Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Responding to the housing crisis: Thinking BIG

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By Melissa Butler

I’ve been playing the Powerball and Mega Millions the last few weeks: prizes are up near half a billion dollars, and the daydreams of how I would spend that money on my morning commute are well-worth the price of a ticket. The opportunity to spread random acts of kindness alongside organized philanthropy comprises most of these fantasies. A recent configuration involves giving cash offers to buy local houses at near asking price, and then selling them back at their true value to families who can’t match the inflated market or AirBnB offers.

For example, my family just paid over $300,000 for a home that, 2 years ago, would go for about $175,000, and it really isn’t worth much more than that, but we were desperate after a year-long fruitless search.

In this scenario, the imagined organization would buy the house for 300 grand, then turn and list it for 175. Now, this lottery–fueled fantasy means that my millions invested would be covering my losses quicker than I could buy houses, but, at the same time, it has me thinking about the possibility of those that have the means or the know-how coming together to create such an organization. Do we have regional community members who would be interested in some ideation of this (naive) plan? Are there government resources to help fund the gaps between purchasing and selling costs of each property? Even if this group purchased (or flipped) 2 houses per year, could families enter a lottery for the chance to buy them at the true assessed value? I mean, just in case I don’t win the lottery tonight.

Editor’s note: This was originally published by Adirondack Center for Writing as part of ANCA’s Dreaming of Home project. The prompt: Do you have ideas about programs or practices that might work to mitigate the housing crisis in the Adirondacks? Think as big or as small as you like.

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3 Responses

  1. Josh says:

    Make it easy and legal to split large homes into apartments, build accessory dwelling units, and to build multi-family homes on small lots. Tax short-term rentals like businesses if the owner doesn’t live on the premises. Raise the tax rate on second homes that aren’t occupied year-round. When I grew up the economy wasn’t doing too well and many homes and garages had been converted into multi-unit rentals. Today, most of those places have been converted back to single family homes, and many are 100% short-term rentals. The population of my one small city block is probably 50% of what it was in the 1960s because there just aren’t as many units.

  2. jj says:

    You described a benevolent non profit plan. But putting that non profit concept aside, skilled high tech jobs, and trade schools would close the gap also from the income end. We need skilled tradespeople to repair the old homes too. It is possible to make a good living in the trades plumbing, roofing, carpentry and electric.

    In addiction, high tech jobs too are very possible with the right corporate investors up north. The old iconic industries NYS workforce; IBM, Kodak, Corning flourished in the NYS workforce.Computer chip investment is hopefully something the north country could benefit from too. Affordability is a multifaceted solution.


  3. Richard Stevens says:

    Interesting idea, but if you bought a house for $300,000 and sold it for $175,000, you can be sure that some investor would swoop in with an all-cash offer and flip it for $300,000.

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