Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I am becoming increasingly concerned about the difficulties many working people are encountering in their quest for the American dream – home ownership.

Probably the most important factor is, as I have mentioned previously, wages have not kept up with land and construction costs. But there are additional factors that enter the picture – zoning regulations, density requirements, impact fees, and lack of incentives for developers to build smaller, more affordable homes. Several weeks ago, there was a feature article in the NW Arkansas times about this issue in Fayetteville, but the problem stretches across NW Arkansas.

In Fayetteville, a contributing factor is tree canopy regulations. I agree that an essential part of Fayetteville's flavor is the trees. On the one hand, the rules that developers must follow make sense to me. But conversely, following those rules costs a lot of money that gets added to the sales price of the home.

Impact fees provide the funding for roads, water and sewers, police and fire protection, public parks, etc. No one argues the necessity for this infrastructure but the impact fees add several thousand dollars to the cost of each and every new home built, regardless of the value of the home. Essentially this is a regressive tax. Why not have a sliding scale for impact fees? Lower the fees for an affordable home and increase the fees as the value of home increases.

If NW Arkansas is to continue growing and prospering, we must find a way for the average worker to own an average home. Lack of attainable housing for workers puts serious constraints on growth. Employers cannot fill jobs if the workers cannot afford to live within a reasonable distance of their workplace.

I frequently hear complaints from residents who don’t want lower-cost higher-density neighborhoods built next to their more affluent neighborhood. But let’s face facts, folks, not everyone has a high-paying job. We need people who are willing and able to work at ALL of the available jobs. We need truck drivers to bring food to stores, we need factory workers to build products, we need hospital and restaurant workers, janitors, daycare workers, construction workers, store clerks and thousands of other workers. Without these people, very few of us would want to live here. Let’s be realistic – the average worker needs and wants a home just as much as a more affluent person.

It is imperative that cities establish criteria and develop policies that will encourage and enable builders to build more modest homes. This situation deserves serious consideration and action now. Let’s not waste several more years while we just talk about the problem.

There are many ways to make housing more attainable for working people. Perhaps it’s time to consider neighborhoods with row houses. Or, consider detached homes with less space between each one. Duplexes or quadplexes would be another idea. Built more as permanent homes instead of basic rental units, these multi-unit homes would be affordable because the owners could live in one unit while rental income would provide funds for the mortgage payment.

Condos can be another affordable way to own a home. Developers, especially in Fayetteville, are building condos at a record pace, but I can’t think of any that will be for the average working person. In many other parts of the country condos are affordable and desirable. Building costs are less per square foot, outside maintenance is usually taken care of by the homeowner’s association, and many condo communities share amenities such as a swimming pool that the average person could not otherwise afford.

However, after all this is said, housing is available in NW Arkansas if you know how to find it. Currently, there are some 150 homes available for less than $150,000. This includes lovely, desirable resale homes and even some brand new homes. You can get more information about them by going to my home search websites at http://www.findfayettevillehomes.com/ or http://www.nwarkansashomesearch.com/.

To find out how much home you can afford based on your annual salary, go to http://www.findfayettevillehomes.com/ and click on "Home Buying Calculator" in the Info Center at the right of the home page. Take a look at some of the other information and calculators while you’re there.

I can help you find a home – this is exactly what I do. It’s my full-time career. I am a Accredited Buyer Representative® (ABR®) and I represent buyers at no extra cost (commissions for homes listed by a Realtor® are included in the selling price of the home.)

Contact me at judy@judyluna.com. Helping people find a home they want and can afford is the most satisfying part of my job. I would be happy to help you do the same.

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