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National Association of Realtors; Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research and Metropolitan Institute


Despite historically low interest rates, organizations across the nation have become increasingly concerned about the impacts of regulatory constraints and anti-growth sentiments on the availability and cost of housing. This concern is by no means limited to a few “high cost” areas like Boston and San Francisco. It can also be found in Iowa City, where new single-family houses were recently selling from $150,000 to $375,000 (prices readily considered affordable in many larger metropolitan areas) and even in rural areas where spill-over growth and “drive to qualify” solve the commuter’s affordability problem while creating unforeseen affordability problems for the rural native.

Today the residents of communities where jobs and population are expanding do not automatically assume that growth is good. Quite the contrary, they raise a skeptical eyebrow and demand “positive” growth. Developers must justify their proposals to the public (particularly neighbors to their developments) throughout zoning applications and subdivision reviews. With inadequate supplies of land zoned at densities to support affordable housing, opponents of development can place substantial pressure on public officials to deny the required zoning or to significantly modify the development, making it more expensive and possibly unfeasible. Neighbors are rarely opposed to development in general, just the specific development near them, a sentiment dubbed “Not in My Back Yard” or NIMBY. Similarly, local public officials are rarely “anti-growth” but want to be sure that new development will have a positive fiscal impact on local government. Since the tax revenue streams associated with residential development are complex and only partially captured by the locality, the presumed (or even estimated) fiscal impact of residential development is often negative.


Cities and towns – Growth; City planning; Housing – Prices; Sustainable urban development


Civic and Community Engagement | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Real Estate | Social Policy | Urban Studies and Planning