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Housing Committee Hears from Robert Dietz, NAHB Chief Economist

By July 1, 2021 No Comments

On June 3, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing hosted an informational hearing for the members of the committee. Among the invited speakers, were Robert Dietz, Ph.D., Chief Economist and Senior V.P. for Economics and Housing Policy for the National Association of Home Builders. Rob Dietz is the nation’s leading expert on housing economics.

The Joint Committee on Housing is co-chaired by Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy) and Rep. James Arciero (D-Westford). The committee is responsible to reviewing and making recommendations to the full Legislature on all bills related to housing production, preservation and stability.

In his presentation, Dietz reviewed housing affordability in the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area, highlighting the racial disparity in homeownership. While the homeownership rate in Massachusetts is 62%, it is only 36% for Blacks and 28% for Hispanics. The average sales price of a new home in Massachusetts is $538,000, which is significantly higher than the national average of $340,000. Given the lack of supply and that mortgage interest rates will trend higher as the economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic, housing affordability will remain a major social problem in the Commonwealth.

Some of the current challenges facing the home building industry include: shortages or delays in obtaining building materials; delays in obtaining permits and approvals; and difficulties in finding workers and subcontractors.

Dietz cited the rise in home improvement and remodeling projects during the pandemic and noted that 70% of the housing stock in Massachusetts is more than 40 years old, thereby likely resulting in the remodeling business remaining strong for the foreseeable future.