Given the state of the current real estate market across many parts of Canada, the term “affordable” housing is more than just a buzz word.  Multiple offers with properties often selling for well above both their asking prices and current market values has made housing non-affordable for many other than for those with deep pockets.

Addressing the needs of affordable housing is not a quick fix but as per a story in Collingwood Today the Municipality of the Blue Mountains has launched a new initiative that is attempting to attract affordable housing to the area.  Again there is no easy answer and its going to take more than just support from developers to solve the issue.  The cost of servicing land with municipal water, sewer and roads etc. has always been a big part of the problem and that has only gotten worse recently with many levels of government now spending billions to fight the global pandemic rather than addressing issues closer to home.

No matter the circumstance, I have always been a big proponent of emulating what someone else has done.  Whether it is a personal problem like weight loss, an addiction such as drugs, alcohol, a financial problem or you are trying to start or build a business etc. why re-invent the wheel?  Emulate what someone else has done to reach the goal or level of success you are looking for.  The same applies for addressing the need for affordable housing, why not look at not only what other municipalities have done what about looking at what other countries have done?

My daughter is married, she and her husband have a three and a half year old daughter and they live on the island of Maui, Hawaii.  As one would expect and if you have ever watched the real estate TV show Hawaii Life on HGTV, real estate on Hawaii is expensive.  They currently rent a 775 square foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bath home that with a young child, they have effectively outgrown.  Based on my online research their rental house house has a current estimated market value of $523,000 U.S.  Given the size and price that can hardly been called from a purchase standpoint “affordable.”  Sound familiar?

In order to address the affordability issue, a couple of new housing developments are underway on Maui that are as stated by the developer are aimed at ” making island residents a priority.”

Prices of these homes are based on the median income levels established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and fall in three categories, below moderate income, moderate income and above moderate income levels.  Fortunately for my daughter’s family they meet the financial criteria.  Her husband works from home for his employer as a computer IT specialist, she is going to college working on her degree and works part time managing a rental beach home for the owner.

The development on Maui they want to purchase a home in is called Hoku’ula which in Hawaii means bright red star.  Homes in the Hoku’ula development are all 4 bedrooms, 2 or 2.5 baths with garages and other nice features.  Sizes range from 2,200 to 2,600 square feet including the garage and are priced from $556,300 to $741,600 U.S.  Note: Currency doesn’t really matter when you are paid in U.S. dollars so saying these price are $675,000 to $897,000 Canadian is irrelevant.

My daughter and her husband got pre-approved for their mortgage.  A total of 30 homes in the subdivision were available for purchase under the program and purchase applications had to be submitted by March 30th.  Availability was then made via a raffle with names drawn from those that were submitted by people qualified to purchase.  Out of the 30 homes available under this program by daughter’s family was drawn 12th, needless-to-say they are very excited as am I for them.

The point of this post is with affordable homes such a burning issue in this area let’s look at what others have done.  As always a great deal can be learned from the success of others.  While Hawaii does not have the climate issues to deal with that we do here in Canada such as insulation and heating systems, accessibility of raw materials ie: lumber with which to build homes is a real issue as virtually everything must be shipped in from the U.S. mainland.

Where there’s a will there’s a way and too often its “will” that is lacking.   Perhaps that is about to change, it certainly needs to.

While I had no involvement or influence in the process my daughter and son-in-law went through, I was very pleased to see that Sotheby’s Realty is the real estate company handling the sales of the Hoku’ula homes so I know my daughter’s family is in good hands.  Further this clearly illustrates that at Sotheby’s we are not just about marketing and selling luxury properties.  Instead, we like to think that “everyone deserves a home that inspires you.” 

Stay well and stay safe.