At the Area Development Foundation’s (ADF) annual meeting on Jan. 25, economics major Brian Sellers ’21 presented a study he conducted remotely last summer under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Economics Katie Black. The study revealed the presence of a housing shortage in Knox County and identified which housing characteristics are in high demand.
“Brian’s research has been crucial, critical to our efforts,” President of ADF Jeffrey Gottke said.
The ADF is a nonprofit organization that aims to bring high-quality jobs to Knox County. As noted on their site, ADF has three central pillars: jobs, workers and liveable housing, with all three pillars feeding into one another. Monitoring the local economic development is a main responsibility for ADF officers, and the organization recognized that bringing more residents to Knox County will help bolster the economy.
Statistics from the study revealed a relatively slow population growth from 2010 to 2018 in Knox County, which recorded only a 1.6% increase, compared to its neighbors, Licking County (5.6%) and Franklin County (4.4%). Sellers’ study also found that one major cause for the lagging population in Knox County is the lack of housing stock among all income price bands, which discourages people from moving in as a shortage of housing can often place upwards pressure on housing prices.
“The whole month of June was sort of us trying to gather data and calling people,” Sellers explained. Data used in the study came from the Knox County Multiple Listing Service, a comprehensive database typically used by real estate brokers to share property listings with one another. This data was then fed into geospatial information system software. Sellers also separately obtained data for his demographic analysis from the 2010 census and annual census estimates.
The study ultimately concluded that there are just not enough houses on the market to keep up with demand. Over the last three years in Mount Vernon, only two new houses were built. In just the last week in Knox County, there were only 12 houses for sale, which, according to Gottke, is “not nearly enough.” However, a recent audit on the local developable land shows that 3,277 houses can be built inside Mount Vernon without rezoning.
By closely analyzing changes in housing market trends in Knox County that took place over the last decade, the study noted which types of houses are popular amongst consumers, and helped to provide ADF with clear guidance for the planning of future housing.
The consumer preference fits closely with local family demographics, with the majority of households in Knox County having two to four members with education up to a high school diploma.
Sellers found that homes with two to four bedrooms, large living spaces, one or more garages and proximity to large bodies of water are in the highest demand. “We also noticed that consumers like newer homes,” he said.
Sellers’ study has provided the ADF with statistical analysis about the types of residential units that people have expressed the most desire for in the past 10 years. This data may prove to be especially useful to the ADF when working with future developers and home builders.
“Our goal is to meet with all of these stakeholders to see how we can move the needle to address this county-wide housing shortage for all income levels,” ADF Vice President and Administrator of the Knox County Land Bank Sam Filkins told Knox Pages.