Besides record low inventory levels and increasing lack of affordability for buyers? Turns out it's even more depressing than that.
Americans are finding themselves “increasingly locked into places that they wish to escape”. As residential mobility has gone down, "so have levels of happiness, fairness, and trust among Americans.” But how exactly could a decline in mobility lead to such bleak outcomes?
When people move less, it affects culture. Staying in one place leads to an increased aversion to risk, suspicion of outsiders, and cynicism. Another way to frame it is comparing two different types of society, one where people move a lot versus one where they don’t. A “mobile society” is often linked to optimism and tolerance while a “stable society” is linked to security and a strong sense of difference between groups of people. As America has shifted towards the latter, this could explain much of what has happened to America’s political system in recent decades.
We’ve become a less mobile society for many reasons—low income workers don’t have the financial freedom to move, many jobs require occupational licenses that are difficult to transfer across state lines, taxes and housing costs differ too greatly depending on geographical area, etc. While stability isn’t necessarily a bad thing, this could all lead to Americans growing up in a country where freedom of movement belongs only to the rich.
Potential solution? Taking steps that would allow more mobility like loosening zoning restrictions that leads to increased construction and neighborhood change in the places that people want to move to. Might be costly but definitely worth it.
All things real estate.