The local housing market in Grand Forks will soon be a major topic again with new findings released. I will wait to pass final judgement until research design is clear and we can evaluate methodology. There are a few things we should repeat so they are clear.
A few listeners brought up the issue of housing prices in Grand Forks, which as we all know is just my favorite topic. I thought that it would be important to discuss again for a few reasons. (This is likely a longer post, you might want to get out now.)
Pretty much anytime I give a talk or go on to KNOX radio I get questions about the pace of apartment building in Grand Forks. People believe fundamentals do not justify the extent to which construction currently occurs. I generally agree and think there are a few reasons behind it. This article from the Wall Street Journal seems to indicate the local circumstances may just be part of a larger national trend.
A proper investigation of issues in housing requires a look beyond the price. As I mentioned, price can be indicative of an issue, but is not the source or cause of the issue. In the same way your sore throat may be caused by a sinus infection, if you fail to look for the root cause you may treat the condition inappropriately.
As a topic, the economics of housing in North Dakota creates a significant amount of debate. This debate lacks consistency, ground rules, and facts. Most of the discussion takes place under the umbrella term of “affordable housing.” On numerous occasions I indicated the inadequacy of this term. The first problem is that it seems assumed the mere assertion of an “affordable housing” problem is adequate substitute for actual evidence of a problem. The second is a failure to recognize the differing nature of a potential problem when we are talking about a retired couple, a newly married young couple, or a family of five. An “affordable housing” problem for each of these three groups could look significantly different and require drastically different solutions. How much of a solution do we want? There are times it seems people want a 100% solution, by which I mean everyone that wants a house should have one in their price range. It is not that kind of world! Let’s make sure it is on the block they want too.