Housing Affordability Emergency in our region – Builders Summit speakers implore action

The Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBA) hosted their 2016 Housing Summit at the Meydenbauer Center this morning. The objectives of the summit “are multi-fold, but all serve a singular goal: to increase the supply of affordable housing for all of our region’s residents,” said Shannon Affholter, Executive Director of the MBA. “It’s troubling that too many families can’t find a home in today’s housing market,” said Affholter.

A video was played for attendees, produced by the Master Builders, featuring multiple families who had attempted or were still attempting to buy in our region, but ended up settling for a home with a staggeringly long commute. Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist for Windermere addressed what he calls the “drive to buy; we keep on driving so we have somewhere to buy.”

Gardner went on to say, “As a region, we are at a crossroads… Limiting land supply accelerates home values. Left unchecked, this could negatively affect our ability to attract businesses. Our [region’s] competitive edge could be lost, and it’s remarkably hard to get back.”

John DesCamp, Vice President for Washington Trust Bank, gave a presentation about the challenges of homeownership from a lenders perspective. “As down payment decreases, affordability decreases… Just getting a loan can be a barrier to access housing with massive competition coming from cash buyers and quick closings.”

Governor Jay Inslee was the keynote speaker and gave a presentation on both the opportunities and challenges brought on by population growth. “The reality is we are not keeping pace with the demand… We need to build more housing for people. It should be a fundamental goal of the state.”

“[We need to] declare an emergency on housing affordability so we have more tools to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time,” said Peter Orser, acting Director for the University of Washington’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies. Orser went on to mention the Runstad Center’s recent condominium report, acknowledging the REALTORS® and Master Builders for using the data to show that condominiums are part of the affordability solution.

REALTORS® have been working tirelessly toward solutions to the housing crisis plaguing our region. “Reform of the Condominium Act will foster more construction and ease the unprecedented inventory shortage we are facing,” said Patti Hill, President of the Seattle King County REALTORS®. “REALTORS® have sought this type of reform. We have also proposed a number of other actions, including realistic housing forecasts and greater density along transit corridors, which will make it easier for families to purchase homes near job centers. We can do this without jeopardizing our single family neighborhoods, but we need action now.”