OpinionMarkets & Economy

10 housing ethics questions as inventory tightens

  • The U.S. is in the midst of an extraordinary demographic change: cities have forever concentrated population and demand, but something in technology is accelerating the process.

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Let's talk ethics. I don’t mean the Realtor Code of Ethics, although it’s a fine thing -- and having held securities licenses (NASD Series 7 and others) I can testify that the Realtor Code is better than anything on Wall Street. The housing ethics explored below are a series of questions about the consequences of a deepening shortage of housing in and near our urban areas, and even suburban towns. Resort areas have wrestled with housing ethics for a long time, but mostly as a seasonal issue, and regarded the issue as more inconvenience than ethical. Whether a ski resort or beach town, the housing shortage flows from a profound shortage of land but is seasonal. Housing is not hard to find in gorgeous spots in Maine in February, nor in Vail in May mud season. But in-season, every resort struggles to provide housing for poorly paid seasonal workers. These places tend to have relatively few year-round residents who can’t afford to compete with in-season vacationers and r...