CCCBI holds panel to discuss housing market

left to right) Steven Shields of Moody’s Analytics, award-winning realtor Michelle Leonard, CCCBI President & CEO Laura Manion, and Libby Horwitz of the Chester County Planning Commission.

On June 20, the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry’s (CCCBI) Young Professionals Committee held a Housing Panel to discuss the state of housing across Chester County. The panel, comprised of Libby Horwitz of the Chester County Planning Commission, Steven Shields of Moody’s Analytics, and award-winning realtor Michelle Leonard, covered the current state of the housing market, what it means for potential buyers, sellers, and employers, and future outlooks.

Laura Manion, CCCBI President & CEO, moderated the panel discussion with direct questions based on member feedback about average list and purchase pricing, new construction, mortgage rates, and municipal participation before opening up the floor to attendees.

During the comment section of the forum, panelists heard from attendees including the township Manager of East Whiteland Township, Steve Brown, who commented on the willingness of the township to create opportunities for attainable and affordable housing, while John Weller of West Whiteland Township reiterated a similar intent along with the financial challenges that accompany new construction. Panelist Libby Horwitz noted the potential that re-zoning presents. Either re-defining current zoning definitions or adding new zoning laws could allow for more duplexes or triplexes to be built and provide attainable housing for young families and young workers. The Chester County Planning Commission and municipalities agree that legislative action is needed in the General Assembly to address challenges to attainable housing, as well as a need for more public-private partnerships.

If the workforce cannot access housing, they are not only more likely to move away but also to eventually look for employment outside of Chester County, severely decreasing the potential employees available for local businesses. It is important to note that the labor force is made up of both young families seeking starter homes and older generations looking to downsize. This doubled candidate pool further limits the available housing options, forcing buyers to overpay and compromise on previous standard practices.

A typical experience for millennial buyers is offering $50,000 to $100,000 over asking price for existing homes, or agreeing to lock in at unprecedented 7% mortgage rates for several years versus the typical 4%. Leonard advises that while prices are currently high, it is more strategic to buy now and refinance later rather than face the rising costs that will surface in the next few years.

Panelist Steven Shields was able to confirm that rates are on the rise nationwide, not just here in Chester County. Both existing and new units are becoming increasingly harder to access. Throughout the County, new construction consists of luxury townhomes and living communities that are not conducive to the lifestyle sought after by the current average home-buyer, millennials. While the next option would reasonably be to design and build their “dream home,” new builds have become inaccessible to the average buyer because only top wage earners are able to financially compete with the rising cost of labor and materials.

The room was filled with community partners, such as representatives from the County of Chester, the Housing Partnership of Chester County, the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association and various municipal employees. The audience Q&A was robust, focusing on the need to address housing, infrastructure and public transportation in our community. Manion finished the conversation by noting, “this is a topic employers should pay close attention to. Affordable and attainable housing is directly related to workforce.”

CCCBI will continue to advocate for housing solutions, some of which identified at this critical forum, with elected officials and other decision-makers.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment