Builders fret as lot supply in many markets lags demand

Municipalities’ failure to keep pace with their processes makes penciling in the next 24 to 36 months’ land strategy a bigger, more bubbly challenge

By John McManus | Builder News

On the builder and residential developer pain-point check list, access to a lot supply is a bigger worry than labor or lending availability right now. Understandable, right? It makes sense that if you can’t get home sites, the other two issues shrink measurably as headaches.

Ivy Zelman and her team of analysts at Zelman & Associates confirm that, in a ranking of challenges in order of the grief they cause, builders list “land availability” as the No. 1 worry in Zelman’s private home builder universe, with labor availability a close second.

A big reason builders and developers give for land coming online so slowly these days is human bandwidth, and not just their own. The post-Great Recession cutback in local and regional government officials, engineers, planners, inspectors, even clerks, has ground the process in many of those localities to a trickle. Projects logjam while there’s too few municipal personnel qualified to green-light them for a next stage of development, evaluation, and approval.

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