A study by Re/Max LLC Real Estate Company indicates that San Antonio, for the first time, is facing a 'housing shortage,' in certain neighborhoods and homes which are considered 'affordable' to most first time buyers, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Re/Max says the housing shortage is not only driving up home prices, it is also leading to a drop in home sales across the metro, as some buyers are simply priced out of the market, or are unable to find a home they can afford.
"This has been a national trend for several years," local Re/Max Owner-Broker Bob Jacobs said. "Both having enough houses in the big picture to service our entire population growth."
Homes under $200,000, which until recently made up more than half of the metro's available housing stock, now account for about 39% of the available homes, and rather than being limited to traditionally high end neighborhoods like on the north and northwest sides and places like King William, non traditional neighborhoods, like Dignowity Hill, east of downtown, are experiencing sharp housing price growth due to gentrification.
Jacobs says for decades, San Antonio was known as a haven for first time home buyers, where high quality homes could be purchased by first time buyers at a reasonable price.He says builders like Ray Ellison operated on a model which has now become outdated.
"Fifty years ago, we had builders that went out and bought big chunks of farmland, and then leased it back to the farmers and ranchers to continue using," he said. "They they slowly converted that land into affordable houses over the last twenty years."
But in the past decade or so, the business plan has become obsolete. There are no longer 'big chunks of farmland' available near San Antonio. But he says the high cost or unavailability of land is only one factor in the shortage of affordable homes.
"Construction costs, and labor costs, and specifically the raw land and the developmental costs."
Those 'developmental costs' include everything from the city's 'tree protection ordinance' to increasingly steep 'impact fees' charged to developers for developing lots. Analysts say because these development fees are usually charged 'by lot,' as opposed to based on the value of the home to be constructed, the logical outcome is to actually encourage, through government policy, builders not to put up lower cost, 'Ray Ellison' style homes.
Jacobs says one impact of the affordable home shortage is the huge apartment boom that has been seen across the metro area, as young families find themselves priced out of buying a home, and frequently dragged down by student loan debt, opt for renting apartments instead of buying homes.
He says this could cause problems later on, as home equity is frequently the largest single asset families have, and use it for everything from home improvements, which benefits local businesses and contractors, to investing in new companies, to retirement.