While homeowners benefit from the equity they gain as prices rise, affordability for first time buyers has been a concern that affects the health of all markets.   In, California, the nation’s most populous state, it goes beyond concern – it’s a big problem.   Lawmakers in California have worried over this for a long time, afraid that companies will move out, young people won’t be able to afford to buy homes and stay in the state, older people will move as they retire, and in the long term California will suffer.    

It’s not a problem only felt in the west.  Available inventory in real estate has been at low levels across the country for a while now, and prices are rising everywhere.  And when people do decide to leave an expensive area to seek more affordable housing, what happens to prices where they go?  Well, look at the example of Austin, Texas – while still more affordable than many areas of California, a recent influx of new residents coming from the west coast and other expensive areas are drawn to a vibrant growing area with initially less expensive home prices.  As they flood in, they’re driving demand, and therefore prices, upward quickly.  When affordability is a problem for one area, it can affect others.

Friday, California’s governor signed into law a massive package of legislation (15 bills! ) all aimed at providing more affordable housing in the state, and streamlining developments and construction.   The housing bills provide new funding for low-income housing development, seek to lower the overall cost of construction, fast-track building, and restrict the ability of cities and counties to block new development in their local areas.

Whether these new laws will actually give the help they’re designed to or not remains to be seen (and will take time to play out), but with a housing market as large as California’s, and one with so many roadblocks to new building and affordability, something needed to change.    If California passes laws that show promise in one way or another, other states may follow suit, tailoring them to their own specific problems, and maybe improving upon them (we can hope).

Are you a first time buyer?  What’s been your experience in seeking an affordable home in your area?   Have you moved from one area to another to seek better prices, or are thinking about it?  Maybe it’s time to let us help you find what you’re looking for.  Respond in the comments below with your own story, or contact us today with any of your Real Estate needs!