have also taken steps to make existing housing more affordable. First and foremost, far less housing has been built in California’s coastal areas than people demand.
California is a very desirable place to live, with temperate weather, long stretches of coastline, and highly educated and culturally diverse economic centers. A look at housing costs in California’s coastal metros in recent decades shows a connection between the slow rate of building and higher housing costs.
The same relationship between growth of housing supply and housing costs exists throughout the country, suggesting that what has occurred in California is not coincidental. Nonetheless, using common statistical techniques to account for the influence of these other factors, there remains a strong relationship between home building and prices. Although high land costs can translate into higher home prices and rents, it is possible to offset the effects of high land costs through more dense development.
While developers typically respond to high land costs by building more dense housing, this response appears to be somewhat limited in most of California’s coastal metros. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires local governments to conduct a detailed review of the potential environmental effects of new housing construction (and most other types of development) prior to approving it. California’s local government finance structure typically gives cities and counties greater fiscal incentives to approve nonresidential development or lower density housing development. Cities and counties generally decide when, where, and to what extent housing development will occur (cities make these decisions within their boundaries and counties in unincorporated areas). In general, many potential or perceived downsides of new housing accrue to existing residents, while many of the benefits of new housing accrue to future residents.
Many people, as they become accustomed to their lifestyle and the character of their neighborhood, naturally are hesitant about change and future unknowns.
Hesitance about new housing can lead residents to pressure local officials to use their land use authority to slow or block new development or may result in residents directly intervening in land use decisions via the initiative and referendum process.
Cities and counties often require housing projects to go through multiple layers of review prior to approval.
In 2008, a Southern California local government approved construction of a condo tower in its jurisdiction. Many significant land use decisions in California’s coastal communities are made by voters. A collection of factors come together on the California coast to create a particularly heightened level of community resistance to new housing.
CEQA was enacted in 1970 in order to ensure that state and local agencies consider the environmental impact of their decisions when approving a public or private project.
The CEQA process can provide valuable information to decision makers and help to avoid unnecessary environmental impacts. For example, developments can trigger increased demand for local governments to provide police and fire services to new residents or to expand streets and roads to accommodate increased vehicle traffic.
As a matter of fiscal prudence, development that does not generate sufficient revenues to fund a local government’s new costs often is revised or rejected.
This is because these properties do not produce sales or hotel tax revenues directly and the state’s cities and counties typically receive only a small portion of the revenue collected from the property tax. Topography is the primary constraint on developable land in California’s coastal metros. Another constraint on development in California’s coastal metros is the extent to which land already has been developed.
City and county land use policies can alleviate pressures created by limited vacant land by encouraging redevelopment and allowing developers to build more housing on each parcel. As a result, California’s supply of housing has not kept pace with demand to live in the state and housing costs have grown faster than the rest of the country. As described more fully in this report’s technical appendix, our model uses standard statistical tools to examine housing price and supply changes in major metropolitan counties throughout the United States and control for various factors. Between 1980 and 2010, California’s major metros added about 120,000 new housing units each year.
Our estimates suggest that, to contain price growth, the geographical distribution of new housing over the past three decades needed to be different, with significantly more building in coastal areas and somewhat less building in inland areas. As we discussed above, insufficient housing was built in California’s coastal counties, causing demand to spill over into inland areas.
If California had added 210,000 new housing units each year over the past three decades (as opposed to 120,000), California’s population would be much greater than it is today. Our analysis in this section suggests that these barriers have created a major disconnect between the demand for housing and its supply.
