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The Challenges in Affordable Housing Supply

Monday, May 06, 2024 | By Terra Caribbean Trinidad
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The Challenges in Affordable Housing Supply

The Challenges in Affordable Housing Supply

On April 13th, Republic Bank and My Bunch of Keys collaborated for the Make It Happen home ownership event, which hosted over 30 Real Estate agencies, developers, lawyers and valuers and Republic Bank mortgage officers. While the event garnered a lot of media attention, and was well attended by prospective buyers, it shed light on several key issues.

Firstly, while there is significant demand for housing, there is a shortage of affordable options for the current market. Another key observation was the lack of knowledge among prospective buyers, indicating a need for improved education about the home buying process. Lastly, many potential buyers are constrained by budget limitations, emphasizing the importance of affordability in the housing market.

Understanding these market conditions is crucial for both buyers and sellers, as they directly affect pricing, negotiations, and housing trends. The disparity between demand and supply, influenced by various factors, is not always readily resolvable. Involving multiple stakeholders in the real estate process, from ready buyers to achieving the perfect balance of competitive interest rates, and ample market supply, to create a favourable buying environment can feel almost impossible.

Developers, who play a significant role in shaping the real estate market, directly affect the supply on the market. However, several challenges often restrict their ability to meet demand:

  • Construction Costs

The cost of construction materials and labour is a significant factor affecting housing supply. Fluctuations in material prices, such as lumber, concrete, and steel, can impact the feasibility of development projects, while supply chain disruptions, like those experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, can exacerbate delays and increase costs, making it challenging for developers to offer affordable housing options.

  • Limited Land Availability

Scarcity of available, buildable land is a fundamental issue that constrains supply. This scarcity drives up land prices, making it economically unfeasible for developers to undertake new projects. While there is potential to rezone a small percentage of land from agricultural to residential, the limited availability of land contributes to the gap between buyers’ and sellers’ markets.

  • Land Use Policies

Zoning regulations and land use policies can hinder the development of affordable housing. In some areas, restrictive zoning laws limit the types of housing that can be built, favouring single-family homes over multifamily or mixed-use developments. Revising these policies to encourage denser, more diverse housing options could help increase supply and affordability.

  • Financing Challenges

Securing financing for development projects, especially for affordable housing initiatives, can be challenging. Developers may face difficulties obtaining loans or attracting investors due to perceived risks or regulatory requirements. Streamlining financing options and offering incentives for affordable housing development could help overcome these barriers.

  • Bureaucracy

Navigating regulatory hurdles and obtaining permits can be time-consuming and costly for developers. The certification of infrastructure works amongst other bureaucratic processes can slow down construction and completion of projects. While an online system has been implemented and is being streamlined, adoption has been slow by all statutory bodies, further delaying the completion process and increasing costs to developers.

Developers face numerous challenges, including logistical issues, bureaucratic hurdles, and limited land availability, which restrict their ability to meet demand. Addressing these challenges requires collaboration among developers, policymakers, community stakeholders, and financial institutions. By working together to overcome barriers to affordable housing supply, we can create more inclusive and resilient communities for everyone.

If you're a new developer, contact us today to start a conversation and discover how Terra Caribbean can partner with you to make your development a success.

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