空中楼阁

过去六个月以来,人们的注意力和担忧从美国巨大的贸易赤字转到了其一路高歌猛进的不动产市场和房产泡沫上。造成房价高企,且持续攀升的原因当中至少有两个是广为人知的。但明显过热的市场是否能够降温而又不至于让美国及其世界主要贸易伙伴陷入经济恐慌则仍然是个未知数。

美国房地产市场的繁荣首先是由于低利率。这意味着人们能够以适中的月供款额,就向银行借到大笔的按揭贷款。低利率增强了人们的还款能力,从而拉动了需求。在需求高涨而房屋供应量—至少在短期内—固定的情况下,房价自然走高。

其次,在过去70年里人们可以驾车在半小时或更少的时间里到达一个典型都市区内任何地点的情况已不复存在。而这一阶段是以汽车成为大众消费品为开端的。在汽车进入千家万户之前,地价是由土地所在位置和距离市中心或当地火车站的远近等溢价因素来决定的。

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