Housing Controversy 2008 for Bristol Virginia-Tennessee

by Lewis Loflin

To quote the Bristol Herald Courier editorial July 31, 2005:

Buying that first home, the embodiment of the American dream, is becoming a struggle in Bristol...should not be confused with affordable. In fact, unless you just inherited a sack of money from a rich uncle, it can be a lengthy search. So forgive me if I'm not all that excited by the news that area home builders can't construct new homes in the $350,000-plus category, some would call them McMansions, fast enough to suit the well-heeled retirees moving to our area. How many Bristol area residents who are still working for a living can afford such a princely sum? Not many, as it turns out...

According to Networks of Tennessee:

2008 Building Activity: In 2008, the dollar value of building activity in Sullivan County ($282,453,642) represented a 29.6 percent increase over the average dollar value ($218,008,194.25) of building activity from the previous four years (2004-07). Much of this larger investment can be attributed to the continued growth of retail (low-wage jobs) developments in Kingsport and several office buildings, including the Higher Education Center (government) in downtown Kingsport...

The composition of the market also changed somewhat this past year. Bristol continued to see growth in new, single-family housing units in 2008, although the value of that housing was much less when compared to previous years. In addition, fewer homes exceeding $300,000 were built in 2008. In 2008, the average cost for a new, single-family house built in Sullivan County, excluding land, was $115,551 per unit. This represents approximately a 22 percent decrease in new housing costs from 2007. Prior to 2008, housing had experienced a steady increase in pricing.

Much of the construction is by illegal aliens, not local people according to those I've spoken to and seen myself. But in residential construction in Johnson City, new building permits fell from an average 130 per month to eight in January 2009. What is not mentioned is many of the workers in those low-wage retail industries can't afford homes, it's being driven by move-in retirees.

What does Greg Cox Real Estate and Prudential have to say about this region in 2008?

Bristol compared to Virginia state average:

Bristol compared to Tennessee state average


Not for the Working Poor

Bristol, TN A payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement has been approved for Milligan Housing for the Elderly of Bristol Inc., which will build a 20-unit housing complex. They will construct one-bedroom apartments for elderly tenants on a large lot at the end of the street behind Kmart off West State Street. The corporation will receive financing from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant. (Welfare) According to HUD payment standards, the nonprofit must provide annual payments to the city and Sullivan County.

The nonprofit, sponsored by Milligan College in Carter County, has constructed three other complexes with Section 202 grants. Under terms of the grant, the nonprofit can choose to pay a maximum of 10 percent of the rent collected from residents - a method HUD calls "shelter rent." The payment made will depend on the number of tenants and the amount of rent charged. Ref. BHC October 14, 2008

Again, the City supports government housing for the elderly, not for the working poor.

Kingsport-Bristol housing prices still inflating, rate of growth in Johnson City, Morristown areas slows

The 2nd quarter OFHEO Housing Price Index report shows that while the nation is still in a down housing market housing prices are holding their ground in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA. Housing Price Index increased to 1.51 percent. It was 0.62 percent in the first quarter. That increase ranked the Kingsport-Bristol MSA the 14th best in the nation.

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