Tuesday, October 28, 2008

buy land?

This really seems like a golden opportunity to do something about sprawl. Land is cheap. Sprawl causes increased driving and pollution, undermines the fiscal health of towns and cities, and undermines the property value of existing homes. Buying exurban land would address all these very important issues, and address falling home prices at the same time.

The only possible argument in opposition is that increasing land prices would hurt the new home construction industry. But homebuilders are not buying land in this environment. They would much prefer to sell it. If any homebuilders holding land are recapitalized with money instead, and undeveloped land was being bought at above market rates by land banks backed by the federal government, the homebuilders would turn their attention to existing homes, to buy and improve. A fine, non-polluting activity, and one that would help out the owners of those existing homes, a large group of people who have been getting socked with declining equity for about 4 years. I don't think the banks would mind seeing a rise in home prices either.