Reprinted with permission from The Charlotte Observer

Nearly half of North Carolina residents negatively view rising housing prices in their community, according to a new poll, though those who already own their home were more likely to see increased values as a good thing. 

Elon University released results from the new poll Wednesday with the The Charlotte Observer, The Durham Herald-Sun & The Raleigh News & Observer. The poll asked some 1,200 North Carolina residents about housing issues including their views on the real estate market, affordability and the government’s role in addressing costs. The poll gauges public opinion of the current housing landscape as the economy recovers from the pandemic with a changing labor market where employers struggle to fill vacancies, said Jason Husser, director of the Elon University Poll.

“We saw the housing market changes as really the story that would have been the big story of the year if not for the pandemic,” he said. “We’re at what seems to me like this really historic moment.”

More than 80 percent of respondents said housing prices in their area were higher than this time two years ago, which is in line with a real estate market that features rising prices, low inventory and stiff competition.

Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents said that was a bad thing, compared with 26 percent who said it was a good thing. Another 28 percent said the price changes don’t make much difference to their household. 

Those who said rising prices were a bad thing were more likely to be renters, younger respondents and those with lower incomes.

More people who own their homes (59 percent) said increased home values were a good thing.

More than half (52 percent) of respondents said they have been “a little,” “somewhat” or “very” worried about missing a rent or mortgage payment in the last six months.

Renters and those with lower incomes were more likely to respond with worry than those who owned their homes or had higher incomes.

Both rent and home sale prices in the Charlotte region are up from a year ago.

Real estate prices and competition remain high, with a regional median sale price of nearly $389,000 last month, an 11.7 percent increase from the previous September.

And new offered rents in September across the metro area were up 16.7 percent compared to a year ago, with an average rent $1,430 per month, according to real estate research firm CoStar. 

How to Address Affordability?

Poll respondents were overwhelmingly in favor of restricting major corporations from buying large numbers of properties (77 percent in support) and encouraging employers to provide financial support for employees to live locally (81 percent support).

Corporate investors continue to buy up homes across North Carolina, including those that buy single family homes as rentals, and companies like Zillow and Opendoor that buy homes to resell on the market. Critics have said corporate ownership drives up rental and home prices, and takes away key inventory for first-time home buyers and those with lower budgets.

The poll showed less support to change zoning laws to allow more houses per acre, with only 40 percent in favor.

Increasing housing density has been a hot button issue in urban areas including Charlotte, where the city’s 2040 plan allows for duplexes and triplexes in areas previously zoned for only single family homes.

For other questions of how affordability should be addressed, responses were murkier.

While 61 percent said they support increased government spending to support housing costs and 81 percent support providing incentives for developers to build affordable housing, 66 percent also said they are in favor of allowing the free market to deal with housing costs without government involvement.

These seemingly contradictory answers are not uncommon in polling, Husser said.

“We find that in polls …. across the country that people can support multiple things that are inconsistent with each other,” he said. 

Republicans were less supportive of zoning changes than Democrats or unaffiliated respondents. Even the most supportive party, Democrats, only favored the policy 54 percent to 46 percent opposed.

Democrats were significantly more supportive of additional government funding for housing (81 percent in favor) than Republicans (41 percent).

Developer incentives were popular across the board, with 90 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of unaffiliated and 73 percent of Republican respondents in favor.

The Elon Poll also found:

  • 48% of respondents considering moving in the last year.
  • 47% said they put off a home improvement project since the start of the pandemic.
  • 72% said housing prices in their local community make them worry about higher taxes.

Read the original at The Charlotte Observer.

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