Unforeseeable changes in demographics, economic conditions, or technology could shift dramatically the dynamics of California’s housing markets. Because housing is such a large financial consideration, households make careful decisions about the location, cost, and amenities of their home. In the American Community Survey, household income is the total of incomes earned by each member of the household who is at least 16 years old. Median household income in California is about $9,000 more annually than the national median. Households with low incomes spend a smaller amount of money each month on housing than do households with higher incomes. Nationwide, renter households spend a significantly larger share of their income on housing. The federal government each year calculates what share of each state’s population lives in poverty. The federal government has actively promoted homeownership since it restructured the housing finance system during the Great Depression. An additional byproduct of higher home prices is that young people delay purchasing their first home, possibly because saving for a down payment takes longer or households are not able to generate qualifying income levels until later in their careers. Urban Institute data shows that the average California homeowner had $55,000 in mortgage debt outstanding as of 2013, about $17,000 more than the average U.S. Housing experts measure crowding by comparing the number of people in a household to the number of rooms in their home, including bedrooms and common rooms but excluding bathrooms. Individuals who live in crowded housing generally have worse educational and behavioral health outcomes than people that do not live in crowded housing. In our analysis, we examined the relationship between California’s high housing costs and overcrowding. Certain household types are more likely than average to live in crowded housing, such as households headed by foreign–born adults, Hispanics, and those with children. Determining whether housing costs affect crowding is challenging because areas with the high housing costs tend to have fewer households types that are likely to be crowded. In 2013, workers in large metros throughout the country spent, on average, 55 minutes commuting each day. The relationship between metropolitan characteristics, including its housing costs, and average commute times is complex.
Our analysis found that many important factors have statistically significant effects on commute times.
Understanding how housing costs affect a household’s decision about where to live and work is challenging. Housing costs are a significant driver of migration to and from California, and changes in the state’s housing costs (relative to other areas of the country) influence migration trends. London rents were the highest, increasing by 0.6 per cent in May to hit a record high of A?1,038 a month, the study has found.


A combined city and state tax rate of 10.4% kicks in at just $22,000 of taxable income for a single person. Our property tax system is a perverse cross-subsidy from relatively poor renters to relatively rich homeowners. Of the 50 largest cities in the United States, only one has a higher tax rate on apartment buildings: Detroit. You'll notice that the other highest-tax cities are Detroit, Indianapolis, and Memphis: Not exactly places with red-hot expensive property markets. In large cities nationally, apartment tax rates tend to be 1.4 times higher than tax rates on owner-occupied homes. But there is good reason to think that much more of the burden gets shifted to renters in New York City. But New York City is a geographically large jurisdiction whose residents have a strong preference for living within its boundaries; renters here are much more captive than those in some specific suburb of Boston. A landlord can't move his building but he often can convert it to a condominium or a co-op. But one luxury mansion in Manhattan is equipped with just that – an indoor pool that doubles as an entertainment area for the owners.This ultra-luxe federal style mansion is located in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC.
All in all there are six bedrooms, five bathrooms, and five fireplaces, including one in each of the rented apartments, and a garden with a small pool for Ms. A free indulgence in costly food, dress, furniture, or anything expensive which gratifies the appetites or tastes. Beginning in about 1970, however, the gap between California’s home prices and those in the rest country started to widen. Yet not enough housing exists in the state’s major coastal communities to accommodate all of the households that want to live there. Because these programs have historically accounted for only a small share of all new housing built each year, they alone could not meet the housing needs we identify in this report. Though the exact number of new housing units California needs to build is uncertain, the general magnitude is enormous. The cost and availability of housing also matters for the state’s economy, affecting the ability of businesses and other employers to hire and retain qualified workers and influencing their decisions about whether to locate, expand, or remain in California. In most instances, these trade–offs are particularly challenging for households with low incomes. The slowdown in building in California’s coastal metros corresponded with a substantial rise in housing costs relative to the rest of the country.
Looking broadly at major metropolitan counties (counties comprising metros with a population of 500,000 or greater) throughout the country, places with slower housing growth generally have more expensive housing. In contrast, land prices in inland California typically are at or below the national average. As a result, high land costs in these areas have translated more directly into higher housing costs. The relationship between building costs and prices and rents, however, differs across inland and coastal areas of the state. Because of the importance of cities and counties in determining development patterns, how local residents feel about new housing is important. The information in these reports sometimes results in the city or county denying proposals to develop housing or approving fewer housing units than the developer proposed. Consequently, many cities and counties have oriented their land use planning and approval processes disproportionately towards these types of developments. This scarcity of land makes it more difficult for developers to find sites to build new housing.
Local zoning laws and building codes specify where housing may be built, as well as its density, quality, and style. It is unsurprising then that they would be concerned about adding new housing to their community because it presents uncertainty and possibilities of change.
