LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Major Changes Needed to Make Homes Affordable to First-Time Home Buyers

Philip Weiden | May 2017

Phil Weiden, HGAR
Government Affairs Director

Big changes are needed at the local government level in order to make home ownership attractive to the millennial generation. Big changes are needed at the state level to our transportation system in order to get people from Point A to Point B.

To begin to foster change on the local level, Realtors should attend board meetings and demand that your town and village officials approve more land for single-family homes and more land generally for development. There has been a stigma in the media attached to single-family homes among millennials, however polls show 80% of millennials overwhelmingly support home ownership and want to live in a single family home.

There is currently an under supply of homes available, thus increasing the price of the homes that are on the market. Currently inventories average around a three-month supply, which is extremely low. A healthy market inventory would require at least a six-month supply of inventory in order to bring prices down. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. An increase in supply also increases the tax base, which is what is needed in order to grow. School districts farther away from New York City have actually been losing population that has resulted in a diminution of the state’s population overall.

Next, we need to fully fund and reform our transportation system for trains, busses and cars. Congestion pricing is an idea whose time has come. Currently, for instance, I work at the HGAR offices here in White Plains and I pay a toll to go over the Whitestone or Throgs Neck bridges in Queens. In New York City you have several bridges on the East Side that are toll free, including the Queensboro Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge along with several free bridges in the Bronx. This is a bad situation creating inequities that snarl traffic as people obviously attempt to cross the free bridges. Instead of simply raising tolls we should toll every bridge in New York City and the surrounding suburbs. This would help with revenue to repair the roads and could spread out traffic flow so that it is not converging along one or two roadways.

The added funding could also help fund our MTA and Amtrak train lines that are literally falling apart. Every day now in the city, we hear that trains are delayed going to Penn Station, New Jersey, Long Island and even the Hudson Valley. If this is not fixed, people will not want to move to New York State. Millennials will not stay. Addressing our transportation issues would benefit the daily commute for drivers and mass transit riders. Finally, doing this would stop our collective over reliance on the gas tax, which is not a reliable source to fund our infrastructure. The respective federal and state gas tax should be lowered, which would help everybody, and have that revenue replaced with adequate tolling for people who use the roads. Cars are more fuel efficient today and increasing numbers of people are using the railroads so government can no longer rely on the gas tax as they have in the past. These are some critical solutions that we could use to revolutionize the way New York operates and help stop the flow of our seniors and our young people to the south and west.

Philip Weiden
Legislative Affairs columnist Philip Weiden is the Government Affairs Director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.