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2024 Housing Symposium

On May 23, 2024, the Town of Plattsburgh hosted a North Housing Symposium. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of many discussions; it brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss some of the most pressing issues in the housing market today. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on the panel at the symposium, engage in these important conversations and to hear from various perspectives. As an Associate Real Estate Broker with over nine years of experience, I have seen the market from multiple angles—as a renter, home buyer, home seller, and housing provider. My husband and I own four long-term rental units & one short-term. I am able to view the challenges and opportunities within the housing sector from multiple vantage points.


I’m seeing the barriers to homeowners revolve primarily around two major themes: cash to close and supply.



Cash To Close


For many prospective buyers, the most significant hurdle is gathering enough cash to close. This includes not only the down payment but also appraisal fees, inspection costs, funding the escrow account, prorations to the seller, lender fees, and attorney fees. With the high cost of living, saving up enough to cover these expenses can be daunting.


There are a couple existing grants that offer some relief. For instance, the Adirondack Roots

Acquisition Rehab grant provides an option where a buyer can get money for closing costs as long as 50% of the grant is also used to rehab the house. The NYS Association of Realtors® also offers a $2,000. Expanding grant programs to assist income-qualified individuals would be a tremendous help to potential buyers.



Supply


The lack supply of homes to purchase is a critical issue that has been on going. Even when

buyers have the necessary cash to close, finding a suitable property can be challenging due to the limited supply. Housing supply comes from two sources: people selling existing homes and new construction.


The problem of limited supply is not new. Nationally, we are still recovering from a decade of underproduction in single-family housing starts. There are numerous residential housing

construction projects underway, but this is where we can make a significant impact. While

addressing immediate challenges is crucial, we must also look at long-term solutions to prevent the recurrence of these issues. Historically, it seems we only recognize problems when they reach a crisis point.


We also need more property owners to list their existing homes on the market. One of the major barriers here is the high interest rates, which discourage current homeowners from selling because like many of us, they refinanced their mortgage rates when interest rates were about half of what they are now. Many sellers also face a dilemma: if they sell their home, where will they go next? This uncertainty, combined with financial constraints, keeps many properties off the market.



Barriers to Increasing Supply: Cost to Build


A substantial barrier to increasing the housing supply is the cost of new construction. Many

assume that the high prices of homes translate to huge profits for builders, but the reality is that with the costs associated with land acquisition, materials, labor, and compliance with regulations often builders cannot sell new homes at a price that covers their expenses, let alone make a profit.


To tackle this issue, we need to find ways to bring down construction costs. This includes

investing in infrastructure and exploring no-gap lending options for housing. Community

Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), in other locations have been successful in providing this essential funding, but more localized support is needed. These loans are not free money but can bridge the financial gaps that hinder housing projects.



Looking Forward


It is essential to develop solutions that address immediate needs while also planning for the

future. By recognizing and addressing these issues proactively, we can prevent them from

escalating into crises. Collaborative efforts among real estate professionals, builders, financial institutions, and policymakers are crucial to creating a sustainable and accessible housing market.


In conclusion, the Housing Symposium highlighted the multifaceted nature of the challenges we face in the housing sector. By addressing both the financial barriers to home ownership and the structural issues limiting housing supply, we can work towards a more equitable and efficient market. Continued dialogue and cooperation will be key to finding and implementing these solutions.



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