One reason that is not talked about in the context of housing affordability is the averaged sized home. The Bay Area and in fact all of California are dotted with post WWII housing tracts. My wife and I live in a 1959 1400 sq. ft. ranch style home that the owner paid $12,500 new, that she raised a family of five in. The average sized home in 1950 was around 900 square feet, today it’s around 2600 square feet despite the shrinking households. There is no doubt in my mind that buyers today would embrace smaller, more affordable homes like previous generations of Americans for the opportunity to get on the housing ladder, build equity, and move up to that larger home in time.

Granted, back then land was “cheap” and an entire southern California city, Lakewood was famously built full of 2 bedroom and three bedroom 1 bath stucco homes after the war for $8000-$12,000 that your average factory worker returning from the war on the GI bill could afford.

We will never see homes that cheap but it would be nice to think creatively to give your “average” middle class earner or essential worker the opportunity to buy a home in the city they work in, like previous generations had, consider smaller homes on smaller lots with the trade off being higher density but a lower sales price, for the opportunity to get onto the housing ladder….look for solutions to high land, development and entitlement costs, and smaller homes could fit into that picture.

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