New Study: Affordable Housing Does Not Depress Property Values

From the News & Observer...

Do Habitat for Humanity Homes have a negative impact on the values of surrounding homes?

That is the question the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors asked a local real estate researcher to find out amid a growing concern over affordability in the Triangle and a controversial rezoning case in Cary.

In that Cary case many residents argued Habitat homes didn’t match the character of the area and would hurt home values.

Habitat for Humanity of Wake County tried to build 23 affordable homes on a 2.6-acre lot near downtown Cary, before fierce opposition to the rezoning proposal — from the nearby Scottish Hills neighborhood — eventually got the project limited to seven homes.

At the time, John Donachie, a Cary planner, said “It’s the most organized opposition I’ve ever seen to something like this.”

But the result of the study appears to stand in contrast to the rhetoric in Cary.

Habitat homes, it turns out, do not have a significant influence on the values of surrounding homes compared to neighborhoods without them, according to a study of Wake County written by Stacey Anfindsen of Birch Appraisal.

“It’s time someone stepped forward,” Anfindsen said of putting data behind the issue. “Everyone wants affordable housing, but no one wants it right next to them … at least this (study) is a starting point” to have a response to those people.

When it comes to debating affordable housing, the emotions on both sides of the argument take precedence, rather than actual data, Anfindsen said.

“At some point ... you have to say, ‘I hear you, but here’s the way things really are,’ ” Anfindsen said.

And, in reality, there is no clear data that Habitat homes have an impact on home values, he said. ...

The inventory of homes on the market in Wake County stood at just 2.1 months in April, a 8.7 percent decrease from the year before. That’s the lowest Anfindsen said he’s ever seen it. And the median sales prices of a home in Wake County is now at $300,202. ...

Habitat for Humanity of Wake County was not involved in the making of the study beyond providing some data on homes it had built. But Kevin Campbell, the organization’s president and CEO, said he was glad the association was concerned enough about affordable housing to commission the study.

“It supports something that we have known anecdotally: That the data really don’t support the idea that affordable housing negatively impacts housing prices around it,” Campbell said. “It’s kind of a wide held belief and urban legend that affordable housing will pull down my housing prices.”

It’s not the only recent study to suggest that affordable housing might not be such a threat to home prices. A report from real estate services company Trulia found that in the nation’s 20 least affordable housing markets, low-income housing built during a 10-year span showed no effect on nearby home values. Another study from Stanford University found that low-income housing raised property values and lowered crime in surrounding neighborhoods as it attracted higher-income residents to move in. ...

“We want to step up because it is getting to be a crisis — 91,000 families have a housing need in Wake County,” Campbell said, citing a study that found nearly one-fourth of households are spending more than they can afford for housing.
— Zachary Eanes - N&O
Brent Woodcox