The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® provided testimony on the current state of housing at a hearing at the Capitol yesterday.
PAR Legislative Committee Chair Glenn Yoder told members of the Senate Majority Policy Committee that inventory levels and housing affordability have created challenges for consumers entering and re-entering the real estate market in Pennsylvania.
“First-time homebuyers in particular face a number of challenges in today’s market,” Yoder said. “For some of these first-time homebuyers, saving enough for a down payment may be an obstacle. Higher prices and student debt restrict young potential buyers before being able to save enough for a down payment. We’re thankful that the Senate Urban Affairs Committee recently advanced Senate Bill 295 by Sen. Rosemary Brown, which would create a first-time homebuyer savings account program in Pennsylvania to help first-time homebuyers address some of these issues.”
Yoder noted that he works with new home construction and the costs to prepare and permit a site to build often run between $75,000 and $100,000.
“With base prices up to $100,000 and the costs of materials and labor at a record high, builders are essentially forced to build more expensive properties to recoup their costs,” he said. “These increased costs are sometime couples with restrictive zoning ordinances limiting housing options, which further complicates the new home construction process and strains affordability.”
Ryan Dellinger, state outreach manager for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, presented the results of a study “Housing Reform in the States: A Menu of Options for 2023”. The study notes that, “Overly restrictive local zoning is the fundamental cause of America’s housing shortage, and states can place limits on local zoning as well as reform the processes that make land use regulation a source of frustration for so many local officials and citizens.” He provided examples of how other state legislatures have enacted legislation aimed at loosening zoning.
Comments about accessory dwelling units, multi-unit residents, parking mandates and lot-size requirements were also presented by those testifying before the committee.