Time flies. School has started again. It is almost Labor Day and don’t we all, builders and associates, wish we had more labor to get what we need to get done.
In spite of all the challenges, our business, home building, is great and in demand. There are more households wanting (and needing) housing than we can supply. This is particularly true in Lincoln and particularly true for households in the lower half of the income spectrum which I call the workforce or workforce housing. But cost to build (and sell) a home and median income ability to borrow (finance a home) don’t match. Higher interest rates put a damper on households “building or buying up.” If an existing house with a 3% mortgage is satisfactory, a new more expensive house with a 5% mortgage doesn’t seem wise. So I’m saying that builders should consider the workforce market. On page 23, Nebraska Housing Resource, a non-profit created to encourage Home Builders to get into the affordable housing space, details their programs which are all designed to bridge the gap between cost and ownership. One of those programs is Middle Income Workforce housing which now allows assistance for owner-occupied housing anywhere in Lincoln provided the value is over $125,000 and less than $275,000. These could be new construction or substantial remodels (meaning at least 50% of the unit’s before-construction value is in the remodel).
There are a number of other programs and possibilities in Lincoln to bridge that gap and get our workers into home ownership. NIFA has first time homebuyer assistance and downpayment assistance. It has a new program for non-first time buyers to finance up to about 95% of cost. The City has several programs including, if building or remodeling in specific areas of town, tax increment financing. We as a group need to learn about and use the resources available and make those resources part of our marketing programs to address the shortage in market segment. The goal is making win-win. We win building a home. A worker wins by buying it with assistance.