One very appealing attribute this region offers is one few seem to talk about very often.
This asset is our low cost of housing in the Tri-State. A new story on the cost of housing across America — the details of which were published by CBS News — goes in-depth on how expensive housing has become across the nation and puts the value of our local market in the proper perspective. The CBS story also reaffirms what a value can be had here when it comes to buying a home in our view.
Now, we are sure some may disagree with us. Some might be rolling their eyes at this contention. If you are currently renting, your cost of housing rarely, if ever, feels cheap. And, to use the words “low cost” and “housing” in the same sentence these days in America to many may seem like a complete contradiction.
However, work with us here while we make our case. In the context of the housing market nationwide, housing here is cheap. Very cheap. We’ve written about this before and we are writing about it again today because we believe it is very important — important for prosperity, the local economy and for our local residents looking to somehow get ahead when it comes to getting out of poverty. There are few potential wealth builders available to Americans like owning your own home. You can, of course, lose your shirt in real estate, and there is always risk, but if you get in when housing prices are cheap and purchase a decent, quality home, well, there is a good chance you will enjoy the ride upward over time. We believe this opportunity exists right now in Carter County and surrounding communities.
Last year, the median price of home sales in our area was up 6 percent, from $99,788 in 2017 to $105,786 in 2018 through November. Total monetary volume was up 33 percent, from $95.4 million in 2017 to $126.8 million through November. It does take some time to sell a home here — average days on the market was at about 156 days here, but patience is a virtue.
There are also some dynamics here that, in our humble opinion, make now the time to get into the housing market if you aren't already. One is the most obvious — Carter County is a gorgeous, exemplary place to live, yet very few people outside of Kentucky know about it. This will one day change. In fact, we think it is changing right now.
Another variable is the community is on the upswing overall. It seems to be getting better every day. Infrastructure is being improved. Local governments are working together.
The region has endured brutally tough economic times and job losses. In our view, the prospectus for the future is looking up.
Another dynamic is the fact that the housing stock, especially new construction, is low while job growth appears to be on the horizon. Big-time job growth potential also does exist here. The vibe is in the air. If Braidy Industries happens the way it is projected to happen, housing values could very easily jump. Of course, this may not happen.
There is risk that it won’t. But what is the worst case scenario here? Job growth remains stagnant or declines — the projections don’t match reality — and you still bought a home that is likely based on history to slowly gain value over time? This seems like a no-brainer to us with lots of upside potential.
Put this scenario and the raw numbers up against the content of the CBS story. Across America, 70 percent of Americans can no longer afford a home. Out of 473 U.S. counties analyzed, 335 listed median home prices more than what average wage earners could afford, according to a report from ATTOM Data Solutions. In San Francisco, residents must spend 103 percent, and in Hawaii’s Maui County, it takes 101 percent. In nearby Cincinnati, the median price of a home is now approaching $150,000. In Columbus, Ohio, it is $154,000. It is even higher in Lexington — approaching $182,000. In Louisville, it is $158,900.
We writers are no math whizzes, but it doesn't take a whiz to look at these numbers and figure out the trends.
These lower-than-the-rest housing costs are an asset to the region. We may be proven wrong over time, and as we said earlier — investing in housing involves risk — but we think we’ve got this one right.