Viewpoint: Skeptical of Montana Housing Task Force’s view of ‘filtering’
I am concerned that the concept of "housing filtering" is poorly understood by the Montana Housing Task Force.
As a reminder to readers... "Filtering occurs when someone builds a $1 million home and sells their $600,000 home. Someone else sells their $250,000 home to buy that $600,000 home, and so on. In the end, an affordable home goes on the market, providing housing to one more family looking to get started."
The notion that new, usually more expensive homes can open up lower-priced housing is based on multiple assumptions that these new home buyers are: 1) already home-owners, 2) already local residents, 3) can afford a more expensive home, and 4) will sell their current home.
If all four are true, then yes, "housing filtering" is absolutely one strategy to increase the availability of lower-priced homes. However, as we have seen in Missoula, across the state, and throughout the Mountain West, we are experiencing a significant influx of out-of-state migration.
So I ask my fellow citizens and my representatives, take a hard look and ask yourselves, do you truly believe that "housing filtering" will work in Montana? Are these new homes actually moving local residents into more expensive homes, thus allowing our workforce to finally be able to buy homes and live where they work?
Further, the report cited by Hertz and other members of the Housing Task Force should be scrutinized. First, the analysis specifically examines regional effects of new housing construction which may or may not manifest at a local level (i.e., Missoula).
"In addition, while I focus on regional effects, new buildings could have very different effects on their immediate area, where they may change amenities or household composition in ways that affect prices. There is little existing direct evidence on either the price effects or the local effects of new construction..." (Mast, 2019, page 25).
Finally, this report has not undergone a thorough peer-review process, it is only a working paper meant to generate discussion. These finding should not be used to establish policy.