Compared with the rest of the country, these types of activities appear to occur more often in California’s coastal communities, suggesting that community opposition to housing is heightened in these areas. Many policies directly limit growth—for example, by capping the number of new homes that may be built in a given year or limiting building heights and densities. For example, a project may require independent review by a building department, health department, fire department, planning commission, and city council. More often than not, voters in California’s coastal communities vote to limit housing development when given the option.
High demand to live on California’s coast results in constant pressure for additional housing. Under CEQA, before approving new housing (or other development), cities and counties usually must conduct a preliminary analysis to determine whether a project may have significant adverse environmental impacts. The CEQA review process also provides many opportunities for opponents to raise concerns regarding a project’s potential effects on a wide array of matters, including parking, traffic, air and water quality, endangered species, and historical site preservation.
This is because the increased sales and hotel tax revenue that a city (or, in the case of a development in an unincorporated area, the county) receives from these developments often more than offsets the local government’s costs to provide them public services. In many California communities, however, for reasons discussed earlier the opposite is true.
To give the Legislature an estimate of the magnitude of this housing shortfall, we developed a quantitative model of California’s housing market.
A key element of our model is its ability to estimate the number of housing units that needed to be built to satisfy demand and keep housing prices within certain ranges.
Figure 7 compares actual home building in California’s largest counties between 1980 and 2010 to the levels of building that we estimate would have kept home price growth in line with the rest of the country.
Because of this, adding more housing to these metros would have required housing to be built more densely.
Readers, therefore, should focus less on our specific estimates and more on the simple story they tell: to contain rising housing costs, California would have to build significant more housing, especially in coastal urban areas. The survey asks a sample of all households detailed questions about their finances, employment, demographics, location, and housing characteristics. For renters, monthly housing costs include what they pay for rent and any additional utilities or fuel costs in addition to their rent payments that are not paid by the landlord on behalf of the tenant. For other types of households, however, differences between Californians and the rest of the country may be more or less pronounced. Lower–income households nevertheless spend a much larger share of their total income on housing, leaving fewer resources leftover for other spending and savings priorities. The median renter spends about 30 percent of his or her income on housing, whereas the median homeowner spends 20 percent.
Typically, poverty is calculated by the Official Poverty Measure, which defines a family as poor if their pretax cash income is less than a poverty threshold that is standard across the nation. As a result, these households may find it more difficult to accommodate a drop in household income because they have a smaller amount of nonhousing disposable income and likely have smaller available savings. Although several definitions exist, we consider a household crowded if there is more than one adult per room, counting two children as equivalent to one adult.
Among adults, crowding has been shown to increase stress and aggression, lead to social isolation, and weaken relationships between parents and their children. Because California has many households types that commonly live in larger, multigenerational households (such as households with foreign–born members), we examined different household types separately, as shown in Figure 15. Using statistical analysis, however, we found that living in a high housing cost area is associated with a higher likelihood of living in crowded housing, after accounting for other factors that also affect crowding rates.
Ideally, each household could choose housing in their preferred neighborhood, near good schools and welcoming amenities, with only a short work commute.
Most factors are straightforward—for instance, natural geography, existing transportation infrastructure and the availability of public transit, and the spatial distribution of jobs relative to that of housing.
Workers in California’s coastal metros averaged 60 minutes, about 10 percent more than the national average.
Assuming neighborhood characteristics and other preferences are unchanged, housing costs should decline as one moves further from job centers. This is because regional and state economies are complex and numerous interconnected factors influence housing costs (as well as other costs of living) and economic opportunities in these areas.
The difficult question is how much of the tax on apartment buildings gets passed through to renters.
