LETTER: Focus on home ownership

Being in the residential construction industry, I see the ups and downs of the real estate market maybe a little more than the average homeowner. And being an employer, I also see the struggles of people young and old with financial issues. 

In a recent letter to the editor in the Keizertimes (Jan. 22, 2021) I was chastised for saying in a city council work session where we were talking about what could be done to help with home ownership in our area, that I felt young people needed to change their mindset on home ownership and focus to make it a goal. 

I was not saying this was the only reason people are not able to get to be homeowners. What I wanted to point out was that I noticed back years ago when I started hiring employees that entry level laborers/carpenters at that time started out at around $12 hour (minimum wage was around $7.25 at the time). I noticed that as employees moved up in pay they would spend as much as they made buying toys and new cars and did not think about the future, including home ownership. And when they finally thought about buying a home they were in debt and it could take five years or more to get out of debt so they could start saving for a down payment. 

I have talked to many employees over the years about this and most did not realize what an important investment purchasing a house was. They usually just felt that they could stay in an apartment and keep their cost down, not thinking about that rent being increased over the years. I would tell them that when purchasing a house your payment does not go up, taxes and insurance certainly do but the payment does not.

My point was that I was seeing young people not feel that they needed to or that they could purchase a house. Yes, it is not easy starting out thinking about the long term, but I believe if we can give young people the vision or the goal of home ownership and that it is a wise investment that they could strive for as they work up in their jobs. 

This is not always attainable; people have different needs and different circumstances but if we can give people the information on how to plan and set goals towards home ownership it could help them with long term success. I am not sure what is taught in high school economics, but from what I have been told by one of my kids that graduated from McNary in the last five years, that they were not even taught how to fill out a check let alone given the instruction of how important home ownership could be to their long-term personal wealth. 

Right now, home buyers could be in a great position to purchase a home if they can find one they can afford, but if they have not been preparing they may miss the low interest rates on mortgages that we have had in the last few years.

I know there are some incentive programs out there for first time home buyers that can help them get into a home. I recently read that our new president has proposed a $15,000 first-time home buyer tax credit. There are also other mortgage tax credits, down payment assistance grants, state and federal programs available. I know of local realtors that do classes on how to prepare and plan to buy a home. I would like to see everyone have the opportunity for home ownership. I believe it can be an exceptionally large benefit in a person’s long term financial outlook.

I completely understand that in Keizer this is almost a non-attainable reality due to the high cost of homes and limited supply but that doesn’t mean we can’t help inform people that it can be attainable in the future, it may take longer or that they may have to find a home outside Keizer or Salem (USDA loans for rural areas) which is sad to think because I myself enjoy living and working in Keizer. 

I do think we need to work to find ways to alleviate the rent burden and the increasing cost of home ownership in Keizer, but without more property to build homes on and with more people willing to live in the Keizer area and drive to work in the metro area, our cost of homes will increase. The local housing market has faced a major inventory shortage and with more demand from commuters and prospective new home buyers without addressing the supply will push home prices up at a faster rate.

Therefore it is crucial that we here in Keizer work towards adding developable land in Keizer whether it be keeping up the work to expand the Urban Growth Boundary or help with creative ways to incentivize more dense owner-occupied construction. This is something that could be looked at by having land restrictions eased through legislation. I do hope there are ways to slow this real estate cost explosion down.

(Kyle Juran owns Remodeling by Classic Homes and is a Keizer City Councilor.)