[VIEWPOINT] We need to keep building houses, even if no one wants to buy

By Conor Dougherty | Ben Casselman

The United States has a deep, decades-old housing shortage. Also, at the moment, homebuilders across the country are pulling back on development because they can’t sell enough homes.

How can both of these things be true? That riddle is at the heart of the boom-bust nature of housing, where an excess of regulation and the mixed incentives of the market mean there is never a supply that lines up with demand. One way or the other, solving it will require more building during downturns, and, most likely, some sort of public program to subsidize it.

Consider what the past few months have visited on Hayden Homes, a regional homebuilder that is based in Redmond, Ore., and builds about 2,000 houses a year throughout the Pacific Northwest. At the beginning of the year, Hayden’s biggest problem, shared by almost every other U.S. homebuilder, was figuring out how to supply enough houses for everyone who wanted one.


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