March 21, 2018

Preferential access to bank credit for those buying houses have also turned houses in attractive investments, and so a house is no longer just a house

Sir, I refer to Sarah O’Connor’s “Cities only work if they accommodate rich and poor” March 21.

She is correct although it would be more precise saying that cities only work if they accommodate all those workers required to make a city work.

Here is my take on this issue.

By politicians and regulators giving so much preference to the purchase of houses, the prices of houses have been inflated beyond reflecting the need of houses, and so have also turned houses into attractive investments. That has created a financial disequilibrium because most workers who would anyhow struggle to pay for just houses, will find it impossible to service mortgages that also reflect the value of investment assets.

Most politicians would naturally want to be seen as helping people buy affordable houses, but they do wrong in that. What they should do is to help people to be able to afford housing, something which is absolutely not the same thing.

Before we clear out this distortion, our cities will suffer from what O’Connor’s describes. Alternatively, current house asset owners, might be required to start building houses where they allow the indispensable workers to live at a reduced rate… something that could affect the value of their houses.

In many places that are too distant for the firefighters to arrive in time, we have already heard of building houses in order to provide homes close by to these.

PS. For the purpose of the capital requirements for banks regulators have risk weighted  residential mortgages with 35% and loans to entrepreneurs with 100%, which means bank can leverage much more with residential mortgages than with loans to entrepreneurs, which means banks earn much higher expected risk adjusted return on equity with residential mortgages than with loans to entrepreneurs, which mean we will end up sitting in houses without the jobs that could provide the income to service mortgages or utilities.

PS. How much of current house prices is the direct result of easy financing? I ask because it would be interesting to know how much we are financing with easy financing of houses the easy financing of houses.