There are 32 houses in Monopoly. That's only enough to cover eight properties with four houses each, or two full (three property) monopolies, plus one two property monopoly, either Boardwalk-Park Place, or Mediterranean-Baltic.

So if I own two full monopolies, and cover them with four houses each, there are only eight houses left, meaning that except for either Boardwalk-Park Place, or Mediterranean-Baltic, no third monopoly can go up to the crtical three house level on all three properties.

Does this mean that I should keep four houses each on my two monopolies and NOT upgrade them to hotels? Or if someone wants houses, maybe I should at least force them to give me another Monopoly (or railroads or cash) in order to agree to free up houses by upgrading to a hotel? (This might come into play if another opponent and I both had four houses each on our respective monopolies.)

I remember playing years ago with two house rules:

  1. if someone could cover all their properties with hotels outright they were allowed to do so without buying houses (if they could afford to do so)
  2. if someone had four houses on a property, you could force them to free up houses by paying for their upgrade to a hotel

What I find puzzling is that there are 12 hotels, enough to cover all the properties from four full (three-property) monopolies. And taken together, the hotels and houses can cover six full monopolies, plus a seventh, either Boardwalk-Park Place, or Mediterranean-Baltic, with either a hotel or four houses.

So was it the intent of the game designers that the board be covered this way? Or is a housing shortage just another "monopoly" that creates a further shortage over and above the physical building limits?

  • boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/8049/…
    – Colin D
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 21:11
  • @ColinD: This wasn't a "What are the rules?" question. This was a "what should I do? question. Unless we're talking about house rules, in which case the issue is, "What should the rules be?"
    – Tom Au
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 21:49
  • 1
    my link was simply to a related question. The answer contains information about strategic use of the housing shortage to force opponents to sell hotels outright when no mouse houses are available.
    – Colin D
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 22:42
  • 1
    Note that if demand for houses exceeds supply at a moment in time, they go up for auction according to the standard rules. This makes it advantageous to own the pricier monopoly, as one will get a better return on the inflated acquisition price. Many play in error, allowing the phasing player to pick up houses at their standard price in such situations. This impacts the ability to bargain with house availability. Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 23:03
  • @PieterGeerkens do you have a rules citation for that? I know different versions/editions of the game vary on this rule.
    – Colin D
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 23:11

3 Answers 3


From the Official Rules of Monopoly (my emphasis):

The bank has a fixed supply of 32 houses and 12 hotels. If more players decide to build more houses at the same time than there are houses in the bank, the houses are auctioned off one at a time to the highest bidder. This rule favors the owners of expensive properties, for which the houses cost more in the first place, because the auction price of a house is not tied to the value of the property on which it will be placed. It is not possible to buy more houses than there is available in the bank. This could stop people buying hotels in the future!

and here:

When the Bank has no houses to sell, players wishing to build must wait for some player to return or sell their houses to the Bank before building. If there are a limited number of houses and hotels available and two or more players wish to buy more than the Bank has, the houses or hotels must be sold at auction to the highest bidder.

Update: - Interpretation and application

I see the purchase of hotels in Monopoly as an endgame tactic, not a mid-game tactic. Similar to a running-game double in backgammon by the leader, which is meant not to increase the stakes but to eliminate the opportunity for the opponent to get lucky and squeak out a win. The purchase of hotels is properly done when one is already firmly in the lead, and thus that the housing shortage period of the game (a possible definition of the mid-game period actually) is already past.

One then buys hotels because opponents do not actually have enough money to purchase the released assets. By further increasing one's rents one can increase the pain of each landing on your property, and reduce the opponents' opportunity to rebuild a cash stock.

  • 4
    One reason for upgrading to hotels is the "You are assessed for street repairs – $40 per house – $115 per hotel" Community Chest card. It costs $45 less to repair a hotel than 4 houses. Because Community Chest cards are not shuffled during the game, then you know whether this card is likely to be drawn.
    – user10232
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 10:52
  • Please clarify that quoted rule's precondition. If a player does not have the current turn, but desires more houses when it will be their turn, does that count as them "deciding to build"? If so, how does the Bank learn of that desire? On the other hand, if the current player and another would each like 3 houses, and the Bank has only 3, may the current player buy those last 3 at market rate with no auction?
    – Rosie F
    Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 6:53
  • @RosieF: New questions should be asked in a New Question, not in a comment. Commented Apr 22, 2022 at 21:30
  • I am asking for clarification of part of this very answer.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Apr 23, 2022 at 4:47

In the original version of the game hotels weren't even a thing. That was added later by other people. The main tactic in that version of the game was to deliberately create a housing shortage, because that's how capitalism works irl. In fact, this game was created by a socialist woman for the sole purpose of showing how unjust unrestrained capitalism can be.

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    Welcome to the site. An upvote for a good answer, although I did edit your comment to take out the "slang."
    – Tom Au
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 14:39
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    I've never been a fan of Monopoly, but I've realized in the last few years that my displeasure with the game was caused by all the house rules my family and friends have added to the game in the past. House rules, like putting all money in "Free Parking" instead of the bank, causes the game to be so much longer and painful. So now I'm curious to play the game RAW, and your comment makes me want to go further. Can you play this original version that you describe with a base set of Monopoly? If so, where can I find the rules?
    – John
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 14:43
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    Are you referring to The Landlord's Game? Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 14:11

Yes. It's a deliberate choice, and the rules are such that if there are no houses available you cannot upgrade to hotels - so that it is a perfectly valid tactic to buy 3-4 houses for all your properties and thus prevent opponents from getting hotels. In fact, if I remember correctly, 3 houses is about the point where you get maximum returns relative to money spent for most properties.

  • 3
    'starvation strategy'
    – smci
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 21:25

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