Ratings for Major Urban Markets
Australia Canada Republic of Ireland
New Zealand United Kingdom United States
(Data for 3rd Quarter 2007)
By Dr. Donald Brash
Once again, the Demographia survey leads inevitably to one clear conclusion: the affordability of
housing is overwhelmingly a function of just one thing, the extent to which governments place
artificial restrictions on the supply of residential land.
This is most strikingly shown by U.S. experience. In a
country with considerable population mobility and
common interest rates, there are cities such as Pittsburgh,
Atlanta and Houston where housing is eminently
affordable, with median house prices three times or less the
median household income in those cities, and other cities
such as New York and Los Angeles where the Median
Multiple is from 7 to over 11.
And the one factor which clearly separates all of the urban
areas with high Median Multiples from all those with low
Median Multiples is the severity of the artificial restraints on
the availability of land for residential building.
Australia is perhaps the least densely populated major
country in the world, but state governments there have
contrived to drive land prices in major urban areas to very
high levels, with the result that in that country housing in
major state capitals has become severely unaffordable, with
Median Multiples of eight in Sydney and seven in Melbourne.
Despite all the evidence, governments continue to pretend that they are powerless to make housing
more affordable or, worse still, implement futile interventions which make the situation worse, as
the New Zealand government is proposing for this year.
We all owe Wendell Cox and Hugh Pavletich a huge debt of gratitude for making the pathway to
affordable housing abundantly clear: remove Metropolitan Urban Limits (urban growth boundaries)
and other artificial restraints on the availability of resi