CONTINENTAL, OH (WLIO) – A Putnam County family is getting a new home for the holidays, thanks to a lot of volunteers and Habitat for Humanity.
“It means a lot to me and my kids,” says Jamie Dudgeon, Homeowner. “It’s going to be a great home. It’s also going to teach me stuff and I just thank everyone that has helped tremendously. I just really appreciate it and it’s from the bottom of my heart. I just want to thank everybody.”
In around 20 weeks, Jamie Dudgeon new house went from a piece of ground to a home and future for her and her daughters. This is the 13th complete home that the Putnam County Habitat has built and it could have been their smoothest from start to finish.
“Really, we have such a dedicated group of volunteers that stepped right in from the last build. They were ready to go,” says Anne Coburn-Griffis, Ex. Dir. Putnam Co. Habitat for Humanity. “The family dove right in and worked very hard. Also, the village of Continental has been very supportive in the program and they help expedite the process as well.”
For Dudgeon, her new house is like a dream come true.
“It feels wonderful. Finally, a house of our own,” adds Dudgeon. “I am 46 years old, and I never thought I would be able to have a house of my own and now I do.”
“To know that they are going to move in within a week or two, it is really a feeling of accomplishment,” says Teresa Lammers, Putnam County Habitat for Humanity Board Member and Family Advocate. “It speaks so well of the Putnam County people and the numbers it took to build this house.”
While the Putnam County Habitat may not be putting up new homes every year, they are making sure that people are living safe and comfortable in the county year-round.
“All year round, 365 days a year, I think we do Critical Home Repair,” adds Coburn-Griffis. “So, where we don’t do complete homes, we do an awful lot of things to keep people living in their homes safely and decently.”
This is the 3rd home that Habitat for Humanity has built in Continental.
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Median home sale prices in the United States have nearly doubled in the past decade to $422,000 in July 2023. That’s up from $220,000 in July 2013. Although prices are trending higher nationwide, affordability is significantly different by state.
An analysis of recent data provided by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage firm, shows the Midwest and South have the lowest median house prices in the United States, making these regions the most affordable relative to income.
Because of rising real estate prices, housing on the west and east coasts is the least affordable, along with certain Rocky Mountain states and Hawaii. However, many states across the Midwest and South have housing prices below $350,000, with some counties seeing prices below $150,000.
Housing Prices Increasing
Homes everywhere are increasingly unaffordable relative to income because median sale prices climbed quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the national median home price was $304,000, and continued to escalate because of low rates, demand, and availability.
Before the lockdown, low mortgage rates made new and used homes more affordable for many people in America. A $500,000 house with a 20% down payment and a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of 4% has a monthly cost of $2,005. The same home bought with a 7% rate has a $2,794 monthly payment — a $789 difference.
Because rates were below 4% from early 2019 to mid-2022, Americans invested in real estate, causing prices to rise.
At the same time, housing inventory declined. After peaking in 2006, home construction was below average for many years, causing demand to outstrip supply, putting upward pressure on house prices.
Least Expensive States in The Midwest and South
The Midwest and South contain the top five low-housing cost states, which lead the country in affordability.
Iowa The Most Affordable State
Iowa has the lowest median sale price of $239,000 in 2022. The state is primarily rural but has smaller cities like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City. Additionally, the population is relatively small and growing at only 0.3% annually, keeping demand and, thus, housing prices low. According to the Federal Reserve, the state’s median income was $76,320, making housing relatively cheap for families.
Ohio’s Declining Population Limits Home Price Gains
Ohio is the second most affordable state, with a median sale price of $249,000. The state is more industrialized than Iowa but still has a significant agricultural industry. In addition, Ohio has three large cities: Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus. Based on the state’s median income of $67,520, housing is less affordable than in other Midwestern states. Also, Ohio’s population is declining, suggesting home prices will gain little.
Oklahoma Most Affordable State Outside The Midwest
Oklahoma has the third-lowest median sale price of $256,000. The state is largely rural, with two main cities: Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Oklahoma’s median household income is below Iowa’s and Ohio’s at $63,440. As a result, its residents pay a higher percentage of their income for housing costs. Oklahoma’s population is gaining 1.5% annually, so real estate prices should continue to rise.
Most Expensive States on The West and East Coasts
On the other end of the scale, California was unsurprisingly the most expensive state to buy a home. In fact, the most expensive states are concentrated on the West Coast, Northeast, and a few Rocky Mountain states, attracting people from other parts of the United States, like Utah and Colorado. The three least affordable states are California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.
High Demand Makes California Expensive
Housing in California is costly. Prices continue to rise because of demand, insufficient construction, and labor costs. In 2022, the median house price was $799,000 — more than three times the price of Iowa. Median household incomes are higher at $85,300, but are generally not enough to account for the sale price differences. After years of growth, California’s population has declined in the past couple of years, but not enough to impact affordability.
