Thursday, January 24, 2013

Priced in

photo of sprawled subdivision
© harrington
Where this (still uncompleted) subdivision sits today, sandhill cranes used to feed. I know because I used to see them once or twice a week. Across the road from this development are farm fields. Between this subdivision and the nearest commercial center are more farm fields. You cant see the storm water pond just beyond the widely spaced pine trees, but several small flocks of Canada geese spend summer there, at least for now. Before you get all up in my face about homes for people being more important than food for cranes, let me say that's not the point I'm getting at. I find little that's attractive about these houses and their vinyl siding in their location miles from anything but farm fields and more houses like these. This is what you get when you drive 'til you qualify. What you loose are sandhill cranes and, eventually, probably the geese too. If we're going to give up cranes and geese, and maybe foxes and butterflies and ..., can't we get something more attractive and functional in return? The National Association of Home Builders [NAHB] cites a study that claims "The 2012 estimates show that nationally a $1,000 increase in the price of the home price leads to pricing out about 232,447 households."By most of the calculations I've seen, the average house costs somewhere between $100 and $200 a square foot to build. That means that for every reduction of between 5 and 10 square feet in the average house size (equal to less than one closet?) another 200,000 plus households could afford to buy a home. They'd be priced in. Even more could be priced in if they didn't have to have two or three cars to get to work and soccer etc. The average car costs something like $5,000 to $7,500 per year. That's about two to four times the average home energy bill and something like 25% to 40% of the average yearly mortgage. So, if we just used more of the knowledge we currently have (nothing rocket science here), more families could afford homes, we could cut down on green house gas emissions while saving agricultural land and wildlife habitat. What do you say NAHB? How about a pricing in study?