Why it seems impossible to buy your first home
. . . housing prices in most of the areas discussed are high due to growth boundaries, services boundaries, and/or zoning restrictions.
San Francisco bay area has a huge amount of land, 4.5 million square acres in total, and all of the development is only on about 0.8 million square acres. But nearly all of the rest of the land is off limits for development. There is apparently between 300-500 thousand square acres which could be developed but which lunatics are attempting to make into land permanently unavailable for development.
The reason San Francisco's property values are insanely high, is lack of land to build more housing, and this is purely a man made catastrophe. Releasing 400,000 acres of land for development would quickly return the San Francisco housing market to rational pricing, but it would also cause the interstellar individual house prices to fall, likely by half or more, and then remain low. And existing homeowners would be apoplectic with that outcome.
Once a growth, or service boundary, or zoning scheme begins to artificially inflate prices, it becomes nearly impossible to reduce the underlying cause of the problem. The existing homeowners want high home prices more than they are interested in housing affordability for others. They make silly arguments about how land must remain off limits for development, promote infill development, and seek to spend all transportation dollars on transit, and not on roadways. This drives congestion through the roof, and causes large increases in costs to the individuals, pollution, and carbon. This is what is commonly defined as "sprawl," it is the natural outcome of "Smart Growth" and "Urban Planning."
How Badger missed this 900 lb gorilla in the living room is beyond me. These prices are seldom natural, and when they are they are nearly always driven by a natural limit on available land which looks like a growth boundary.
These artificial prices will only remain as long as people find reason to live in the area, once that stops, and the people begin leaving, housing prices will decline. Commonly this is pooh poohed, but that is exactly how Detroit went from America's fourth largest, and most prosperous city to the burned out hulk of a city it is today. It underwent this change between 1970, and the present, a mere 45 years.