Such conversions have been a major trend in New York City real estate over the last 40 years. And tax abatements for new rental buildings are tied to requirements to set aside affordable units; again, the benefit of the abatement does not flow through to tenants paying market rate. But one reason is this hidden tax on renters that New York has decided, uniquely among large cities, to impose. It’s the only one of its kind in New York that features a full-sized swimming pool in the middle of the living room! Maintaining such a swimming pool definitely requires a lot of work but with a sauna and a gym added to the mix, Zeller says that there isn’t a need to even leave the house. In these areas, community resistance to housing, environmental policies, lack of fiscal incentives for local governments to approve housing, and limited land constrains new housing construction. For this reason, we advise the Legislature to consider how targeted programs that assist those with limited access to market rate housing could supplement broader changes that facilitate more private housing construction. Because of the important role housing plays in the lives of Californians, the state’s high housing costs are a major ongoing concern for state and local policy makers. Notable and widespread trade–offs include (1) spending a greater share of their income on housing, (2) postponing or foregoing homeownership, (3) living in more crowded housing, (4) commuting further to work each day, and (5) in some cases, choosing to work and live elsewhere.
In addition, some of the unmet demand to live in coastal areas spills over into inland California, driving up prices there too. Home building was even slower in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the housing stock grew by only around 20 percent. In 1970, home prices in the state’s coastal metros were about 50 percent more expensive than in the rest of the country. Comparing land prices across metropolitan areas can be difficult, largely due to data limitations. Construction labor is about 20 percent more expensive in California metros than in the rest of the country. In places where housing is relatively abundant, such as much of inland California, building costs generally determine housing costs. When residents are concerned about new housing, they can use the community’s land use authority to slow or stop housing from being built or require it to be built at lower densities. In addition, CEQA’s complicated procedural requirements give development opponents significant opportunities to continue challenging housing projects after local governments have approved them.
Housing developers are required to obtain building permits from city and county planning departments and typically must gain approval from local planning commissions and city councils or county boards of supervisors. Existing homeowners, therefore, may be inclined to limit new housing because they fear it will reduce the values of the homes.
Other policies indirectly limit growth—for example, by requiring a supermajority of local boards to approve housing projects. During the lawsuit, which lasted around two years, the developer defaulted on its loan for the project site and plans for development were abandoned.
At the same time, residents of California’s coast have much at stake in decisions about housing growth, as their communities have very high home values and desirable natural amenities.
If it is determined that a project might create significant impacts, then an environmental impact report (EIR) must be prepared. A project cannot move forward until all concerns are addressed, either through mitigation or with a determination by elected officials that benefits of the project outweigh the costs. As a result, cities and counties often encourage these types of commercial developments to locate within their jurisdictions—for example by zoning large sections of land for these purposes and by offering subsidies or other benefits to the prospective business owners.
This is because the luxury housing generates higher levels of property tax revenues per new resident. By comparison, land in the outlying areas of California coastal metros (land beyond the 25 mile radius) has housing at about twice the density as outlying areas in metros elsewhere in the country (four housing units per acre in California versus about two units per acre elsewhere in the country). Zoning laws often require developers to build housing at densities that are common elsewhere in the community, preventing developers from building at higher densities to counter high land costs. This section begins with a description of this model and its findings and then assesses the likelihood of similar–sized housing shortfalls continuing in the future. As Figure 8 shows, most of California’s coastal counties needed to build three times as much (or more) housing as they did, while inland counties built more housing than our estimates suggest was needed to contain price growth. Insufficient housing was built in the central cities of coastal counties to satisfy demand for housing, driving development into suburban and rural areas. Figure 10 shows our estimates of how dense housing would be in California’s coastal metros if they had grown over the last 30 years at the rate necessary to keep their prices in line with the rest of the country. Each household finds its unique answers to these questions, typically responding to high housing costs with a combination of trade–offs.
It does not include capital gains income, money from the sale of a property, gifts, lump–sum inheritances, or money that was borrowed during the year. For most California households, therefore, higher housing costs consume a large portion of their higher income.
Primarily, this occurs because renter households have notably lower incomes, on average, than owner households.
For households with above–average incomes, higher housing costs may mean they spend less on other items, but these households typically have sufficient resources to purchase regular household necessities. Based on this measure, California’s poverty rate is slightly higher than the rest of the United States, as shown in Figure 13. Under this definition, a three room apartment (with a kitchen, living room, and one bedroom) is crowded if more than three adults live there.
