Do Minimum-Lot-Size Regulations Limit Housing Supply in Texas?

25 Pages Posted: 1 May 2019 Last revised: 7 May 2019

See all articles by M. Nolan Gray

M. Nolan Gray


Salim Furth

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: May 1, 2019


Minimum lot sizes regulate the density of housing in almost all American munici- palities. Our findings suggest that even moderate lot size minimums in rapidly growing Texas suburbs constrain density. Market outcomes are consistent with strong demand for single-family detached housing units built on lots of 5,000 to 7,000 square feet, a lot size rarely allowed by local zoning laws. The four suburban cities we examine depart frequently from their written zoning codes in order to offer such lots, approving noncompliant subdivisions and making extensive use of customized regulation for planned unit developments. Scholars agree that large- lot zoning as practiced in exclusionary coastal jurisdictions is a binding constraint on density. We go further: even modest minimum lot sizes in automobile-oriented suburbs are less dense than Americans want.

Keywords: zoning, subdivision regulation, suburban development, lot size, mini- mum lot size, minimum lot area, housing

JEL Classification: R380, R140, R310

Suggested Citation

Gray, M. Nolan and Furth, Salim, Do Minimum-Lot-Size Regulations Limit Housing Supply in Texas? (May 1, 2019). Mercatus Research Paper , Available at SSRN: or

M. Nolan Gray

Independent ( email )

Salim Furth (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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