Week of May 8, 2000
  Snapshot from the Field

NAR Study: No-Growth Policies Jack Up Housing Prices

With the run of economic prosperity stretching out to unprecedented lengths, it's no surprise that no-growth policies have grown increasingly popular. But those policies also appreciably increase housing costs and they limit prospective first-time buyers' ability of to afford homes, according to a new U.S. survey commissioned by the National Assn. of Realtors (NAR at www.nar.realtor.com).

The NAR survey results were recently released at a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The results came from a survey of 1,000 U.S. voters that was conducted by Alexandria, Va.-based Public Opinion Strategies in February of 2000.

The NAR-commissioned survey found that 60 percent of renters and 55 percent of homeowners "believe restrictions or limits on growth have contributed to housing price increases." And 74 percent of renters said that "higher housing costs could prevent [them] from buying their first home."

In addition, 70 percent of the surveyed homeowners said "higher housing costs could prevent [them] from buying a better home in a nicer area."

Survey Part of Realtors' Efforts To Get Involved in Growth Issues

Speaking at the press conference, NAR President Dennis R. Cronk, a commercial Realtor from Roanoke, Va., asserted, "The ability of local governments to meet the challenge of rapid growth affects not only our business, but the vital interests of our clients and customers -- home owners, property owners and tenants. We don't just sell homes -- we sell neighborhoods." Though Cronk didn't mention it, those higher housing prices can also play havoc with transferring employees into a new location. And higher housing costs can also spur some labor to look for work in nearby, less expensive areas.

The latest survey is part of the extensive research NAR has conducted over the past year for a new initiative to encourage realtors' involvement in local growth-related issues and "to help communities manage growth successfully," association officials say. As Cronk explained. "We are working with state and local realtor organizations to launch an unprecedented, comprehensive program to help policy-makers address the challenge of growth through local decision-making, research, sharing of expertise, creative problem-solving and community consensus."

Other Findings: Safety, Schools and Affordability
Top Factors in Choosing Areas to Live In

Other findings in the NAR survey included:

  • Public safety, good schools and affordability remain the top reasons for deciding where to live. Growth concerns are "at the bottom of the list," the NAR maintains;
  • 95 percent said "neighbors and local governments, not states or the federal government, should make decisions concerning growth and related issues;"
  • 68 percent said "market forces, rather than governments, should regulate factors concerning growth;" and
  • 75 percent of the sample said "governmental policies should employ incentives rather than penalties to encourage communities to plan in ways that prevent growth-related problems."

NAR Official: RE Pros 'Have Responsibility
To Promote Sound, Prudent Growth"

Obviously, the NAR is largely a pro-growth group. And it's impossible to ascertain how scientifically rigorous, or not, the methodology was behind this survey.

Nonetheless, Denver-based realtor Ronald Myles, chair of NAR's Presidential Advisory Committee on Smart Growth, made a forceful point when he asserted, "The real estate industry has an important stake in well-planned growth. Since land use decisions directly affect quality of life, as well real estate development costs, real estate professionals have a responsibility to promote sound and fiscally prudent land use policies."



©2000 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.