MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Housing costs are skyrocketing nationwide, but development is typically met with fierce opposition, stalling development and driving up price tags, according to one report.
About two-thirds of developers experience neighborhood pushback to their projects, increasing construction costs by 5.6% and delaying the process by an average of 7.4 months, according to a report from the National Association of Home Builders and the National Multifamily Housing Council.
“While most Americans agree that we need more housing and more housing affordable to middle-income households, too many change their opinion when someone proposes to put that new housing in their neighborhood,” the report reads. “The intensity of opposition is escalated if that housing is rental housing.”
Those costs are likely higher, the National Multifamily Housing Council predicts, because those numbers are only for the projects that go forward.
That opposition is fueled by the “not in my backyard” mentality – often referred to as “NIMBYism” among the development and planning communities. NIMBY efforts can take the form of fighting rezoning attempts and filing lawsuits to prevent projects from going forward.
“NIMBYism as a whole is nothing new,” said Paula Cino, the vice president for construction, development and land use policy for the National Multifamily Housing Council. “There are, have been, NIMBY challenges, particularly in the multifamily space, for decades.”
What’s being highlighted now, however, is how a shortage of housing, increasing rents and soaring home prices have hit crisis levels throughout the nation.
As a hotspot for relocation, the Grand Strand has seen tremendous year-over-year leaps in housing costs and rent. Rent has increased by 30% since 2019 in Myrtle Beach, according to data from ApartmentList.com, compared to a national jump of 21%.
Homes sold last month in Myrtle Beach had increased by 21.8% compared to June 2021, according to data from the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors. In June 2021, half of homes sold for less than $368,750. This June, half of homes sold for less than $449,000.
From January to June, the cost went up by 15.5%.
Townhomes and condos in Myrtle Beach saw an even bigger jump, increasing by 43.8% last month compared to June 2021, and increasing in price by 35.5% this year alone.
In Carolina Forest, where most of Horry County’s new development is occurring, the median price of a home went up 31.2% from June 2021 to June 2022, reaching $460,999. This year alone, the median cost of a home in the area increased by 30.8%.
Affordability was at a crisis point, Cino said, even before the pandemic hit.
“What we are seeing over the past two years and now is really an exasperation people are having finding affordable housing at all price points,” she said.
She said that issue is seen across all income levels, with a lack of supply cited as a driving factor.
Builders in the report claim that government regulation counts for 40.6% of development costs, with 3.2% spent toward applying for zoning approval. About 94% of those who responded said they had to rezone the land they built on in order to construct multifamily housing.
Cino said that while there’s a general agreement that there should be affordable housing, the community tends to fight the effort to actually build it. Rental housing, she said, specifically turns into a battleground, with neighborhoods commonly using lawsuits and local zoning processes to hold back projects. If NIMBY efforts delay the project, Cino said “you are stopped in your tracks.”
“There are many projects that will never come to fruition because of too many barriers at the development stage,” Cino said.
That stage is when Michael Smith and a group of Myrtle Beach neighbors filed an appeal regarding zoning for a new, multifamily project near their neighborhoods.
Smith moved into his home in March 2017 after a decade of vacationing in the area. He said he was attracted to the Grande Dunes area because of its closeness to medical services, a grocery store and pharmacies.
Then, other projects began in the area.
“They started clearing the land, and all of a sudden, it was like overnight the piece of property had been cleared, and then people started wondering what was going up here,” he said.
Smith talked to other neighbors, and then learned about a second project – 26.69 acres of land along Highway 17 Bypass between 71st Avenue North and 76 Avenue North, which would become the Cane Patch Grande Dunes. The development would bring hundreds of two-unit and multifamily housing to the Grande Dunes Planned Unit Development.
Smith argues that the project would bring more traffic to the area, and said he doesn’t want that much rental property in the area.
“We have no problem with it being owner-occupied homes or townhomes,” he said. “…We might not prevail, but we’d like to see a lower-density apartment complex.”
The appeal, filed in the Fifteenth Circuit Court of Common Pleas, claims that the City of Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board approved a change it didn’t have the authority to do so and that the decision goes against the area’s existing zoning.
Smith wants to sit down with the developers to negotiate lower density levels, and would prefer the space to only have single-family homes.
However, a lot of conflict could be avoided, Cino said, if local governments push to zone areas for apartment housing in advance, since very little land is currently set aside for it.
While apartments are a driver of economic development, she said residents often attach a negative stereotype to people who live in them.
Projects bring jobs to the area, some apartments are luxury projects and many people who live in them choose to do so.
“It is really at a community’s own peril that they push back on these projects,” Cino said. “Again, we know that affordable housing is really an economic necessity in communities. We need to provide more housing, all housing, at all price points.”