The Affordability Dilemma

Talk about scary statistics, here’s one from Trulia senior economist Cheryl Young.

“In San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. starter home buyers will need to spend over 100 percent of their income to afford an entry level home.”

For many of our young adult children coming of age as the lifeblood and true north of our communities and cities and wider jurisdictions, earn what they might from pretty good paying essential worker types of jobs–teaching, fire fighting, police work, sanitation, etc.–it doesn’t matter.

Much of our new housing activity, whether it’s in the for-sale, market rate for-rent, or rehab and renovation area, is too expensive for ordinary working people on working people’s salaries and working people’s savings.

You can earn between 80% and 120% of an area median income in more and more markets and sub-markets, and have no choice but to deal with the fact that new apartments and new home communities have nothing for you. You’re priced out, and you’ve got to move far away, or double-up, or delay moving out of a parents’ home because the private enterprise business of housing as we know it can not match its cost models to develop and build to what you can pay.

The problem may be isolated in our minds to a few hyper expensive places we hear over and over again as the regions that have become unaffordable to workforce households. But it’s not an isolated problem in reality.

Among 440 U.S. counties analyzed in the report, 344 (78 percent) posted a Q3 2018 affordability index below 100, meaning homes were less affordable than the long-term affordability averages for the county — the highest percentage of counties below historic affordability averages since Q3 2008.

Continue Reading…