The housing problem that tech isn’t solving — yet
A lack of housing supply to meet changing demand is causing an inventory crunch.
This story is part of Protocol's Manual, "Proptech's big moment." Read more here.
For years, economists and policymakers have fretted about the ability of households to buy homes. But as prices have soared, interest rates have dropped, keeping affordability relatively stable.
Perhaps a bigger issue than affordability is the underlying scarcity. The pandemic drove some homeowners to upgrade their housing, even as it kinked supply chains and tightened labor markets for builders and contractors. Inventories shrank to unprecedented lows, putting new upward pressure on home prices.
It’s not clear if iBuyers are playing any role in the shortage; if anything, their goal is to move inventory, not hold on to homes. The real problem is structural and political, stemming from decades of bad land-use and zoning policy, a recent White House study concluded.
Tech may not have caused the availability crisis, but there’s a huge opportunity if it can find a role in solving it.