Housing investment must now be looked at like any other type of economic development investment a community may need or desire. There is very limited bank lending available for housing inventory development today. There are increasing regulatory and building material costs. There is a shortage of workers and lots. At the same time, there is growing demand for larger homes that provide higher returns on investment. With these challenges and dynamics in the marketplace, very few new homes are being built at starter home or mid-level price points (what we define as “workforce housing”). At the same time, many new jobs are being created across the state, driving up demand for all types of housing. Supply is not meeting demand and Realtors® report record low inventory of homes for sale in a growing number of markets.

Because of economic forces and the aforementioned challenges, the building industry in South Carolina cannot respond to demand in the same way it could in pre-recession years. As a result, we are seeing more and more hard-working middle-class families being pushed out of the new construction housing marketplace because they cannot afford the cost of a newly constructed home in their community.

To kick-start more building activity at all price points and to develop a more sustainable housing environment well into the future for our state, I believe three cornerstone principles must be addressed by policy makers and community leaders to better encourage investment, eliminate costly delays and regulatory costs and help shape the industry’s future workforce:

I. Local Government Policies & Processes that Impact Housing Investment Must be Spotlighted, Identifying Impediments and Adopting Best Practices.

II. State Authority to Enforce Code & Land Development Laws Must Be Clear & Unwavering.

III. Efforts to Train and Attract Individuals to the Skilled Trades Must be Dramatically Increased and Sustained over the Long-Term.

The HBA of South Carolina and its members believe the recommendations linked to these three cornerstones are crucial. But, first and foremost, we need local community leaders and elected officials to hear and understand that the world has changed for our industry. Housing investment must now be looked at like any other type of economic development investment a community may need or desire. It won’t just happen.

If communities want to attract jobs to their region and have those employees live in their towns, they need to think about their housing stock and the review and approval systems they have in place for land development, new home construction and the renovation of existing homes. If they have a shortage of housing, they need to look at how their systems may be impeding such development and determine what they might be able to do to attract such investment in the future.

Lengthy and complicated review processes represent an especially difficult challenge for obtainable (quality housing options at low and moderate price points) housing development. With a lower return on investment, obtainable housing projects suffer disproportionately from costs associated with regulatory processes and delay. Not surprisingly, fewer obtainable housing units are being built. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), an ever-increasing portion of the cost of a new home is attributable to the cumulative effect of these types of costs. On average, nationally, 25-33% of the cost of a typical home can now be attributed to these costs—everything from mandated studies to multiple site reviews, delays, permit and other fees, code requirements, etc.

In this landscape, communities that can distinguish themselves by streamlining these processes and removing barriers to investment will benefit now, more than ever. An efficient review and approval process will benefit not only the builder/developer, but the government and taxpayers of communities across the state by keeping housing affordable and expanding the local population and tax base. More families, more children and more homes equal more money for schools and local government.

Regions that develop the most efficient practices designed to attract investment will gain housing options for their citizens and grow. Those that maintain the status quo, or actually increase burdens, will lose out and see their communities passed by.

S.C. is projected to build more than 25,000 single family homes in 2017. The estimated economic impact is at least:

$3.84 billion in income for South Carolina residents;

$828.2 million in taxes and other revenue for the state and local governments in the state and;

68,544 new jobs in South Carolina.

The additional, annually recurring impacts of building 25,000 single-family homes in South Carolina include:

$665 million in income for South Carolina residents;

$243.8 million in taxes and other revenue for the state and local governments in the state and;

13,540 new jobs in South Carolina.

These are ongoing, annual local impacts that result from the new homes being occupied and the occupants paying taxes and otherwise participating in the state economy year after year.

Each new home built equates to 3.4 full time jobs over a 12-month period and 1.2 permanent jobs. This multiplier effect stems from all the home furnishings and other products and services purchased by home buyers. Expanding South Carolina’s building industry has numerous positive impacts and is necessary to expand job creation and our population base.