Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 21, 2021

Finding creative solutions for affordable housing

Last week, I enjoyed joining my fellow Realtors from across the state and country for the annual National Association of Realtors legislative meetings.

Like last year, we participated in these meetings virtually. Even so, that setting didn’t take away the impact or importance of our one-on-one meetings with our senators and representatives.

The meetings centered on local and national issues related to homeownership and private property rights. This year’s major focus was the need for more affordable housing, which is an issue that’s having an impact across the country.

Throughout the pandemic, the residential real estate market has had a positive economic impact on homeowners, communities and the economy. However, the historic, 50-year-record shortage of affordable homes has severely limited access to the residential real estate market.

Suppose more residential housing is made available through efforts to improve the nation’s infrastructure. In that case, opportunities to access the wealth-building benefits of homeownership would increase alongside employment levels and economic activity.

A recent study estimates the U.S. has developed an “underbuilding gap” of 5.5 million housing units over the last 20 years. This trend translates into a $4.4 trillion underinvestment in housing. Even relatively modest steps to reduce this gap will unleash tremendous economic activity and create millions of new jobs.

In our recent meetings, we offered ways legislators could provide some much-needed relief to the housing shortage, such as providing tax incentives to convert underutilized commercial property into residential units.

Finding new uses for unused commercial real estate offers significant benefits for families struggling to find affordable housing, the distressed commercial sector, the nation’s broader economy and for governments at all levels, which will reap new revenues.

Some problems require creative, outside-the-box solutions, and converting unused commercial property just might be one solution to the inventory shortage.

Also, we stressed to elected officials the importance of preserving the 1031 like-kind exchange, which is a vital tool in promoting liquidity, encouraging additional investment and helping small and minority-owned businesses expand and grow.

Like-kind exchanges fill gaps in the housing supply not covered by other incentives to develop affordable housing. Limiting like-kind exchanges would increase the cost of rental housing and raise rents, not to mention that the vast majority is held by mom-and-pop investors who are sole proprietors and pass-through businesses.

Realtors everywhere strive to make sure all Americans can reach the goal of homeownership, which is the centerpiece of the American Dream and the pathway to economic well-being and intergenerational wealth-building. Advocating for homeowners and homeownership – that’s Who We R.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,400 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of 300 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. Greater Chattanooga Realtors services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit www.gcar.net or call 423 698-8001.