I am looking forward to attending the Residential Economics Issues and Trends Forum this year. NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun will be discussing recent trends impacting the housing suppy and the implications for 2019. He will be joined by Lisa Sturtevant, President and Founder of Lisa Sturtevant & Associates who will provide her insights about how to increase the supply of affordable housing. According to an August 2018 article by Housing Wire, Affordability is a rising concern within the country as housing affordability hits a 10 year low.
The issue is a complex one, impacting many communities across the country. In West Michigan, this has become a particularly acute situation as Housing Prices have increased dramatically within the past couple of years – pricing many moderate to low income home-buyers out of the market. Competition is stiff! It is not unusual to have affordable homes sell in hours with multiple offers.
According to data supplied by the Greater Regional Alliance of REALTORS® (GRAR), in September, the average home sale price rose to $230,000 (up 5.4 % from 2017) and inventory levels are now 1.8 months. What is most remarkable is this: Inventory levels have averaged below 2.4 months for the past 5 years! This is unprecedented for our local area.
Earlier, this month, Brokers & Agents were invited to attend a Gala Dinner Theater Event in Grand Rapids, Michigan commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. The event was organized by Next Advance Training Systems and featured the Play, LINES: The Lived Experience of Race (written by Stephanie Sandberg) and presented by the Ebony Road Players Production Company. Event attendees were treated to an absolutely amazing cast of Actors, directed by Emily Wetzel. The play is entirely comprised of the words of over 150 members of the West Michigan community and focuses on issues such as: Housing Affordability, Redlining, Urbanization and the impact of Gentrification. Each Actor represented a minimum of 10 different individuals. One issue which featured prominently throughout the dialog was the issue of home ownership and housing affordability – reminding me of the Preamble of the Code of Ethics which states that ‘Under all is the Land’. This was a unique opportunity to learn about Fair Housing in a contemporary forum.
It was an exceptional evening! Pat Vredevoodg Combs, NAR 2007 President and advocate for Fair Housing presented a Gift of Appreciation to the West Michigan Fair Housing Center’s Education and Outreach Director, Liz Keegan. The event also recognized the efforts of three Philanthropic Organizations (Mel Trotter Ministries, Degage and the African Resource Center) which are assisting individuals who are struggling with homelessness due to a variety of reasons including disability and low wages. Attendees were given the opportunity to have personal interaction with the Philanthropic Organizations and the Fair Housing Center.
These types of conversations/events need to be happening more frequently outside the REALTOR® community as we engage the communities we serve. Many potential homeowners are unable to access the housing market. We will need the drive and innovation of many community partners working together to create the solutions to address this crisis. I look forward to hearing more about ways that REALTORS® can effectively advocate to address the issue of Housing Affordability in our local communities.
SESSION NOTE: The Residential Economic Issues & Trends Forum: Housing Affordability in the Residential Real Estate Market will be held in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center starting at 9:00am in the Grand Ballroom.