Manning’s Statement for Housing Attainability Conference on Augt 25, 2020
The Home Builders Association is constantly engaged in all kinds of issues on the local, state, and national levels. At the heart of everything , the HBA stands for ONE credo. That is that home ownership should be affordable and attainable for as many folks as possible.
If you cut way down into any position that the HBA is advocating for, whether it is a soft wood lumber treaty with Canada; a density requirement in a zoning ordinance, or a tax issue at the state level; what you will find at the core is quality affordable, attainable housing.
My day job as a home builder uniquely qualifies me for my political position as Chairman of the Spartanburg County Council, where I am not bashful about using my bully pulpit to advocate for attainable housing. There are many reasons that support my positions and bring weight to my arguments. Let’s start with families.
Home ownership strengthens families by providing stability, and importantly ownership is the first step toward intergenerational wealth transfer. Home ownership builds stable and sustainable families.
How about jobs? We know that houses are where jobs go to sleep at night. Job creation is crucial to job recruitment . Lack of affordability can affect a community in negative ways including causing the folks who live and work in a community to have to make long commutes in search of affordable shelter. (con
The result is more traffic and burden to our roads infrastructure. So you see , housing and specifically attainable housing should be very important to all public policy makers.
I mentioned my day job earlier. I make my living building market rate affordable housing, where often sales price is more important than the kitchen, main bathroom, or floor plan. To make a living building at the bottom of the price spectrum, I have to be fanatical about controlling all of my costs. Every subcontractor, every 2 x 4, every yard of concrete, must be carefully measured and waste cannot be permitted. I am often carrying ½ a bundle of shingle from one house to another to be sure it is used. These are the kinds of costs that I can control. The hitch is that many of my costs are out of my control. As we heard earlier, regulations, fees, and taxes, add as much as $3,100 to the cost of a house.
Decisions over land use—what types of housing can be built in which locations—are largely made by state and local governments. One of the most common zoning laws that drives up housing costs is restricting the Multi-family housing. Because multi-family use less land per housing unit than single-family homes, they are the most affordable form of housing. Yet communities across the United States have effectively Banned them from being built in most neighborhoods—even large cities like Los Angeles and Seattle prohibit apartments on 75 percent of land. Other zoning tools, like caps on building height, minimum lot sizes, and parking requirements,also increase the cost of housing. The development process itself has become increasingly long, complicated, and risky over the past 20 years—all factors that drive up the cost of newly built housing and limit the market’s ability to respond to demand.
But federal policies also influence the cost of construction through several channels. Construction materials such as lumber and steel are subject to U.S. tariffs and trade policy. Immigration policy affects the availability of workers; about one-quarter of construction workers are foreign born. The cost and availability of mortgage loans depends on monetary policy set by the Federal Reserve, as well as lending guidelines set by public and quasi-public agencies (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration).
A properly functioning housing market responds to changes in housing demand, in terms of the number, location and types of units needed. But in many communities, that isn’t happening. Our collective inability — and sometimes unwillingness — to remove these local impediments to housing has the obvious effect of squeezing out working- and middle-class families, driving up transportation costs as homes get pushed farther from core job centers, straining local government infrastructure, exacerbating income inequality and limiting our ability to create sustainable communities with long-term economic upward mobility for all residents.
So a final thought that I want to leave everyone with….The HBA has a neat little tool called the priced out matric. It is a study done of the market annually. What it tells us is how many households will no longer be able to attain housing for $1,000 rise in the sales price. Foe the state of S.C. that number is 2,390, for my county of Spartanburg, the number is 246. So let that sink in a bit. Real families are impacted.
Thanks , Manning, for many years of industry advocacy!