Published March 1, 2009 | March 2009 issue
Hammers might not be swinging like they once were, but the housing sector in North Dakota continues to do well. Last year, total and single-family housing permits declined about 7 percent and 13 percent, respectively, from 2006 levels. But that compares to a nationwide drop in the same categories of 50 percent and 58 percent, respectively, over the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Some, in fact, believe the state housing market is a little too strong. A January report by the state Housing Finance Agency said there is a growing affordability gap; median homes appreciated by 21 percent from 2005 to 2007, while median household income grew less than 7 percent. The average worker earned less than $34,000 in 2007. The gap was particularly acute in the Williston area—which saw a boom in the energy sector—where values soared from $72,000 in 2005 to more than $110,000 in 2007.
The state also happens to be one of just seven states that has no affordable housing fund to help low-income people buy houses or pay rent. That might change, as a bill was proposed in the House that would provide $10 million in seed money for an affordable housing fund.
—Ronald A. Wirtz