Amid housing shortage, Greene County remains hot market for developers

Construction crews work on one of the new homes that is being built in the Bellasera Subdivision in Sugarcreek Twp. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Construction crews work on one of the new homes that is being built in the Bellasera Subdivision in Sugarcreek Twp. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Regional and national housing shortage continues to batter would-be homebuyers.

Greene County remains a popular market for homebuilders, but the race against increasing demand coupled with a tight labor market means the shortage — and higher prices — may continue.

Short travel times for commuters, accessibility to major highways, a relatively low cost of living, and the proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are a few of the reasons that local residents, and by extension developers, have found Greene County so attractive, said Greene County Development Director Eric Henry.

As of May 2022, Greene County communities issued 143 single-family building permits out of the total 587 for the Dayton region, according to recently released permit data from the Homebuilders Association of Dayton. The city of Beavercreek alone issued 55 building permits, 25 of which were for the Cedarbrook Farm subdivision, and Fairborn follows with 45 permits, split between Arden Place on Maple Street and Waterford Landing.

Home-building growth is all across the county, and townships in particular have cultivated steep growth in the last three years. That includes the Bellasera, Magnolia Meadows and Landings developments in Sugarcreek Twp, as well as the Courtyards and Whitebarn Trails at Stonehill Village in Beavercreek Twp.

Record high home prices and record low inventory, have created a perfect storm for a housing shortage nationwide, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors, causing the price of starter homes to creep up over the years. The cost of buying a single-family home has spiked more than 20% nationwide in June compared to the same month last year, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index. The national average cost of a starter home in 2022 has risen to about $313,000.

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Exacerbating the cost is a tight labor market, said Eric Farrell, executive director of the Homebuilder’s Association of Dayton, which could not only delay construction, but cause house prices to go up.

“If builders can’t build (homes) in a timely fashion to accommodate the demand, and there’s not a skilled enough labor force to meet the demand, there’s this perfect storm of slowing the ability to put in a product that is affordable to the average consumer,” Farrell said.

Additionally, baby boomers are staying in their houses longer, creating a “log jam” for millennials looking to buy an affordable first home, Farrell said. The two generations are competing for the same section of housing stock, squeezing the market from both ends.

“You used to have a cycle through the housing market. You’d start with an entry level house, work up to a bigger house with kids; when the kids move out, you buy an empty nester (house), and then move to a nursing home. Then that downsized house would open up for a younger person,” said Greene County Engineer Stephanie Goff.

“Now the elderly aren’t leaving their houses, in some cases instead choosing to live with their families,” Goff said, adding that few nursing homes are even currently being built.

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Additionally, a large portion of homeowners may have capitalized on the historically low mortgage interest rates of 2021, making it more expensive to move into another home, Farrell said.

“It’s more expensive to leave from a monthly payment standpoint,” he said. “Demand coupled with interest rates does not create opportunities for anyone to enter the market, creating the need for a robust new housing stock.”

Developers and local governments can’t do much to combat global factors like inflation, but there are things that can be done to increase affordability. For example, Greene County’s Department of Development has programs in place to incentivize higher-paying jobs so that residents have increased purchasing power to buy a home, Henry said.

Further, looking at potentially outdated zoning regulations or government fees may help builders reach a price point more affordable to consumers, Farrell said.

“Government regulations account for approximately 25% of the costs of new constructions,” he said. “So when you begin to tackle housing that’s affordable, if all things are out of our control here locally, the one thing that we here locally can impact is what are those government fees? What are those government regulations that are being imposed on the builders?”

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In Greene County, land availability and the rural character of the region have been a key selling point for homebuyers, Henry said.

“We are blessed to have thriving suburban communities and vast amounts of green space (including our famous parks and bike trails) in the county,” Henry said. “So striking a balance of prioritizing development, while also maintaining our farmland and wild space, is a key challenge.”

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