Development has not kept pace with demand for single family housing in Marshfield, a study concluded.
The 2014 Housing Study and Needs Assessment was updated by MSA Professional Service, who was contracted by the City of Marshfield through the Economic Development Board to assess the local housing market and take steps accordingly to meet the needs of current and prospective residents.
According to the data, in three years the city will run out of desirable single family residential lots if the current pace of development continues. Fifty-six single homes have been built in the past five years versus 119 new homes in the eight surrounding towns from 2013-17, similar to the pace of development during the early Great Depression.
However, there are signs that the market is picking up. Marshfield increased new home development by 22% from 2014.
A concern regarding existing single family homes is age and the need for renovations and repair. Approximately 33% of the 5,479 single-family homes were constructed before 1950. Older homes can lack desirability to homeowners because of higher maintenance costs and lack of an attached garage. Typically owner-occupied homes convert to rental homes once they reach a poor quality.
While Marshfield residents have lower incomes compared to the state as a whole, housing is also less expensive in comparison to regional peers. Affordability in housing is determined as spending 30% or less of income on housing, and fewer than 20% of owners exceed this.
A survey of local realtors revealed strong demand for single family houses below $200,000 which are also in good condition. Declining permits to renovate homes and survey responses show that owners and potential buyers are unwilling to undergo major renovations, opting instead to build what they want in a home.
Since 2017, the City has offered an incentive program to provide a 2-5% payment for developers or residents to rehabilitate single and two-family dwellings.
There is also a demand for housing above $250,000, but the size of city lots prohibits larger, more expensive homes. Due to the limited selection in this range, many look outside of Marshfield.
The housing study revealed a desire for more condominiums, townhomes and high-end rentals for busy professionals. Duplex development is on the increase with ten homes approved in 2018 with an additional 48 planned by 2020.
By 2025 there will be an increase of 460 new households. Ideally, the growth in housing units should exceed this – an addition of 40 owner-occupied units and 27 rental units per year. With the population in surrounding areas projected to increase, it’s up to the City to how proactive to be to attract these numbers to Marshfield instead of a nearby town.
There are a number of options for the City to begin meeting the demand. These include providing expanding options for renters by providing rental units that are short-term, pet-friendly, quality, higher-end, located downtown.
Other options include updating property maintenance standards; utilizing TIF and tax credits for new construction and rehabilitation; increasing the number of homes below $200,000 and above $250,000; increasing the number of condominiums and townhomes; promoting “pattern books” which show homeowners common remodeling techniques; and enhancing neighborhood health by offering diverse housing options, among other suggestions.
A full draft of the housing study can be found at the City website at this link.
Gaps in the regional housing market show an inadequate supply of:
1) short-term rental housing
2) pet-friendly rental housing
3) desirable owner-occupied housing in the city under $200,000
4) condominiums and townhomes
5) acceptable rental units at the lower end of the market
6) units at the high end of the rental market
8) new owner-occupied housing in the city over $250,000