Homes in Hawaii Are Expensive
Hawaii is next on the list, with a median home price of $713,000. The state has strict permitting requirements, and as a result, construction cannot meet demand. Therefore, housing prices have risen. Besides expensive housing, Hawaii also has the highest cost of living, making it challenging to make a simple 50/30/20 budget strategy work and purchase a home, too. Household incomes are high, too, at $91,010, but the extraordinary cost of living expenses reduces buying power. One advantage, though, is the state has the lowest property tax rate in the country.
Massachusetts Home Prices Are Rising Fast
Massachusetts is third, with a median house price of $640,000. The state is building more luxury, high-end residences, and not enough affordable housing. Demand is also high because the population grows in most years, drawn by high-paying jobs in healthcare, information technology, and education. In fact, the median household income of $93,550 is among the highest in the country. The combination of forces driving prices higher is unlikely to subside.
The Bottom Line About Real Estate Affordability
Real estate prices have risen faster than incomes. Consequently, already expensive markets are now pricier than ever. Based on median home prices, the Midwest and South lead the country in affordability, especially after considering household incomes.
That said, rising mortgage rates mean it may be prudent to wait until they change direction. High mortgage rates hinder selling and buying.
Arnie Nicola of Pregnancy and Motherhood says, “We had planned to buy a house and the high interest rates pushed up monthly payments and brought down our home value below our expected selling price, so ultimately we decided to just hold.”
The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and Dogwood Health Trust are partnering to launch the WNC Community Enhancement Program that will award grants to charitable organizations and eligible public agencies to fund projects in downtowns or commercial corridors that enhance appearance, infrastructure or the pedestrian experience.
CFWNC will administer the program and will award grants up to $10,000 for projects not exceeding a total cost of $50,000. Dogwood Health Trust provided the funding for the one-year pilot. Grants will be reviewed and announced quarterly.
To apply organizations must be tax-exempt and located in the Qualla Boundary or one of the following counties in western North Carolina: Transylvania, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain or Yancey. Priority will be given to projects located in rural or other under-resourced areas.
“WNC Community Enhancement grants can help build, rebuild or refresh community spaces that foster connections and economic development,” said CFWNC Scholarship and Program Officer Lezette Parks who will manage the program. “In general, funded projects will be stand-alone, rather than part of a larger project, and we anticipate that most will address beautification or infrastructure improvements.”
Those interested in applying can learn more at www.cfwnc.org.
CFWNC works with families, businesses and nonprofits to strengthen communities through the creation of charitable funds and strategic grantmaking. A permanent charitable resource, the foundation manages over 1,200 funds and facilitated $34 million in grants last year, bringing total giving to more than $362 million since its founding in 1978.
Corporate landlords don’t stick to rent controls
In Berlin, landlords cannot raise rents on existing tenancies by more than 10pc. But this rule isn’t sanctioned, which means it is often broken, according to Dr Hamann-Onnertz, a managing director at Berliner Mieterverein.
She says individual landlords typically won’t raise rents more than 20pc. But corporate landlords, she says, will run roughshod over these rules to the tune of 50pc.
As well as repeatedly breaking rent cap rules, tenants have also accused corporate landlords of spending far less than other housing providers on maintenance.
The city’s six largest corporate landlords have spent €10.93 per square metre on repairs and maintenance in recent years, according to an academic report commissioned by socialist lobby group Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung. This is compared to the €18.54 spent by state-owned housing companies.
Dr Hamann-Onnertz says rule-breaking rent hikes are the most common reason tenants who live in corporate landlords’ properties reach out for support.
After that, it is maintenance issues such as water pouring through the roof and repeatedly failing elevators.
Corporate landlords, Dr Hamann-Onnertz says, tend to de-invest in their stock so shareholders can receive larger dividends.
Renter Mr Anders says he has friends who say their “individual landlords are good and look after them”. But those in shareholder-owned property, he says, always struggle to get a reliable service.
Every Christmas “just like clockwork”, he says the heating some of Deutsche Wohnen’s apartments will fail and not get fixed for weeks. “It’s not even a scandal any more because it’s so predictable.”
A spokesperson for Deutsche Wohnen said some of its buildings are 50 to 60 years old and added that it distributes mobile radiators to tenants during periods of delays.
Earlier this year, corporate housing giant Vonovia came under scrutiny following accusations that some of its staff had taken kickbacks from contractors in return for preferential treatment.
Rolf Buch, the company’s chief executive, admitted in March: “It appears individual employees at our subsidiaries have accepted bribes to the detriment of Vonovia — that is not acceptable.”
The findings of an internal investigation overseen by Deloitte are due imminently. A spokesperson declined to comment.
‘These rent increases make people angry’
High rents and a lack of social housing mean the city’s tenants are now petrified of moving.
