Housing experts say Michigan needs more new houses

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LIVINGSTON COUNTY (WJRT) - (06/09/17) - If you're hoping to buy a newly-built house in Mid-Michigan, you may be out of luck - home construction is at a very low level.

Across the state, it's the same story. About 16,000 new houses will be built in Michigan this year. Housing experts say there needs to be twice as much.

"In the very near future, the state of Michigan will most certainly experience severe housing shortages," said Lynne Pratt, Home Builders Association of Michigan vice president.

The Home Builders Association of Michigan says that could drag down the state's economy. If workers want to move into the state but can't find a place to live, they may turn down the job.

Home builders say unnecessary regulations and the increasing costs of materials are making new housing unaffordable for many.

"Obtainable housing for people living here in the state of Michigan and making an average wage is going away. It's vanishing like to the dodo bird," said Lee Schwartz, of the Home Builders Association of Michigan.

Another problem in the construction industry is the lack of workers in the skilled trades, like masonry and plumbing.

"We watched our skilled trades people leave this state. Some retired. Some moved to other states. They're not coming back," Schwartz said.

Not only is the lack of qualified workers driving up costs, but it's extending the time it takes to build a new house.

"It's extending the time it takes to build a home by weeks and sometimes months because we don't have the appropriate trades available to work on our homes," said Lisa Sears, of the Home Builders Association of Mid-Michigan.

Instead of a heavy emphasis on sending high school seniors to college, the Home Builders Association would like to see career counselors suggest students consider a career in the construction industry skilled trades.

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