Terwilliger Center Explores Shortage of Attainable Housing

The ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing partnered with ULI Sustaining Member RCLCO Real Estate Advisors to explore the shortage of attainable housing in urban areas in Attainable Housing: Challenges, Perceptions, and Solutions, a publication that adds to the member-informed research published regularly by the center to demonstrate the key role housing plays in thriving, sustainable communities.

The report is based on real estate economic data and two surveysa national consumer preference survey conducted by RCLCO, and a survey of ULI’s Community Development Council (CDC), a group of leading members who share best practices in the planning, financing, and development of master-planned communities throughout the United States. 

Findings from the surveys indicate that even though attainable housing represents as much as 60 percent of market demand in some markets, supply constraints are driving up prices on virtually all for-sale housing and causing lowercost, entry-level product to all but vanish. A trend of bigger homes with multiple bedrooms has coincided with a trend of decreasing household sizes, creating a growing mismatch of product to demand, the report notes.  

  • A recent study by the Urban Land Institute showed that creation of new attainable housing has dried up in recent decades, replaced by the construction of larger, more expensive homes. 

    The New York Times, June 2019

The report provides several recommendations and strategies for increasing the attainable housing stock:

– continual product innovation to improve offerings;
– combining of product types in developments;
– effective marketing to build community support;
commitment to entitlement and design;
creation of small homes or simplified variations of core brand;
creation of “missing middle” attached housing; and
construction of more clustered housing. 

Support for Attainable Housing was provided by gift to the ULI Foundation from the late Robert M. Sharpededicated Institute leader who served as a ULI trustee, ULI Foundation governorand Terwilliger Center advisory board member. He was managing partner of Rancho Sahuarita Company in Tucson, Arizona. 

When the report was published, Sharpe noted, “As master-planned community developers, we have attempted to find and implement the best, most sustainable ways to meet the housing and community lifestyle needs of the first-time homebuyer. With rising costs, lack of available skilled labor, and increased regulations, we have seen firsthand how difficult it can be to deliver product for this growing market. This report highlights insights from developers and builders across the country in order to share best practices and lessons learned on achieving attainable housing. 

Find Attainable Housing: Challenges, Perceptions, and Solutions and other housing research in Knowledge Finder. 

Find housing experts in the Member Directory. 

Give to ULI’s Annual Fund and the ULI Foundation to support ULI’s housing research.  

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