Courtesy Pixabay Khris Hale

The impact of the pandemic is unfortunately leaving more and more retail locations empty. Some housing developers are seizing on that opportunity to repurpose the real estate for more affordable housing. Here, Urban Land shares how two developers are making it happen.

Solutions are slowly emerging as builders attempt to deliver housing that meets the strong demand from middle-class Americans who struggle to afford a home purchase.

Vast portions of the U.S. population are from middle-class households earning $100,000 or less annually, and this means they typically are limited to buying homes priced between $200,000 and $350,000, said Adam Ducker, senior managing director and director of urban real estate and public strategies at RCLCO Real Estate Advisors.

Even though demand is strong, builders are constructing very few homes at the low end of the price range, said Ducker, who called the situation “a significant mismatch” between supply and demand.

Ducker told an audience at the 2020 ULI Housing Conference in Miami in February that the problem is not confined to urban coastal markets. “This is a universal problem in all parts of the nation,” he said.

Finding ways to reduce land costs is one key to delivering attainable housing.

One Florida developer, Miami-based 13th Floor Investments, discovered a bargain-priced niche of land inventory—underused golf courses, said Michael Nunziata, division president of the firm’s homebuilding company, 13th Floor Homes.

The redevelopment of golf courses, which typically cover more than 100 acres (41 ha), requires extensive communication and political negotiations with nearby homeowners and community officials, Nunziata said. But the firm has registered strong sales by building attainable single-family houses on narrow lots less than 30 feet (9 m) wide on land that used to be fairways and putting greens.

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