Throughout the United States, concerns about the availability and pricing of homes have moved to the forefront of city planners and legislators–particularly in urban areas. From 1986 to 2017, the median price of a single-family detached home increased from 370% of the median annual income to 410%. In short, that means housing prices have grown faster than wages. The cause of the sharp rise in prices is supply and demand.
In 2019, Josh Lehner, Economist with the State of Oregon, testified at the Senate Committee on Housing regarding the low levels of new construction, housing supply constraints, and the negative impact on housing affordability in Oregon. Lehner concluded, “The housing supply and affordability challenges truly are statewide issues. In recent years, the increase in new construction activity has barely kept pace with the increase in population growth. A market imbalance remains.”
One way cities and states across our country are dealing with the housing shortage is to allow more homes to be built on smaller parcels of land, or “upzoning.” On August 8, 2019, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 2001 into law, providing alternatives to single-family zoning regulations. HB 2001 widens the ability to build duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhomes, and cottage clusters on lands that have been zoned for single-family homes. Oregon towns and cities with populations over 10,000 are required to adopt zoning laws to allow duplexes on current single-family zoned lots. Municipalities with at least 25,000 need to implement rules to allow for all the types of multi-family homes described above.
As you’ve traveled the roads of larger cities in Oregon, you’ve likely seen an increase in multi-family units under construction. In 2019, there was an estimated shortage of 155,000 homes for Oregonians. For communities, housing availability is critical in attracting new businesses to the region. Developers, community leaders, and business owners are hopeful these new multi-family unit developments will begin to fill the gap.
Theoretically, more homes on the market for sale and rental should reduce the prices of each. Time will tell how long it will take for the market to stabilize. Many experts feel we won’t see a price reduction, but instead, prices will stop increasing at such a fast pace.
Upzoning can be good and bad
Current property owners in urban areas don’t all see the changes as positive. For example, a local bee farmer within the city limits now finds herself next to a series of fourplexes where she previously enjoyed a large, empty neighboring lot with a single-family home on it. Adding many multi-home units to formerly vacant areas or having fewer single-family units also adds stress and strain to road traffic and access to utilities.
To learn more about changes to zoning laws that impact our communities, contact the experts at Richard Stevens & Associates.
Zoning laws are complex and constantly evolving. The regulations that governed your plot of land and those around you may be very different than when you purchased it. If you’re searching for a new piece of property, you mustn’t rely on rules and regulations you knew were in place in the past. Our team at Richard Stevens & Associates can help you analyze all the land use provisions that impact your property and guide you through legal steps you need to take to appeal to change them. Call us today at 541-773-2646 to get started.