Until this year, Berlin’s social housing bands had been frozen. This summer, they were raised so those earning €2,000 a month – such as nurses and train drivers – could actually qualify.
Though with the shortage in state-owned homes, many are still renting in the private sector where rents feel unaffordable.
During his time as Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz was also among the many guests wined and dined at Benko’s well-attended, Tyrollean-themed autumn parties, hosted at the grand Park Hyatt hotel in Vienna. Yet, the lavish gathering hasn’t been held since 2019 – around the same time that Europe’s financial watchdogs started asking serious questions about the sustainability of Signa’s business model.
That year, Austria’s Financial Market Authority expressed concerns about the exposure of the country’s second-largest bank Raiffeisen to the Signa group. The FMA calculated that the lender had breached “internal limits” by as much as nine times, according to an FMA message seen by Bloomberg. Raiffeisen challenged the calculations and no action was taken.
German regulator BaFin and the European Central Bank have also been quizzing the continent’s banks and big insurers about the extent of their lending to the company. A 76-page internal presentation seen by Reuters listed nearly 40 lenders and insurance companies as “investors and financing partners”. Though there is no date on the document, it contains data from 2019.
The intense scrutiny appears to have caused some of those that have funded Signa’s rise to pull back. In February, it emerged that Deutsche Bank, an organisation that has demonstrated a greater willingness than others to take on colourful characters such as one Donald J Trump as clients, had severed virtually all ties with Benko.
“To build up that much real estate in such a short period of time is only possible if you engage in risky lending and leveraging practices. And that’s what they did. What they have now is a liquidity crisis,” Dobusch says.
Questions have repeatedly asked about Signa’s opaque structure – a web of more than 100 companies held through trusts and shell companies based in Switzerland and Liechtenstein making it difficult to obtain a clear picture of its true financial state.
Concerns have also been raised about a set-up propped up by Benko’s tendency to become a prominent tenant in his own properties, which critics say has enabled valuations to keep increasing even as other big property investors have been forced to take sharp write-downs.
“The whole business model was based on being able to increase rents, so that they would be able to obtain ever higher valuations. That would then allow them to roll over their loans.”
Meanwhile, Benko continues his brushes with the law.
Earlier this year, he was acquitted in another bribery case, while Benko is currently a named suspect in a second, separate corruption probe by Austrian prosecutors, which resulted in Signa’s Innsbruck headquarters being raided in October. No charges have been made against Signa or Benko, and both have denied any wrongdoing in relation to the investigation. Former chancellor Kurz was implicated in the same investigation and has said that the “allegations are false.”
The man tasked with trying to make sense of it all after Benko agreed to hand over control is German insolvency expert Arndt Geiwitz. He must quickly identify what the short-term liquidity gap is, and then whether it can be bridged.
According to Signa’s annual report, a €200m bond issued by Signa Prime falls due at the end of November, and an investor profit participation scheme is due at the end of the year. A smaller unit, Signa Development, has a €250m construction loan maturing next year, according to Fitch.
The lone proposal the city received for a development at the former Lou’s Antique Mall location included a mixed-use project with high-end condos that would have been offered for $425,000 each.
The $13 million Riverview Flats project pitched to the city included 30-35 condos for sale, covered parking with elevator access to each floor, a 24-hour fitness center and a rooftop riverview deck.
It also called for 3,000 square feet of retail space, building circulation and parking, with car access along Patton Street.
“The north face of the property will provide direct resident, pedestrian and outdoor dining access to Main Street Plaza and JTI Fountain,” the proposal states. “The floors above will offer one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums of varying sizes and layouts.”
City officials sent out a request for proposals on July 13 seeking bids from firms, but received just one proposal. And that was after extending the deadline for accepting them from Sept. 1 to Sept. 15.
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A review panel had hoped to select a company on Oct. 12, but that did not come to pass.
The proposal came from Riverview Flats, LLC, a joint venture among Reimagine Ventures, LLC, CWC Holdings, LLC, and FF & Sons.
“After review of the redevelopment proposal presented by Reimagine Ventures, LLC, the city and the [Danville Industrial Development Authority] decided not to move forward with the submitted project,” said Kelvin Perry, assistant director of economic development and tourism for Danville.
The IDA received input from citizens in 2021 on what they would like to see done with the property.
“Given its highly visible location at the main entry point of our downtown, it was determined that the project as presented was too dense for the lot size and did not take into account some of the suggestions made by the public,” Perry said.
A survey was conducted in 2021 seeking input on what residents would like to see at the property.
Green space, a public park, a book store, an English tea shop and an African American history museum were among a plethora of ideas for the building, according to the results.
A large number of survey respondents said they would like the building to be torn down and converted into a public space or replaced with a building combining public space and other uses.
The survey, which was posted on social media and the city’s website and emailed, yielded responses from 525 people.
