This story was originally published in Builder.

What's holding housing back right now?

If you or your company makes a living designing, developing, engineering, and building homes for people today, your answer might include the following:

  • Labor
  • Land
  • Loans

For these are resources critical to adding or improving home-stock, and they are each, in some form or fashion, constrained. One million fewer skilled and willing construction workers available for job sites today than 10 years ago is a constraint. Lots that cost more, take more time to permit and develop, and come laden with a lengthy menu of local and non-local government fees certainly suppresses growth. And, when it comes down to it, the rising cost of money for people who need to borrow it to either buy homes or develop and build them exerts a heavy drag as well.

Now, if you or your organization take a step back and look at inertial, paralyzing, and debilitating forces killing housing's dynamism from a business assessment, analytical, or academic standpoint, you might use three other terms to characterize what's holding housing back:

  • Productivity
  • Policy
  • Prices

Each of these terms carries a double-helix of cause and effect. A failure to improve productivity means economic value creation can't keep pace with costs; policy overreach stifles businesses' willingness to invest; and market price asymmetry means more people, and a greater percentage of people, are sidelined by a housing recovery that doesn't include them.

Still, if you or your company makes a living doing something else altogether, say, making getting from one place to another easier, less time consuming, and less expensive or adding to helpful services that can be performed by a personal digital assistant, your response to the question of what's holding housing back might be different. You might say:

  • Affordability
  • Talent
  • Legacy

For each of these terms expresses a measure, either of economic imbalance between household means and household expense, or of organizational wherewithal to overcome impediments, or of past successes weighing on future viability. Each term defines a solid distance from here--where housing is held back by gravity, regulatory shackles, and 100-year-old workflows--to there, where housing meets unmet social and economic needs, creates communities of opportunity, and repairs the fabric, balance, and harmony between people and their world.

And, mind you, creates economically profitable, regenerative value for people and companies at the same time.

When we look back, years from now, which short list of reasons for housing's tepid, iffy, slow recovery trajectory will ring truer?

Why wait years to find out?

Whichever three terms apply as root causes or merely symptoms, the challenge underlying each is huge. Some would say that each little stack of explanations for housing's tentative, marginal, choppy, clawing growth rate today amounts to irreversible, virtually impossible constraints to undo or get around or over.

  • "It's the way things are."
  • "It's how we've always done it."
  • "We've tried that before; it doesn't work."

Many, many intelligent, clever, wise, experienced, and resourceful minds use those very terms to describe the inevitability, intractability, and the unavoidabilty of the dead-weights holding housing back right now, and the only course of action to take in response, which is to resort to the tried-and-true, the known, the familiar, the proven as the time-tested path to success.

In the minds of these same intelligent, clever, wise, experienced, and resourceful people--many of them business leaders among housing's most important organizations--the thought of overcoming and solving for those dead-weight challenges is crazy. Not to mention an actual solution.

Crazy, crazy, crazy to think any one of these challenges is a solvable one?

We don't believe so.

We believe that genius, partnering, and purpose can and will make each of those tall, thick, daunting barriers penetrable, scale-able, irrelevant.

This is why we're investing in building Hive, a community whose goal is to incubate, nurture, and celebrate genius, partnering, and purpose that's going on now in pockets and niches of housing's trillion-dollar ecosystem. Join us, Dec. 6-7, at Los Angeles' new Intercontinental for an event like no other at a moment where no conversation about housing matters more.

This is why we're tapping a most unusual, bold, and, perhaps, unconventional team of experts, business leaders, and experts to lead a conversation that housing simply must have, which is how to take each of those three stacks of explanations to what's holding housing back and solve for them.

Maura McCarthy
Maura McCarthy

This is why, on the subject of business strategy, we've called on off-site design, development, engineering, and construction pioneer Maura McCarthy, who co-founded Blu Homes, which has gone far toward re-mapping assumptions as to the quality, the value, the scale-ability, and the potential efficiency gains from the controlled-space assembly of homes and their kit of parts.

James Chung
James Chung

This is why, on the topic of intelligence into what makes geographies economically valuable, we're calling on James Chung, who's taking the whole of relational data around real estate investment, economic trends, migration pushes and pulls, and valuation, and asking it to come to new, entirely different, far more helpful conclusions and indications. At the end of the day, Chung is responding to the need for housing and real estate's data to include more households in housing's recovery and growth.

Carlo Ratti
Carlo Ratti

This is why, in the dimension and discipline of design, we're channeling Carlo Ratti, one of the most original minds, voices, and designers working on how we humans relate to, learn from, and influence the very space we live in. The question of how we want to, need to, and might live improved lives in our homes and communities speaks ultimately to value creation, and Carlo will lead that conversation this year at Hive.

Eve Picker
Eve Picker

This is why, in the area of capital structure and financial investment, we've invited housing crowd-funding game-changer Eve Picker to help reset the bar of ambition around which real estate and community projects can build a capital stack of support, and creative new streams and mechanisms for accessing those investment pools.

Jason McLennan
Jason McLennan

This is why, in the area of building technology and product development, we've enlisted the guidance and direction of Jason McLennan, founder/creator of the Living Building Challenge, who's become a globally-known bard, provocateur, and evidence-based crusader for science, social impact, and profit-with-a-purpose approaches to engineering, product development, and building technology. Jason will lead a conversation about how trusting, epic collaboration can lead to healthier, more efficient, more resilient, and more profitable construction and community design.

What's more, we've asked two giants from outside housing's direct realms of supply, demand, productivity, profit, opportunity, challenge, and risk equation, to join us, and help open our minds about just how crazy it may be to entertain trying to solve for those great challenges mentioned above. AOL founder and start-up champion Steve Case will help paint a picture of how technology can and will transform our business and economic models for housing. And Chip Conley, head of global hospitality and strategy, Airbnb, will address our theme: Trust and Transformation: How Innovation Works, in a story that shows how people's trust in one another, to the point where strangers would invite strangers to stay in their homes, changed our society, business, and industry sectors wholesale.

Venture capital investor Henry Doss cites Ernest Hemingway here:

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

Doss writes further:

As trust was to liquidity in 16th century England, so trust is to efficiency in 21st century innovation ecosystems.

If housing can solve for efficiency, it can solve for all nine of those challenges noted above. And it will. Space at Hive is limited, so register for Hive here now.

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