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Gaps in Franklins housing market examined

Gaps in the availability of affordable housing options and senior housing in Franklin’s steadily growing real estate market emerged as themes during the first round of talks during the city’s Housing Needs Analysis community input meetings held Wednesday morning at City Hall.
Meetings began again this morning at 7:30 a.m. as members of the city’s Housing Commission, major employer representatives, elected officials and city staff participated in individual input sessions throughout the day. Click here to view the complete schedule.
A final public meeting will be held tonight at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Boardroom.
Numerous community leaders such as developers, realtors and nonprofit organization leaders gathered on the first of a two-day project to provide input for BBC, a Denver-based consulting firm hired by the city to conduct the analysis. 
The purpose of the study is to assist decision-makers stakeholders and citizens with understanding key housing issues; providing a measured assessment of present and future unmet housing demand; and offering strategies and actions for a housing plan. 
Some demographic findings that presenters shared is that although Franklin’s median home value is $419,600, the demand for more housing options in a more affordable range for the city’s growing work force and seniors exists. 
Specifically, BBC representatives shared that since 2000 the city’s adult population between 45-64 years of age has jumped nine percent, according to U.S. Census data.
According to BBC representatives, about 43,000 commuters enter Franklin city lines each day, many of whom cannot afford to live [rent or own] in the city, although they make up about 85 percent of the work force.
Many rental options are priced higher than what prospective renters can afford, representatives shared. They added, however, that condos could offer a more affordable option for some who wish to buy with a median value of $214,000.
Existing rental options in the city are many times priced at more than 30 percent of the current renter’s gross income, according to BBC data.
Representatives explained that according to statistics, a renter would have to make about $42,000 per year to supplement Franklin’s median gross rental value of $1,040. 
Input from realtors who participated today suggested that the city’s current housing stock does not provide adequate options in the lower priced home range.
Some realtors agreed.
“In my experience, affordable housing in Franklin has not been desirable [for buyers in that market],” Realtor Monica Neubauer said.
She explained that many choices in Franklin that fall within that range tend to be dated buildings consisting of little renovation, explaining that homebuyers opt to buy in more affordable areas such as Spring Hill where they can get more square footage and amenities for their money.
“People decide to go to Spring Hill where home options are larger [square footage] and in better condition, and the trade-off is the commute,” Neubauer said.
She also stated that decisions depend on the desire of the buyer. “Do they want less amenities with a location in Franklin or are they willing to make a trade off and go somewhere else to get more of what they want?”
“If a $325,000 single family home is put on the market, ‘Bam’ it sells the next day,” she said. 
Realtors mentioned that some current homeowners believe Franklin already has enough rental options and they resist more affordable developments because of fears that home values would decrease.
However, presenter Heidi Aggeller, managing director of BBC Research and Consulting, said that no significant findings in current housing research show that low-income housing and rental property contribute to a decrease in home values. 
“The citizens have to decide what kind of city they want—the kind that provides housing for workers such as teachers and police officers or do they want them to commute in. It’s up to the people of Franklin. We’ve done enough talking about it. These statistics have emerged for years. Let’s take action,” said Steve Murray, executive director of Community Housing Partnership. 
“This [housing analysis] is very needed,” said Allison King, Government Affairs and Communications Director of the Williamson County Association of Realtors. “This is one small step toward a bigger vision and healthy planning.”

See HOUSING ANALYSIS for related story.

Posted on: 1/8/2014


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