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WNC Business

Industry Spotlight - Housing Market Pressure and Home Building Trends

Mar 08, 2023 01:55PM ● By Randee Brown

The North Carolina Home Builders Association announced a new president in December, Brandon Bryant of Red Tree Builders based in Asheville. The North Carolina HBA is the largest statewide association in the country with over 14,000 members, making up 10 percent of the entire country’s HBA members.

“Anyone can join their local HBA, and it’s easy to do,” Bryant said. “You simply have an exchange of money and a form. Businesses and organizations can join as well – A-B Tech is a member because of its construction management program.” 

Bryant said that during the pandemic, the region saw an increase in sales of both existing homes and new construction. “People keep wanting to move here,” he said. “People were selling their homes for gains, then the market went up and people didn’t want to sell anymore because they wouldn’t be able to replace the homes that they sold. Since there has been a deficit in available homes for purchase, people started looking for land to build. Homebuilding then saw an increase in interest and demand, and it was way more than we were ready for.”

Supply issues added to the supply-and-demand situation. “There were supply shortages everywhere,” Bryant said. “It has been hard to get fixtures, appliances, and even subfloor glue. There’s also a workforce shortage. We need more skilled trade workers, and that’s a problem not just here in WNC, but across the US.”

For 2023, Bryant said that the housing market will be interesting to watch. “The prices of housing are going down, and we need it to be back to a normal market,” he said. “ For building, costs are still going up. Prices are increasing for windows, parts, and products as well as for labor rates. Even though the lumber prices have come down from their peak, they are still double what they were pre-Covid.”

One solution that Bryant said he sees is to change what is selling and who is buying. “Land is at a premium around here, but there is not much development of duplexes, quadruplexes, or townhomes,” he said. “This is a huge opportunity for the marketplace. It can be an answer to the issues of both available space as well as affordability, and can maximize what builders can offer.

“There are additional advantages to this type of living for many people,” Bryant said. “This allows for higher density to conserve more greenspace, requires less maintenance for the owners, and can meet people where their lifestyle is while still allowing them to create wealth and financial freedom by investing in themselves.”

As a member of the Steering Committee of Buncombe County, Bryant has a wish to strike a balance between inviting people to the area to live and work and also protecting the land. “Good planning is essential,” he said. “We are having that conversation here in Buncombe County, planning up to 30 years down the road. The new Comprehensive Plan 2043 contains many strategies that will begin being implemented in 2023.”

While the upward trend is huge in Asheville, Hendersonville, and Transylvania County, areas like Old Fort, Canton, and Madison and Yancey Counties are seeing upward momentum in the housing market as well, according to Bryant. “In these places, certain price brackets offer more options. You can get more for your money, which is great for the high numbers of members of the workforce that I see spreading to these outlying areas.”