How much of the housing bubble is due to the fact that America is overbuilt?
I have never seen discussions of housing units per capita. I do see a surprising number of unoccupied houses, though. I suspect it is much too high.
(There are cases where extended families need to reduce costs and would tolerate moving from two houses to one (ironically, often adding to demand for gasoline) but in the home ownership culture that prevails here end up stuck with an albatross mortgage. In other countries where rental still affords a civilized lifestyle, these liabilities would more frequently accrue to large corporate or government property holders. )
I once had a condo salesman tell me with a straight face that "property values never go down" and reassert it calmly when challenged. If professionals in real estate really believed this in America, it is little wonder that there is a housing bubble. On this view it has rather little to do with banking practices, and much to do with some stupidly simplistic extrapolations. If the banks were overextended they merely did us a favor by ending this nonsense sooner than it might otherwise have occurred.
Unlike extra tulips or extra dot-coms, though, extra housing units take a very long time to go away. Anyway it now stands to reason that we need to loosen immigration and tourism visas and in general stop humiliating people at the border, especially if they have some money. I wonder how long it will take to figure that out.