Oversupply in the suburbs
About 50 percent of Americans actually do want that configuration. But if we’ve built 80 percent of our housing that way, that’s the definition of oversupply. The other 50 percent of Americans want walkable urban arrangements and yet that’s just 20 percent of the housing stock.
Asked by the Infrastructurist when he thought supply and demand would get back into balance, Leinberger said: "Upwards of 30 years."
He means overall supply, not just what's on the market. But that did get me curious about the number of homes on the market vs. sales in the various local jurisdictions. So I checked January figures from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems to see what was what.
The Baltimore-area county with the highest number of unsold homes last month -- 23 for every sold one -- was Carroll, which certainly does have a lot of the low-density developments Leinberger is talking about. On the other hand, Howard -- home to urbanish Columbia but also many McMansions -- was lowest, with 13 unsold homes per sale.
Baltimore County had 15 unsold homes per sale last month. Baltimore City, Anne Arundel and Harford all had about 19.
The thing is, all the 'burbs around here have some rural spots, some swaths of big-house-big-lot and some more urban places. What I really needed to look at was a truly exurban place. So I checked Queen Anne's, across the Bay Bridge.
Forty-four unsold homes for every home that sold last month.
January's never a big month for home sales, but: Ouch.
Leinberger does think suburbs can adapt. If you like them as is, what appeals to you? If you don't, what would you change? And do you agree or disagree with his argument?