Friday, May 04, 2007

Where's the Affordable Housing?

I just noticed something on Jon Lansner's real estate blog on The OC Register's web site. The market may be cooling, but prices remain high... VERY HIGH. Actually, home prices are still at RECORD HIGHS here in Orange County.

Fresh stats from DataQuick give a confusing signal about the market for resales of single-family residences. Sales activity is off, again. For the 22 business days ended April 18, volume is down 22.9% vs. a year ago in this key market niche. That's a strong hint that single-family resales for all of April will fail to meet last year's count for the 19th straight month. However, the most recent median selling price -- $720,000 -- would be a new record high for a full month. The current record, $705,000, was set in April 2006.

So what's wrong with this picture? Although the market is settling down, prices aren't going down. And with prices remaining this high, way too many folks can't afford to buy a home in places like Orange County.

Come on over, and join me down below for more on what still needs to be done to help people afford a home in this area...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Let's face it: The market is flattening. Real estate in Southern California is certainly not as red-hot as it was just three years ago. The market peaked in 2005, and there just isn't as much demand for homes ever since. However, supply is still limited as there isn't much land left in Orange County for new homes. And still, there will always be some demand as jobs are created here in OC, and people continue to move down here for the jobs.

So what can be done about this? Some would just like to build more expensive McMansions out in the hills, in the small patches of open space that we have left. However, this won't solve our housing problem. We need lower priced homes near urban cores of Orange County where all these new jobs are being created.

So what can we do? Perhaps we can offer incentives to developers who agree to set aside a good percentage of their homes for affordable housing. Maybe we can also encourage these developers to build higher density housing in these urban cores where all the jobs are. And maybe we can encourage these cities to make these areas attractive by fixing the roads and placing parks within reach of these new homes. Perhaps this can become more than just building affordable housing, but also revitalizing our cities in a responsible way.

So what ideas do you have for affordable housing? What do you think we need to do to allow workers to actually live near their work? And how can we make this new housing into neighborhoods that people can actually live in?

Let's start thinking of good ideas to solve this problem. : )


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