Westnut could only muster blaming prosperity for the high prices and, of course, did not have a solution. He should have gone the extra step and asked a non-political economist why real estate prices are so high. The answer would have focused on supply and demand.
In fact, recent reports show demand for real estate in Seattle is waning, even while prices continue to rise. Supply, on the other hand, is severely restricted. Supply restrictions are due in part to the simply fact that large cities just run out of space. But, the more important reason is that Mayor Nickels and the Seattle Silly Council are interested in only two types of real estate development.
The first involves condos that are affordable only to the wealthy or to baby boomers nearing retirement or already retired. People that are 50 or older have years of equity building under their belts, started when the real price of a home was not nearly so high, and so they can afford a condo for $1 million or even more. Low income people form the second group, which will have housing subsidized by permitting fees on those luxury condos. Current development plans ensure that those pesky middle class voters, who are skeptical of new taxes and demand performance from public schools, will not grow and will likely shrink.
So, in one group, you have generally reliable voters for Democrats. In the other, you have a dependent class that also reliably votes for Democrats. Among all the proclamations of the political mafia that runs the city, there is nairy a mention of affordability for middle and working class families. In other words, the Seattle real estate market is driven by political imperatives.