Homeownership

In that fake constitution I've been working on, I'm adding a clause saying the government is required not to create any legal structures that incentivize unnecessary land ownership.  This includes things like guaranteeing artificially cheap mortgages, selling off government property that consists mainly of open space or woods to owners that might intend to pave it or chop it down, or sell it to someone who'll pave it or chop it down, when there's perfectly good abandoned property to knock over and build on all over the place. The Atlantic Cities has an article up, Why the U.S. Needs to Fall Out Of Love With Homeownership, that offers a whole bunch of supporting pieces of information for my case:

[...]numerous studies have found that excessive homeownership significantly distorts the economy, diverting investment away from much more needed areas like technology and knowledge.

Homeownership continues to make sense for many Americans. But for those whose income is limited or who are still building their careers, a house can be an anchor than limits their ability to move to where jobs are.

And as Yale economist Robert Shiller has noted, the real rate of return to owning a home has been close to zero for the past century, substantially less than the stock market. "Housing traditionally is not viewed as a great investment," he added. "It takes maintenance, it depreciates, it goes out of style."

Of course, I’m by no means advocating that we put an end to homeownership altogether and become a nation of renters. My hunch is a homeownership rate of between 50 and 60 percent is just about right; and that’s not too far from where the U.S. is now. But we can’t hide from the fact that excessive levels of homeownership — either among nations or metros — seem to be associated with lower levels of innovation, productivity and economic development.

Emphasis mine.  And that's just one of the many good bits.  And there are also graphs.