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Salina among communities impacted by historic shortage of available homes for sale

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Nationwide, for homebuyers in the market, it’s been a difficult search as the U.S. sees a historic shortage of available homes for sale. In Kansas, Salina is seeing that supply-and-demand problem playing out.

If you’re in Salina and searching for a home, you’re on a search that’s leaving many striking out.

“(It’s) one of those markets where about every price range is short on inventory,” said Coldwell Banker APW Realtors Broker Chris Rost. “For buyers, it’s difficult. For sellers, it’s a gravy train.”

Rost, a broker in Salina, said in his nearly 20 years in the business, this is new territory.

“Right now, there’s 28 active homes on the market in Salina. I a more normal market, we would see 170 to 200,” he said. “So we’re at less than half a month’s supply.”

Rost said in the Salina area, a balanced market would be three to five months. What’s driving this is low interest rates, nonstop demand during the pandemic and new construction struggling to keep pace. In Salina, there are also some significant economic development projects creating new jobs.

“Nine-hundred (new) employees in the next three years. If we look at what we need in housing the next five, our consultant is saying we need roughly 1,000 units, so 500 in the rental category and 500 in the ownership,” said Salina Community and Development Services Director Lauren Driscoll.

In Salina, 1 Vision Aviation opened a few years ago and continues to hire. Schwan’s is working on an expansion of its plant to create 225 new jobs and Great Plains Manufacturing is adding another 120.

“I look at these as exciting times and I think these are solvable problems and we’re kind of on the brink of solving that,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll is working with a consultant to update the city’s housing plan. That includes looking at incentives for builders facing higher expenses.

“Particularly construction costs right now. I’m hearing metal or steel in particular, concrete and timber are on the rise and so that’s really affecting the viability of projects,” she said.

Rost said, “The builders have picked up pace because they’re selling quickly. We got a couple, more than a couple that are being contracted right now and they won’t be finished until November.”

The City of Salina is hoping to finalize what the updated housing plan will look like by late spring or early summer.

Driscoll said, “Just rather than kind of handing out incentives left and right, the idea is what incentive works for the best project that goes to the demographics in the plan. That’s kind of what this is all about, so you bring that all together in a policy to help, so there’s some assurity developers willing to invest, what tools do you have available, what’s the city’s commitment to using those types of incentives and how do we move forward.”

You can see the presentation from the latest meeting on the housing plan here: Housing Development Opportunities Study Session Presentation. There are two more study session meetings set for April 19 and May 10.

For homebuyers, the best advice is to remain patient. One concern for the real estate industry is how long the current condition can be sustained.

Rost said, “Long term, the concern is I don’t see how we can sustain this kind of appreciation over a really long time because your employment opportunities and your wages don’t go up at that kind of rate.”

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