Housing Deficit: What we need to do?
As a business professional, it is important you are informed and prepared for the future. Our current economy as a Nation is most certainly being experienced at the local level. From having the lowest unemployment in history, September 3.5% Nationally, to 3.7% at the State of Wyoming level to job growth happening in urban areas at a faster rate than rural areas, the information is important to follow. Within Wyoming, Laramie County has a more diverse economy than other communities in the State.
Dr. Anne Alexander, Associate VP Undergraduate Education at the University of Wyoming, shared during the Economic Forecast, “It isn’t a competition between Laramie County and Natrona County, but it is important to see how a diverse economy looks verse one really dependent on one industry.”
In the comparison she shared that the Wyoming Business Cycle Index as of June 2019 was 102.23, Caspers was 98.48 and Cheyenne was 107.56. Cheyenne has a much more diverse economy and is more resilient than other Wyoming communities. Dr. Alexander also shared that when the State was having a downturn in 2015, Cheyenne grew. This has allowed the community to not detract but expand.
“In 2015, we worked to have an increase in airmen at FE Warren Air Force Base because we saw an anticipated decrease in energy on the horizon. We were successful in getting 600, which was more jobs than what was lost from the energy downturn. Through our governmental affairs work and economic development initiatives, we are able to combat challenges - but we must remain proactive. Now we need to address housing.“ expressed President/CEO, Dale Steenbergen.
With the challenges in the housing market the Southeast Wyoming Home Builders shared how the requirements for land development is high. An example used shared that the tap fee is the same whether for a single-family home or a large commercial development. Builders have to endure these expenses. Even expenses like trees, landscaping and more. If the City would allow for these additional amenities to be added to the property overtime rather than all at once, that could perhaps assist in builder's feasibility to building properties that are in demand. Rather than right now these expenses are a deterrent. This was also addressed in the newly release Laramie County Housing Study, which was published today at the Business Week Economic Forecast Event presented by DAPCPA.
“New subdivisions are about to emerge in Laramie County and with hundreds of new homes. Lot costs have been published for these areas and the prices are high. This is a challenge for our community. Especially when needing a large quantity of homes in our community now, no later.” Expressed Buck Wilson, Cheyenne Board of Realtors President.
Greg Hancock, Executive Director of Cheyenne Housing Authority urges the builders and developers to build for density. This would accommodate living for more individuals and spread the 25% regulation expense that goes into a home cost among households to increase affordable housing.
First time home buyers are buying homes later in their lives and this may have been caused by students going to college and having immediate student debt. We are now seeing the millennial generation wanting homes, not necessarily small downtown apartments like what was previous predicted." expressed Darrel McMullen, President of the Southeast Wyoming Home Builders Association, "Density would help us immensely in our community. But in Wyoming we don't like our neighbors. So, as builders that is what we focus on."
Other statistics shared by the panelists included total homes sold in 2018 was 2,034 and in thus far in 2019 there are 1,606 and counting. Overall average single family home price has gone up significantly too, and this is because it is a "sellers" market, according to Wilson. In 2018, we had 165 City of Cheyenne Building Permits and in Laramie County there was 279. This year so far, 118 permits were pulled from the City of Cheyenne and 278 County permits. Projections show that 2019 will exceed that of 2018.
Photo By: Matthew Idler Photography