There is a “tremendous opportunity” to meet a growing need for housing in Spokane County by changing local government policies to spur development and create vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods, according to a preliminary finding by consultants from the CRE Consulting Corps of Counselors of Real Estate.
The consultants analyzed housing and population statistics for the county, in addition to interviewing policymakers, developers, builders and civic leaders in the area to find solutions to the housing crisis in Spokane.
“Everyone wants more housing,” Jackie Buhn, team leader at The Counselors of Real Estate. “There are minor thought differences in the details, but everyone is pushing in the same direction. Everyone wants housing at all income levels in every neighborhood.
Recommendations included in the team’s preliminary report included a regional update of zoning codes to allow for more infill development and a variety of housing types; working with community groups to create a vision for their neighborhoods; financial incentives to stimulate development; and the review of local governance to cope with the changes needed to increase the supply of housing.
Spokane’s population has grown by around 1% per year over the past decade, but housing development has not kept up with the influx of new residents. As a result, the median home price soared to $ 389,728 in August.
“It’s really unusual to see this kind of growth,” said Paige Mueller, managing director of San Francisco-based real estate consultancy Eigen 10 Advisors. “We looked at 383 markets across the country, (Spokane) is ranked # 20 in terms of home price growth over the past year.”
If population growth continues at its current rate, the team cited by the Bureau of Financial Management estimates that 28,000 new homes will need to be built in the county over the next decade.
Home sales in Spokane indicate a lack of housing and labor supply for first-time buyers. This lack of affordable housing, combined with the expiration of moratoriums on evictions, could increase homeless populations, according to the group of advisers.
Almost 20% of the county’s homes have sold for over $ 500,000 in the past year. For comparison, about 1% of homes in the county sold for over $ 500,000 in 2011.
“It’s not a price your community can afford. In order for most of your citizens to have even the median house price, which is in the range of $ 300,000, they will need two earners, ”Mueller said. “It’s a major social problem, especially for these young families.
Another downside to the area’s squeezing housing supply is that long-term residents may be forced to move to other areas, she added.
Mueller encouraged the community to think about creating safe and vibrant communities with a variety of property types, like those in Kendall Yards. Similar developments would support local businesses, create shopping centers, house intergenerational families, reduce commute times, and support underserved neighborhoods.
“When we have a functioning community, we have a variety of types of properties. We have retail. We have local businesses. We have workplaces, ”she said. “So we want to think about how best to serve our neighborhoods and support projects, and not isolate housing as part of that?” “
The team found that the supply of land could be more abundant under policies that would allow for higher density and infill development. However, this will require public and private sector collaboration on zoning procedures.
“We have heard a lot of opinion that there is not enough available land in Spokane,” said Stan Sidor, senior vice president of the Tacoma branch of Kidder Matthews. “But we see that there are many possibilities for infill development. But again, it’s a bit more difficult, but it can happen. It will just take the will and perseverance of the whole community.
The Counselors of Real Estate is an international organization of real estate experts. Its aim is to develop an objective and impartial review of demographics and housing, examine barriers to development and present solutions for creating housing options in cities across the country.
The team compiled the preliminary report on a voluntary basis as a result of collaboration between the Spokane Association of Realtors, Washington Realtors, and the Spokane Home Builders Association.
“We are delighted to learn of the huge untapped potential of housing opportunities in Spokane,” Eric Johnson, president of the Spokane Association of Realtors, said in a statement. “We believe this demonstrates that Spokane may have an opportunity to add to our much needed housing supply.”
A full team final report is expected in November.