I read with great interest a column by Diana Olick, Real Estate Editor for CNBC the other day.
Her thesis is that due to home builders favoring larger and higher priced homes, overall home ownership is becoming available only to wealthier citizens. She reports that sales of homes priced under $100,000 fell 13% in January 2018 versus January 2017, and home sales between $100,000 and $250,000 fell another 2%. Apparently, there are plenty of homes on the market over $250,000 but not nearly enough available in the affordable price range for most buyers.
This is exactly the reason we are here doing what we do every day. Working to build safe, decent, and affordable homes for our family partners who struggle each day financially and could likely never qualify for a commercial mortgage to buy a home of their own.
During the bitter cold mornings of this past December and January, numerous very dedicated volunteers joined our faithful Construction Supervisors on the work sites working to finish one home and frame the next. It is one thing to come out on a nice spring or autumn day to work on a Habitat home, but it is quite another to be there when the thermometer reads 15° on a January morning, or to finish out the day on an August afternoon at 98°. This is a mission.
It may surprise some to know that Habitat for Humanity International was the 18th largest home builder in the United States in 2017 (Builder Magazine 100), with an output of 3966 new and rehabilitated homes at the end of the fiscal year, June 2017. For the five-year period 2013 – 2017, Habitat constructed and rehabilitated 22,204 affordable homes in the United States. For Habitat Spartanburg, our output was six new homes in FY 2017, and 30 new and rehabilitated homes over the 2013 – 2017 time frame. We seek to complete seven new homes in FY 2018.
These homes are being made affordable two ways: 1) By careful choices of design, generous donations of land, sponsorships of building cost, and most of all, the generous donation of volunteer construction labor, the cost of constructing a Habitat home is much lower than commercial construction. 2) By offering an affordable mortgage, most frequently at zero interest, Habitat families enjoy a new, energy efficient home at a monthly cost much lower than a commercial mortgage loan and much lower than typical rents, even for substandard housing.
The need for affordable housing for the citizens of Spartanburg County and all over the United States is huge. Here locally we are working in partnership with the City of Spartanburg, Spartanburg County Development, the Spartanburg Housing Authority, the Northside Development Group, and numerous corporate, faith, individual, and foundation sponsors to help meet the need. But it is a big job, and along with Habitat, providers such as Homes of Hope, Nehemiah, ReGenesis, and others work every day to help our neighbors find safe, decent, and affordable homes to live in and raise their families.
We may or may not be able to alter the statistics for all, but as with the old starfish story with the child throwing beached starfish back into the ocean, “it made a difference to that one."