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A story about oranges

A friend of mine circulated this tweet storm over the weekend. It is an explanation of how NYC’s housing market works using the example of oranges. The author ends by saying that, “it is a parody and an exaggeration, but I promise you it’s not much of one.”

The crux of this story about oranges is that if you don’t deliver enough to meet market demand, you’re going to invariably run into a problem of affordability. If people really want oranges, they are going to bid up the price of whatever oranges they can get their hands on. The same is true for housing.

But there are, of course, some obvious differences between homes and oranges. People don’t live in oranges. And I would imagine that there are other ways to get your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

As far as I know, people also don’t buy oranges with the hope that they can derive a rental income stream and/or that they will be worth more tomorrow. And so I’m sure that many of you will be quick to point out that it is perhaps the speculative nature of housing that makes it different from most oranges.

Still, there’s no denying that, in most cities around the world, we do a lot to make it exceedingly difficult to build new housing. We constrain supply — such that we perpetually underserve the market — and then we wonder why prices continue to rise.

Disagree with this take? Let me know in the comment section below.

1 Comment so far

  1. 400wellingtonguy

    It’s an artificial constraint on supply because housing has been institutionally created as an investment rather than a basic human right or need for your family. Nothing will ever change until this is resolved.


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