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Where’s Bill Levitt When We Need Him?
Frank Anton / BUILDER / April 3, 2013
The housing industry could use a modern-day version of the original king of low-cost housing.
Not surprisingly the homeownership rate of Americans with family incomes of more than $50,000 is higher than the homeownership rate of families with lower incomes. (An aside: 90% of households with incomes greater than $150,000 own a home!) And not surprisingly most builders target higher-income buyers, which is one reason the median price of a new home is about $230,000 and was as high as $270,000 in 2005.
I bet Bill Levitt, were he alive today, would see the situation as an opportunity. Remember, during the early post-World War II era, he was selling 800 square foot houses for $7000 to $8000 (see photo). Monthly payments were as low as $57, which is one reason he sold almost 200,000 of them.
Of course now no builder can duplicate those numbers. But if almost every auto manufacturer can build small, appealing, dependable, fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive care for less than $17,000, why can’t more builders build compact, energy-efficient, nicely-designed houses that cost $100,000 to $150,000.
If you did, more lower-income Americans would be proud homeowners, and more builders would be building more houses.