"In 2003-04, 77 per cent of households had one or more spare bedrooms and nearly all (97 per cent) of couple-only households had one or more spare bedrooms. At least 85 per cent of solo dwellers also had empty bedrooms in their homes. The figures show that many Australians are renting or paying off mortgages on houses that are too roomy for their needs".This proves her notion, she claims, that there is no problem with housing affordability--the problem she argues is not that houses are unaffordable because of land regulation and zoning, but simply that whiney people have eyes bigger than their incomes.
Well, talk about avoiding the evidence.
There are whiney people all over the place; they're everywhere--in every city of the world--but as Demographia's worldwide housing survey shows, housing is not unaffordable in every city of the world, but only in those cities which planners have zoned to hell and back. Cities like most most of those in Australia and New Zealand, which the Demographia survey puts into the "seriously unaffordable" category. (Auckland, for example, ranks as more unaffordable than world cities such as Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Dublin and Melbourne, and more unaffordable even that London's outer suburbs, and New Zealand is rated the fourth most unaffordable housing market, ahead of both the UK and the US. Figures here [pdf].)
Sure, there's plenty of whiney people with four-bedroom tastes and a two-room shoebox income both here elsewhere, but the problem with land regulation as it's presently set up both here and in Australia is that within the 'urban fences' that planners have thrown up around our cities, building four-bedroom houses is effectively what most urban district plans mainly require.
Outside of the CBD (where apartments are permitted), erecting anything in a residential zone other than the four-bedroom norm-- something that is perhaps more innovative or more suited to what people actually need--is just far too difficult and far too time consuming, which is precisely why there are so many many Australians and New Zealanders who are renting or paying off mortgages on houses that are too roomy for their needs: because the market is being restricted by zoning regulations to delivering what the planners make possible rather than what the market wants.
The evidence is clear enough: that runaway regulation is feeding runaway housing costs; that so-called sustainable cities are unaffordable cities; that sprawl is good, but regulation is not; that 'smart growth' is not green; that NZ housing affordability is in crisis, and the dream of home ownership is now just that: a dream. The fact is that the average house in one of NZ's major cities costs from 6.5 to 6.9 times the average income in that city whereas in cities like Houston, Atlanta, Quebec, Dallas and Ottawa it is less than 3.0.
Blaming NZers for complaining about that is somewhat missing the point, don't you think.