Letter to the Council: PGCAR believes legislation poses a number of practical concerns
Dear Chair Ivey,
The Prince George’s County Association of REALTORS® (PGCAR) Legislative Committee has reviewed CB-52-2023, Townhouse and Townhouse-Related Uses – Temporary Limitation on Development. As the largest trade association in Prince George’s County, representing approximately 4,000 members, I wish to inform you of our OPPOSITION.
We believe this legislation poses a number of practical concerns with regard to development within the County. The effort to limit development and townhome construction is counterproductive to our local housing needs. Where we support incentivizing residential development at our transit hubs, we are extremely concerned by this effort to restrict town home development in other areas of the County. We have a housing shortage in the DC metro area, not to mention, a severe affordable housing shortage. There is very much a "missing middle" in our housing landscape. Townhomes are often that "middle" market product sought after by singles, first-time home buyers, young families, and workforce housing. Stifling this option will drive up the cost of our existing housing stock and lessen opportunity for homeownership and generational wealth building.
We are in the midst of a housing crisis. According to Freddie Mac and the National Association of REALTORS®, Maryland is facing a housing shortage of over 120,000 homes. That’s a 50% increase from 2020 when the shortage was at 82,000. If we carry through the current trend, by 2026, Maryland’s housing shortage will approach nearly 200,000 homes.
In a survey conducted by American Strategies for the Maryland REALTORS® 2023 Survey of Maryland voters, 76% of survey respondents indicated that the cost to buy a home is too high, and 44% said there were too few homes available to buy, both up significantly since 2020. The lack of inventory to meet the demand for Prince George’s County homes remains a concern. Where a healthy County spring market typically offers about 1600 homes “for sale” per month, we are seeing consistent numbers in the low 800’s. This translates to the largest increase in the number of middle-income households having difficulty finding and affording homes, from 46% in 2020 to 61% in 2023.
Part of this shortage is due to a lack of missing middle housing options. Theses are homes (i.e., townhouses, duplexes, triplexes, cottage clusters, etc.) that are compatible in scale with existing single-family residences but provide more diversity in home sizes and price points. A focus on the missing middle is necessary to help meet the growing demand for urban living by providing diverse housing options that support urban communities. Missing middle housing is generally more affordable, as it is simpler and less expensive to build than larger scale housing development and is highly marketable to a range of buyers from millennials to boomers.
While other jurisdictions have taken steps to eliminate restrictive zoning rules, we need to rethink housing, rethink zoning to encourage growth in the County. The Association supports policies that encourage housing opportunities, economic development and necessary education and transportation infrastructure while protecting the quality of life that makes Prince George’s County a desirable place to live.
It is important to note that neither Plan Prince George’s 2035, which includes comprehensive recommendations for guiding future development within Prince George’s County nor the Comprehensive Housing Strategy Housing For All that was completed in 2021, recommended any housing policies of this magnitude.
As a result of the proposed legislation, residents will potentially suffer from the inability to find housing, the deficit of available housing will increase, home prices will escalate effectively pricing out potential residents who will, inevitably, select other counties as their residence, and Prince George’s will likely suffer in its ability to support the population growth and diversity needed to typically retain/and or attract and grow commercial, retail and business development within the County.
The sale or purchase of a home is one of the most significant events in a person or a family’s life. It shapes the hopes, dreams, aspirations, and economic destiny of those involved. Homeownership builds stronger, safer, and healthier communities and gives families a greater sense of freedom, security empowerment, and independence. Owning a home is also one of the keys to financial independence, security, and generational wealth building.
As we recognize this month (June) as National Homeownership Month, REALTORS® care greatly about the communities in which we live and work and recognize that there remains work that still needs to be done and are committed to educating and promoting homeownership opportunities for all. Where people live has a direct impact on the quality of their health, education, and access to economic opportunities. Please help us keep Prince George’s County “open” for home ownership opportunity.
We encourage an UNFAVORABLE vote on CB-52-2023.
Thank you for your consideration of our position.
Michael A. Graziano
Executive Vice President
Prince George's County Association of REALTORS
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