New Housing too Expensive? Make Remodeling Cheaper

Austin, Texas, fights to keep its citizens in place and well-housed

November 16, 2017
The city of Austin

Why pay more when you can pay less? That was the reasoning behind the Austin City Council’s recent decision to move forward on its Family Homestead Initiative–first introduced by District 2 City Council member Delia Garza–by passing a resolution, directing the city manager to look into the City’s zoning and permitting processes as they relate to remodeling projects, as well as how it collects development fees. 

The resolution is a response to Austin’s increasingly expensive, where home prices from 2012 to 2016 rose 39 percent compared to only a 2.5-percent increase over the same period for local wages. The problem is one that has economically stifled Austin residents, and has, according to the resolution’s language, become a catalyst for their leaving the city. 

As the intitiative’s title suggests, it’s tilted toward households. Two of the city manager’s four official directives make special mention of fees and permitting as they relate to both home expansion and secondary dwelling units. If the intiaitive passes, local remodelers could see a serious rise in those types of projects. The city’s population is the fastest growing in the country, yet its housing inventory has fallen 60 percent since its peak in 2007, and as of September is currently at a 3.1-months supply––about three-months supply short of a balanced market.   

The city manager will present findings no later than Feb. 2, 2018. 

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