Research on Housing Affordability, Warrants for Electronic Information, and Loans

New Mercatus research from the week of Jan 21-27

Allowing Accessory Dwelling Units Would Contribute to Housing Affordability in Virginia and Preempting Bans on Duplexes Can Improve Housing Affordability through Property Rights

Emily Hamilton | State Testimony

In both her state testimonies on HB 151, research fellow Emily Hamilton covers the problem of housing affordability in Virginia and the role that local land use regulations play in constraining housing supply and causing high and rising house prices. She explores in-depth solutions that would allow the housing market to better respond to increasing demand and improve affordability without additional subsidies. 

Land use regulations limit property owners’ right to build housing and drive up housing costs. Allowing accessory dwelling units and duplexes to be built where only single-family homes are currently allowed has the potential to improve affordability and increase the supply of housing in locations where demand for housing is high.

Fewer Restrictions on Lending Can Make Housing More Affordable

Kevin Erdmann | Public Comment

Visiting fellow Kevin Erdmann recently submitted a public comment to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regarding the elimination of regulatory barriers to affordable housing. Erdmann discusses two improvements which would increase access to homeownership in American housing markets: the reduction of barriers to new supply in cities with ample job opportunities so that Americans can move there affordably, and the reduction of barriers to mortgage lending that have cut off building in the cities where Americans can live affordably. Both of these barriers have prevented American households from engaging in reasonable economic activity. 

Erdmann delves in on why these barriers exist and how to adjust them and illustrates this dilemma with examples from urban zoning laws and excessive barriers in American cities, arguing that the removal of these barriers can produce unmitigated positives. 

Considering a 21st-Century Approach to Warrant Requirements for Electronic Information

Jennifer Huddleston | State Testimony

In her recent testimony before the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Jennifer Huddleston discussed search and seizures involving electronic information. 

Huddleston suggested that clarifying requirements for government to obtain access to electronic information can be an appropriate role for states in protecting civil liberties. Additionally, establishing statutory requirements for access by the government to electronic information reflects both the original intentions of protections from search and seizure and limits disruption of innovation by preventing abuses while still enabling justified uses of technology. Huddleston also states the importance of avoiding potential spillover effects beyond the context of searches and seizures as well as avoiding unnecessarily burdening the government’s use of widely available technologies. 

Establishment of the framework for government access to electronic data is an opportunity for states to act as a leader and provide greater clarity for consumers, innovators, and government actors. 

Comment for the Comptroller of the Currency’s Proposed Rule regarding Permissible Interest on Loans That Are Sold, Assigned, or Otherwise Transferred

Brian Knight and Trace Mitchell | Public Comment

Senior research fellow Brian Knight and research associate Trace Mitchell submitted a comment to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regarding their proposal on loans that are sold, assigned, or otherwise transferred by national banks and savings associations. The comment expands on the facets of the proposal and seeks to help the OCC provide clarity to banks and credit markets regarding the validity of legal loans that are sold or transferred to third parties after their creation.