Cumberland, Maryland Among Most Affordable Housing Markets

Route 50 recently dissected a report from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), spotlighting Cumberland, Maryland, as one of the country’s most affordable small housing markets. 

The publication details a housing affordability crisis spurred by “a perfect storm of high inflation, low inventory and rising mortgage rates.” Using the Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, NAHB ranked markets across the nation based on the percentage of housing stock that is affordable for “families earning the national median income of $90,000 annually.” Unfortunately, overall affordability continues to plummet, dropping from 56.9% of new and existing homes sold in the first quarter of the year to 42.8% in the second.

Route 50 quotes Robert Dietz, chief economist for NAHB, on the factors contributing to the affordability crisis and the interventions needed to help:

Policymakers need to focus on mending broken building material supply chains and reducing ineffective zoning and other regulatory policies to help bend the cost curve and enable builders to boost attainable housing production.

Mr. Dietz’s analysis somewhat mirrors that of the National Association of Counties (NACo). For more expensive markets in Maryland, such as Howard County, NACo’s Housing Solutions Matchmaker Tool suggests making “it easier to build small, moderately priced homes” and making “the development process simpler and shorter.” However, for more affordable regions like Allegany County, the tool suggests adopting “strategies to reduce vacant housing” and providing “subsidies for improving housing quality.” Altogether, it is clear that a one-size-fits-all solution will not adequately address the vastly different affordable housing concerns confronting Maryland’s diverse communities.

Coincidentally, Maryland appears less impacted by the housing affordability crisis than other states. According to NAHB, among the 249 regions considered, the top four least affordable major housing markets are all in California. Meanwhile, Cumberland ranked #2 nationally and #1 regionally for the most affordable housing market. Several other Maryland metro areas are included in its rankings, including California-Lexington Park (#50 nationally, #8 regionally) and Baltimore-Columbia-Towson (#59 nationally and #13 regionally). The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria region, which includes a portion of Maryland, ranked in the upper half of the affordability rankings, coming in at #116 nationally and #16 regionally.

Read the full Route 50 article.

See the full NAHB rankings.