Georgia is becoming too expensive for first-time homebuyers.
For most people, buying a home—especially a first home—is always a nerve-wracking experience. But for many Georgians looking to put down roots, purchasing a new home is simply becoming out of reach.
It’s felt like this for years, but now, thanks to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF), there’s data to prove it.
In 2022, GPPF put out a comprehensive report showing how government regulations and fees (that had little to do with health or safety) were adding significant costs to new housing developments.
Finally, home builders and prospective home buyers had the data to prove what they’d been experiencing for years.
GPPF’s study, called “Government regulation in the price of a new home,” was the first state-level in-depth report of its kind.
To create the study, GPPF surveyed scores of home builders in the state about the various types of regulations they face when developing lots or constructing houses. According to the Georgia Register, GPPF’s report “estimates that those regulations account for 27% of the cost for a single-family home in Georgia, compared to the national average of 23%. In other words, a new $300,000 home in Georgia would be about $12,000 less expensive nationally without the regulation cost estimates tallied in the analysis.”
In fact, Georgia’s regulatory costs are 13% higher than the national average and disproportionately impactful for consumers seeking entry-level housing. If Georgia’s regulatory costs were as far below the national average as they are above it, a family buying a $400,000 home at today’s mortgage rates could save up to $130 per month on their mortgage.
The Register continued, “Georgians continue to be priced out of homes as the cost to buy homes soar and rent becomes more of a drain on pocketbooks while the population continues to grow. And that comes as fewer homes have been built. In Georgia, more new home building permits were issued in the final five years of the 1990s than from 2010-2019.”
“We’re not arguing that all (regulations) are bad or should be eliminated,” said Chris Denson, GPPF’s director of policy and research. “We just want policymakers to be aware that when they impose these things, there’s a real-world cost that’s transferred on to prospective homebuyers.”
After GPPF released their report, their team began working to turn their data into reforms.
Thanks to a wide-reaching communications strategy, GPPF’s research was mentioned in at least 75 news stories and reached more than 140,000 people via social media. GPPF representatives also presented the findings to more than 2,000 Georgians at two dozen events across the state.
But most notably, GPPF’s report led to two major pieces of legislation.
Bureaucratic and political challenges prevented these bills from making it to the governor’s desk in 2023, but both are still alive for the 2024 session and GPPF’s team continues to work with legislators to get them passed.
GPPF’s team worked closely with the Home Builders Association of Georgia to share the survey with its members. The Georgia Association of Realtors also promoted the report’s findings with its members.
Additionally, the study got the attention of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, which invited GPPF experts to join its task force on workforce housing. And finally, GPPF’s work attracted notice from the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Georgia, who has become an advocate for GPPF’s work on housing affordability. He even spoke on a panel GPPF hosted at the 2022 SPN Annual Meeting in Atlanta.
GPPF’s research has unquestionably proven what many home builders and new home buyers knew for years: new homes are becoming unaffordable in Georgia.
But because of GPPF’s work to expose this problem and look for solutions, Georgia families will be able to set down roots without having to worry about the unaffordable burden from government regulations.
For their significant research that highlighted the increasing cost of housing in Georgia, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation won State Policy Network’s 2023 Bob Williams Awards for Outstanding Policy Achievement—in the “Most Influential Research” category.