Of all the talking points used against building more housing in big cities, one of the most common is a simple question: Why build units that will just get snapped up by foreign speculators? Writing in CityLab recently about the housing market in Vancouver, Andy Yan, a director at Simon Fraser University, discussed real-estate speculators and other outside buyers and pessimistically asked, “Who are we building for?” My colleague Nicole Gelinas recently wrote in Governing that high-rise construction in New York City merely induces demand from the overseas rich, who view the units as investments and keep them empty.
Foreign investors thus get lumped in with other scapegoats who are thought to “take” housing from more deserving recipients. These include Airbnb guests, college students, techies and immigrants, among others. Some cities impose regulations against these groups, cracking down on Airbnb, outlawing student housing in certain areas, or taxing foreign speculation.
But this mindset is impractical.
Market Urbanism is the cross between free-market policies and urban issues. Market Urbanists believe that if cities were liberalized, they would provide cheaper housing, faster transportation, enhanced public services, and a better quality of life.
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