Add to the never-ending List of Things That Caused the Housing Market Collapse: zoning. Specifically, zoning for too many large, expensive, single-family homes.
That kind of policy, according to a paper in the journal Housing Policy Debate, left people who wanted to live in an area with a choice of either living elsewhere or being lured by the promise of low/no payments and the idea that they could refinance when their ARMs reset.
Naturally, they chose the latter, and the data show the result: Communities zoned for those larger homes were much more likely to see foreclosures. (And that, of course, drove down property values, making it harder for people there to refinance..)
"What we were trying to see was, whether after controlling for those factors, if there is a structural link, or a connection between the restrictiveness of the zoning and the risk of foreclosure," [author Arnab Chakraborty, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Illinois] said. "We found that the higher the proportion of single-family detached housing, the more mortgages are entering foreclosure."
You can read more about the study by clicking here for the news article.