Figure 16 shows that the likelihood of being crowded increases when the area’s median home price increases (moving from left to right). In practice, though, not only are ideal locations relatively sparse, those that do exist are desirable and therefore expensive. This is because commuting involves monetary and nonmonetary costs that must be offset somehow.
Despite this complexity, economists and other researchers have identified ways that housing costs affect migration—and, in some instances, have attempted to quantify the magnitude of these effects.
On the other hand, this flow is highest when California housing becomes relatively more affordable compared to other states. Rents must rise so that landlords are willing to keep their buildings as rentals despite the unfavorable tax treatment. A shortage of housing along California’s coast means households wishing to live there compete for limited housing.
Faced with expensive housing options, workers in California’s coastal communities commute 10 percent further each day than commuters elsewhere, largely because limited housing options exist near major job centers. In other cases, local governments limit how much landlords can increase rents each year for existing tenants. The lack of housing on the California coast means households wishing to live there compete for limited housing. During the mid–2000s, housing prices were rising throughout the country and, in most locations, developers responded with additional building. As Figure 5 shows, this rate of housing growth along the state’s coast also is low by California historical standards. Census data, the median home price in 2010 was just over $300,000 in the fifth of counties that grew the slowest between 1980–2010, compared with $195,000 in the fifth of counties that grew the fastest. Nonetheless, several estimates of land values are available in the economics literature and they find that land is considerably more expensive on California’s coast.


This is because land costs are fixed and do not increase if a developer builds additional units.
Census data to compare changes in housing densities during the 2000s in California’s coastal metros to changes in metros elsewhere in the country.
California’s building codes and standards also are considered more comprehensive and prescriptive, often requiring more expensive materials and labor. For example, new development may increase traffic on existing streets and roads, forcing some residents who commute via car to take public transportation instead. Research has found that these policies have been effective at limiting growth and consequently increasing housing costs. Additional complexity in review processes also creates avenues for concerned residents to slow building or reduce its size and scope, as the story in the nearby box shows. In 2011, a second developer purchased the project site and continued efforts to build a condo tower. On average, coastal communities as a whole approved five measures per year limiting housing growth (or rejected measures allowing new building). An EIR provides detailed information about a project’s likely effect on the environment, considers ways to mitigate significant adverse environmental effects, and examines alternatives to the project. In addition, after a local governing board approves a project, opponents may file a lawsuit challenging the validity of the CEQA review. More development in outlying areas typically leaves less vacant land for future development.
In addition, local communities sometimes pressure developers to reduce a project’s planned density during approval processes. Under this approach, California’s median housing prices still would have grown between 1980 and 2010, but the rate of growth would have been slower and comparable to that in the rest of the country.
For the remainder of this section, we discuss our midpoint estimates.) Figure 7 shows our estimate of additional housing construction needed in each of the past three decades. As Figure 9 shows, between 1980 and 2010, home prices in most of California’s largest cities grew faster than home prices in surrounding areas within the same county. Housing densities in many coastal counties would be more than two–thirds higher under the LAO growth scenario than they are today. At the same time, we see no signs that coastal community resistance to new housing construction is abating. In the following section, we review five significant trade–offs households make when faced with high housing costs. On average, American households spend about one–quarter of their gross monthly income on housing. Specifically, the median California household spends about 27 percent of their monthly income on housing. As shown in Figure 12, California households with incomes in the bottom quartile report spending 67 percent of their income on housing, about 11 percent more than low–income households elsewhere. In addition to generally lower income levels, renters spend more on housing, on average, because a portion of homeowners have owned their homes for many years and therefore have very low monthly mortgage costs or no mortgage costs whatsoever. For low–income households, though, high housing costs cut into spending considered more necessary. The federal government also reports poverty levels using an alternative measure, the so–called Supplemental Poverty Measure, which adjusts poverty thresholds based on local costs of living. Figure 14 shows that, across the country, metro areas where home prices are high relative to average income levels tend to have lower homeownership rates.
Researchers have found that children in crowded housing score lower on standardized math and reading exams. A review of the data, however, shows that California’s crowding rate is higher than one would expect based solely on its larger share of these household types.
In response, households balance their preferences and resources, selecting trade–offs among housing costs, commute times, and neighborhood characteristics.