Other ideas included a microbrewery, a winery, an arcade bar such as Dave & Busters, a grocery store, skating rink or skate park, a workspace for artists, a mini-mall, a recreation center for youth, a movie theater, an African American history museum (including one for Danville native and NASCAR legend Wendell Scott), an open-air market, miniature golf and an English tea spot. One respondent proposed “an eclectic occult store.”
The site at 231 Main St. is a temporary green space. Officials expect a development there — and completion of the Dan River Falls and riverfront park projects late next year — to offer an altered experience in the heart of the city.
The former Lou’s building was demolished in June.
Officials expect the site to end up with a mix of residential and commercial use.
The Riverview Flats proposal included an average selling price of $425,000 for the condos, and also entailed five or six smaller one-bedroom “affordable” units from $250,000 to $275,000.
“While this represents a significant premium above the current market on a per-square-foot basis, we are confident that the level of finishes offered, amenity package, unique views and proximity/walkability to downtown offerings will create demand for a new style of living in Danville,” the proposal states.
The proposal offered to buy the former Lou’s property for $450,000.
The parties with Riverview Flats have also been behind other completed or upcoming projects in Danville, including River District Tower, the C.B. Fitzgerald/Coin-Ops Building, Stewart Street Apartments and the Monument-Berryman Housing Project.
City Manager Ken Larking said there will not be another request for proposals for the property, but the city will continue to try to attract interest in the site.
“We’ll just market it to developers to see if we can get the right kind of concept and go from there,” Larking said, adding that the city is open to either leasing or selling the property.
The property is owned by the IDA, the city’s land-buying arm.
“I would like for it to be developed as soon as possible,” Larking said.
However, officials do not want to rush into developing the site with just any proposal that comes along.
“It’s more important to get the right project than to get it done right away,” he said.
The IDA will keep considering ideas from developers, Perry said.
“The IDA will continue to evaluate proposals from developers who express an interest in redeveloping the property,” Perry said. “Interested parties should contact the Danville Office of Economic Development & Tourism.”
John R. Crane
The eastern entrance to Larkinville is getting a new look.
Derek Sullivan’s Buffalo Bungalow of Elma is planning to construct six two-story commercial buildings along Seneca and Exchange streets, using a vacant and narrow triangular site near the eastern end of Exchange where it meets Smith Street.
Located at 935-945 Seneca St., with additional land on Exchange, the properties are on the south side of Seneca, north of Exchange. The parcels will be merged for a total of 0.6 acres of undeveloped green space.
The identical Scandinavian-style buildings would be 1,008 square feet each, with a full first floor and a partial mezzanine, for a total of 6,888 square feet. All would have a relatively open interior floor plan for ease of modification. Four buildings would be perpendicular to Seneca with the fronts facing that street, while one would face Exchange and the last would be parallel to the streets, toward the point of the triangle.
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“I think they’re pretty cool,” said James Morrell, chairman of the Buffalo Planning Board, which approved the $2 million project on Monday. “It just brings development to the street, because this was just a desolate wasteland years ago, and turns it into that walkable community.”
The buildings would be targeted toward a mixture of small commercial services, boutique shops and salons, with a coffee shop at the end building, as well as an outdoor seating area and room for a building addition for a kitchen. The project includes 15 parking spaces, with entrances from both Seneca and Exchange.
“Our client has received several inquiries from online entrepreneurs looking for small space in the city to start to realize their brick-and-mortar dreams,” said Greenman-Pederson landscape architect Robert Blood, representing Buffalo Bungalow. “Our client believes this project is in response to that. This is intended to primarily serve the neighborhood as well.”
The $2 million project received seven zoning variances in June. Construction will take about five months.
In other action, the Planning Board:
- Approved a minor subdivision for Christopher Wan’s $10 million project at 147 W. Tupper St., where the contractor plans to demolish several dilapidated and mostly vacant structures and replace them with a four-story brick complex containing 42 new studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments and up to seven retail businesses. The site includes 147, 149, 157, 159, 161 and 167 West Tupper and 42 and 44 Trinity Place, which are being combined.
- Approved a one-year extension for TM Montante Development’s adaptive reuse of the former homeopathic hospital building at the former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle site. Montante has been focusing on helping Belmont Housing Resources for Western New York prepare for its neighboring affordable housing project on the rest of that site, but rising interest rates and other factors have hindered its effort to line up the bank financing for its own project.
- Recommended approval by the Common Council for special-use permits for Sheldon Anderson and Omar R. Price to open cannabis stores at 232-234 Allen St. and 1669-1673 Hertel Ave., respectively.
- Recommended approval of a special-use permit for Nabaa Ibrahim to open a neighborhood bar and restaurant at 995 Exchange St.
Reach Jonathan D. Epstein at (716) 849-4478 or email@example.com.