Columbia leaders: Affordable housing "harder and harder" to come by

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COLUMBIA - Columbia hosted the Fair Housing & Lending Seminar early Friday morning at city hall. The Seminar aimed to discuss fair housing and lending laws, initial implicit bias and affordable housing.

Rose Wibbenmeyer, assistant city counselor, said the seminar was needed because of the high demand for affordable housing in Columbia.

“It’s becoming harder and harder in this community for many people to afford housing,” Wibbenmeyer said.

She said the demand for affordable housing exceeds the supply and the city does not offer enough opportunities to provide necessary housing.

“We do have some programs, but there’s not enough programs available for the need,” Wibbenmeyer said.

Local realtor Lisa Meyer of MeyerWorks, LLC said few houses listed under $100 thousand were available in Columbia.

“Right now, we only have about 60 homes in the Columbia Board of Realtors MLS,” Meyer said.

If buyers are interested in a three-bedroom, two-bath home for $100 thousand or less, Meyer said, none are available at this time.

“For a while now, we’ve had this challenge to find homes that are $100 thousand or less, that are meeting the needs for today’s families,” Meyer said.

Missouri Realtors reports a decrease in houses listed on the market since 2014. In 2016, 28,277 homes were listed compared to 33,019 in 2014.

Despite the decrease in listings, almost one thousand more homes sold in 2016 compared to 2014. The average selling price of homes increased over the two-year time period as well.

Meyer said the statistics indicate a seller’s market. She said higher home price listings mean clients might have to walk away from bidding wars.

“It’s okay to walk away,” Meyer said. “I think it’s important not to get too emotional when purchasing homes.”

Despite the limited number of affordable homes on the market, Meyer said she is not discouraged.  

“We’re just going to keep looking to find the right home,” Meyer said. “It’s going to take patience and perseverance.”

Although Columbia continues to search for methods to increase affordable housing, John Sebree, CEO of Missouri Realtors, said Missouri’s home prices are cheaper than national prices.