Neighborhood characteristics and preferences change across metropolitan areas, however, making the analysis of commute times and metro characteristics additionally complex.
Below, we summarize the aspects of this work we believe are most helpful when considering how housing costs affect migration and the state’s economy.
In 2013, median monthly in California was $1,240, nearly 50 percent more than the national average.
About 15 California cities have these so–called rent controls, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. Homebuilders typically respond to high land costs by building more housing units on each plot of land they develop, effectively spreading the high land costs among more units.
As Figure 4 shows, however, new housing construction, as measured by building permits issued by local officials, remained flat in California’s coastal metros.
Homes in the coastal metros are now more than three times more expensive than the rest of the country. Yet housing costs in much of inland California are above average relative to the rest of the country.
For example, if a developer builds five homes on a plot of land that costs $100,000, the land cost per unit is $20,000. This competition benefits renters and prospective homebuyers by depressing prices and rents, keeping them close to building costs.
Strains on existing infrastructure also may require state and local governments to make new investments in infrastructure to expand capacity.
One study of growth controls enacted by California cities found that each additional growth control policy a community added was associated with a 3 percent to 5 percent increase in home prices. While most major local jurisdictions throughout the country have some form of an initiative and referendum process, California’s high degree of voter involvement in land use decisions appears to be unique.
In addition, there is very little vacant land for new housing, meaning that development often takes the form of redevelopment in established neighborhoods. Where an EIR finds that a project will have significant adverse environmental impacts, a city or county is prohibited from approving the project unless one of the following two conditions is met: (1) the project developer makes modifications that substantially lessen the adverse environmental effects or (2) the city or county finds that economic or other project benefits override the adverse environmental effects. These types of redevelopment activities can yield increased housing supply even in areas where little or no vacant land exists. Cities and counties also can magnify the effect of scarce land on housing costs by choosing to allocate a large share of available land to nonhousing uses, such as retail and hotel development. These statewide estimates, however, mask significant variation across regions of the state, as well as across cities within those regions.
In general, because unmet demand results in competition for housing and rising costs, home prices and rents are highest where unmet demand is greatest. Despite these sizeable increases, housing densities in California’s coastal metros under our growth scenario would not be unprecedented. In other areas of the state, where significant housing development occurred due to spillover demand in the state’s coastal metros, population would likely be about what it is today or potentially smaller.
In addition, many state and local policies that have slowed or stopped development in recent decades remain in effect today.
These include: (1) spending a larger share of income on housing, (2) postponing or foregoing homeownership, (3) living in more crowded housing, (4) commuting further to work each day, or (5) sometimes, choosing to work and live elsewhere.
The median household in the rest of the country, on the other hand, spends about 23 percent. Researchers who study crowding report that it leads to a wide range of negative outcomes, which we describe below. A lack of available and distraction–free studying space appears to affect educational achievement. Then, we examined how likely each of these household types is to be crowded based on the cost of housing in their metro.
This is because crowding rates for each household type (including those most likely to live in crowded housing) are higher in California than they are elsewhere.
For example, up to a point, commute times generally increase as areas become denser because transportation options become more congested. To find housing at a price they are willing to pay, households in more expensive metros might choose to live further from work than they would if housing were less expensive.
These factors may include weather conditions, widespread development and availability of freeway systems, and an above–average share of commuters who drive to work. It also would require the state to make changes to a broad range of policies that affect housing supply directly or indirectly—including policies that have been fundamental tenets of California government for many years. The average monthly rent for a two–bedroom apartment in San Francisco ($2,000) was two and a half times greater than the average in Fresno or Bakersfield (both about $800). By the end of the 1940s, the state’s home prices were 30 percent higher than average. In California’s coastal metros, however, this response has been limited, meaning higher land costs have translated more directly into higher housing costs. Similarly, rents have grown more expensive, with the gap between the coastal metros and the rest of the country increasing threefold since 1970 (from 16 percent more expensive to around 50 percent more expensive). Alternatively, if the developer builds ten homes on the same plot of land, the land cost per unit is only $10,000.
Because San Francisco appeared to be exceptional, we focused the rest of our review on California’s other coastal metros. In these types of housing markets, building costs account for the vast majority of home prices. New housing also can alter the character of a community, shifting it from a rural to an urban setting or from a traditional single–family home neighborhood to a neighborhood with a mix of densities and land uses. One review of election results across the country during the November 2000 election found that just under half of all measures related to land use planning and growth management were in California. Redevelopment changes these neighborhoods, creating additional concerns for existing residents. Redevelopment, however, often is more cumbersome and expensive than development on vacant land.
These price trends, therefore, suggest that unmet demand for housing is greater in central cities relative to surrounding areas. As Figure 10 shows, there are other metropolitan counties throughout the country that currently are as dense as California’s coastal metros would be under our growth scenario.
We therefore think that, in the absence of major policy changes, California’s trend of rapidly rising housing costs is very likely to continue in the future. For higher–income households, as shown in the figure, California households and households in other areas spend a similar, much smaller, share of their income on housing. Researcher find these outcomes even after they account for other socioeconomic factors that might affect well–being, like income and educational level. After densities reach a certain level, however, the viability of public transportation options improves. Also, California’s average monthly rent is about $1,240, 50 percent higher than the rest of the country ($840 per month).
In addition to a shortage of housing, high land and construction costs also play some role in high housing prices.
We also examined existing data to better understand the value of single–family home lots in different areas.
We compared changes in density in these other California coastal metros with metros that have land prices and existing housing densities similar to those found on California’s coast.
In addition, new housing can place strains on natural and environmental resources, in some instances making it more difficult to ensure adequate air and water quality or to protect natural ecosystems. Divergence from the rest of the country was more significant in some communities—for example, typical approval time was over a year in San Francisco and over eight months in the City of Los Angeles. The CEQA process also, in some cases, results in developers reducing the size and scope of a project in response to concerns discovered during the review process. Developers must demolish old buildings and often are required to address environmental pollutants and toxic substances leftover from previous uses.
More housing development was needed in central cities relative to surrounding areas to contain growth in housing costs. Due to this and other economic factors, renter median net worth totaled $5,400 in 2013, a small fraction of the $195,400 median homeowner’s net worth.
As a result, children in crowded housing also displayed more behavioral problems at school. In some circumstances, this can relieve pressure on other transportation options and reduce average commute times. Not surprisingly, we found that metro areas with higher housing costs tend to have longer average commute times.
While these higher building costs contribute to higher prices throughout the state, building costs appear to play a smaller role in explaining high housing costs in coastal areas. This displaced demand places pressure on inland housing markets and results in higher home prices and rents there. Using American Housing Survey data from 2011, we found an even greater divergence between California and the rest of the country.
New construction, therefore, is likely to proceed at a slower pace where land must be redeveloped. In our view, this major finding that demand for housing in California substantially exceeds supply should inform discussions and decision making regarding state and local government housing policies. In the state’s largest metro, Los Angeles, the average household spends 30 percent of their income on housing, 7 percent more than the national average. For many households in high housing cost areas, though, homeownership’s benefits remain out of reach, as higher home prices (relative to area incomes) mean fewer and fewer households can afford to become homeowners. This section describes how each of these factors increase home prices and rents in California.
Examining the relationship between housing costs in neighboring counties throughout the country using U.S.
Renters and home buyers compete for a limited number of apartments and homes, bidding up prices far in excess of building costs. Our review found that, during the 2000s, the housing density of a typical neighborhood in California’s coastal metros rose by 4 percent. Land values were highest in San Francisco, where an acre of land was valued at nearly $400,000. This increase in density was considerably less than the 11 percent average increase in our comparison group. Under these circumstances, as Figure 6 shows, building costs explain only a small portion of growth in housing costs. Furthermore, we estimate that the new housing built in these comparison metros was about 40 percent more dense than housing built in California’s coastal metros. Instead, increasing competition for limited housing is the primary driver of housing cost growth in coastal California. A study of jurisdictions in the Bay Area found that each additional layer of independent review was associated with a 4 percent increase in a jurisdiction’s home prices.
New housing in the comparison metros had an average density of about 14 units per acre, compared with about ten units per acre in California’s coastal metros.



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