Housing moves slow, but progress noted

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Bad news, good news with several projects in the pipeline

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This week, the housing crunch in Fredericksburg hit home with our company. We are losing a great employee and her husband to a market close to Houston. They are two very hard-working people and we wish them nothing but the best.

And while family connections were partly responsible for their move, we lament that the very high cost of housing is another. This steady, two-income family will now take their considerable talents elsewhere.

Last year, Fredericksburg was named the “least affordable housing market” in the state by one online source. While we have many stunning homes, homes for average, working families are in short supply.

And while it is too late to keep our employee, we are glad there is some good news on the horizon. Over the next three to five years, there should be a substantial boost in the number of single-family homes.

We don’t want to get too far out in front of the developers, but the interest in adding homes to this market is substantial.

Many wonder why subsidized housing can’t be pursued more aggressively. But state tax incentives, which allow builders to add housing at below market cost, are selective and rare. Developers have to jump through many hoops for the state to qualify for these incentives, and even then, the incentives are awarded on a limited basis, almost like a lottery.

McDonald Companies, Inc. applied for those to be able to offer sub-market rate rents for a portion of their apartments at North Llano Street and Lower Crabapple

Road, but were not awarded them. So, their 96 apartments and 48 townhomes are now market rate.

Yet even market rate apartments increase the supply, which has a downward effect on the overall market. (Though it’s not like rents will suddenly decrease hundreds of dollars per month due to developers’ fixed costs.)

There also, of course, are many highend developments in the works and these homes will serve the demand from another part of the market.

It’s no secret that so many properties which used to provide a home for working families have been taken off the market to supply the demand for bed-and-breakfast units. That tightened supply and contributed to the huge rise in property values (which also increased local tax bills).

But we are encouraged by these developers who want to contribute to our market. It’s no small investment to decide to build homes.

We hate to lose any vibrant, young family to market costs. But at least these in-demand, upcoming and in-progress projects are in the works. And they are appreciated. — K.E.C.