Buying or renting in the Seattle area is getting ever more pricey? But can anything be done? You get to have your say.

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May’s median price of a house sold in King County was $480,942, almost 9 percent higher than a year earlier. In Seattle, the increase was 14 percent to $559,950. Not only that, but the inventory shrank by 37 percent.

The value of residential real estate here remains below its 2007 peak, as tracked by S&P/Case-Shiller. Seattle is less expensive than almost any other West Coast city with a robust, technology-driven economy. The median would have meant about $219,000 in 1985. Still, this ain’t grandma’s Seattle, or even the one of a few years ago.

Every economic event creates winners and losers. In this case, the winners are sellers (provided they can afford another place here). Buyers, not so much. And looking at high rent prices, those who choose not to buy — or can’t — don’t have it much easier. Although when people say “affordable housing,” I say “the companion problem is stagnant and falling wages.”

I’m not sure this can be “fixed” at the local level short of a recession. Seattle is in demand and that will likely grow as climate change makes the Southwest less hospitable. Market forces are constrained by limited land, zoning restrictions (usually widely supported) and NIMBYs, among other things.

Are there intelligent responses? In my experience, rent control is a disincentive for new housing and an incentive for corruption, but some here support that. As for the housing market, I think it will take years to sort out (again, short of a recession, but that never slowed prices in Silicon Valley for long). It’s critical for Seattle to build a transit system to match its needs; this would allow people to commute efficiently from more affordable outlying areas. Otherwise I invite your ideas in the comments field.

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This Week’s Links:

America’s jobs gap: 3.6 million | The Hamilton Project

Solid May jobs report — but strong dollar hurts manufacturing | Jared Bernstein

The many flavors of unemployment | FRED blog

China’s pursuit of a new economic world order | Project Syndicate

What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership really all about? | Simon Johnson

No slowdown in global warming (quite the opposite) | ThinkProgress

Secular stagnation: Time for one-armed policy to be over | CEPR

IMF: Stop obsessing over debt and watch growth flourish | Economist’s View


Today’s Econ Haiku:

China’s hacker might

You see why the Battlestar

Was off the network


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