Housing investment must now be looked at like any other type of economic development investment a community may need or desire. There is very limited bank lending available for housing inventory development today. There are increasing regulatory and building material costs. There is a shortage of workers and lots. At the same time, there is growing demand for larger homes that provide higher returns on investment. With these challenges and dynamics in the marketplace, very few new homes are being built at starter home or mid-level price points (what we define as “workforce housing”). At the same time, many new jobs are being created across the state, driving up demand for all types of housing. Supply is not meeting demand and Realtors® report record low inventory of homes for sale in a growing number of markets.
Because of economic forces and the aforementioned challenges, the building industry in South Carolina cannot respond to demand in the same way it could in pre-recession years. As a result, we are seeing more and more hard-working middle-class families being pushed out of the new construction housing marketplace because they cannot afford the cost of a newly constructed home in their community.
To kick-start more building activity at all price points and to develop a more sustainable housing environment well into the future for our state, I believe three cornerstone principles must be addressed by policy makers and community leaders to better encourage investment, eliminate costly delays and regulatory costs and help shape the industry’s future workforce:
I. Local Government Policies & Processes that Impact Housing Investment Must be Spotlighted, Identifying Impediments and Adopting Best Practices.
II. State Authority to Enforce Code & Land Development Laws Must Be Clear & Unwavering.
III. Efforts to Train and Attract Individuals to the Skilled Trades Must be Dramatically Increased and Sustained over the Long-Term.