Anderson updates on housing study
Gary Anderson, consultant to the Marshall County Board of Supervisors, recently presented the details of a housing and marketing study to the City of Holly Springs board of aldermen and mayor.
The study was underwritten by the county in October 2017, he said, when the board of supervisors felt new job growth was not producing windfalls in the housing market. Supervisors were seeing a booming economic development in the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park, but no standard housing starts were forthcoming.
New rooftops were needed to expand the county’s tax base, the supervisors said.
The eight-month study involved interviewing individuals in the business sector in an attempt to find the impediments to the housing market which crashed in the recession of 2009 and never came back.
Anderson said from 1990 to 2007 the county’s population increased by 6,000. Firsttime homebuyers were coming to Marshall County and commuting to work outside the county. Marshall County went from a rural to a low-density suburban county.
“In 2008, new housing starts came to a screeching halt and in 2010 the county lost population by several thousand,” Anderson said.
Growth in industrial and warehousing jobs put the county at the top tier of economic development in Mississippi.
“So we see that as an opportunity to launch new housing development,” he said.
A marketing strategy was undertaken to focus on increasing the quality of life for residents and to implement a new homebuyer program to provide living spaces for those who are working in the growing industrial sector.
Bankers and realtors were invited to discuss how to help encourage new housing growth as opposed to adding more mobile homes to the county. Mobile homes decline in value rapidly as compared to standard housing. The county’s tax base does not expand unless standard homes are built.
Several marketing groups are to be added to the study to determine how to use the media to cast a favorable light on Marshall County as a place to live.
Location, reasonable land prices and the opportunity to both live and work in the county are seen as incentives for new growth in the housing sector.
The board of supervisors has pledged to put $50,000 into developing a planning and marketing strategy, Anderson said.
Alderman Tim Liddy asked Anderson if bankers, appraisers and tax assessors say certain properties such as mobile homes lose value quickly.
Anderson said mobile homes do not have comparable value as standard-built homes and also that the housing market is not robust.
“It’s not a sellers’ market; it’s a buyers’ market,” he said.
Liddy asked if the study included the education sector.
“There’s a bit of a disconnect there,” Anderson said. “Surrounding districts are ‘A’ and ‘B’ districts and we are ‘C’ districts. Recent data show a downturn and three out of four high schools are a ‘D’ rating.”
Alderman Mark Miller said educational opportunity, safety and entertainment are things the board of aldermen is focusing on.
“We’re losing population in schools in all places in the county,” Anderson said. “We are losing students to Hickory Flat, Oxford and DeSoto County. We have to reverse these trends.”
Mayor Kelvin Buck said marketing strategies can’t lie about the issues.
“So you have to address these issues,” he said. “The city has some challenges - loss of population. There has been some leveling off of the population due to apartments. But there is not new housing development. Our annexation (plan) is to give people an opportunity to develop some houses. Holly Springs needs to be in this marketing strategy.”
“We accept that with open arms,” Anderson said. “We invite you to attend our meetings to see where we are going as far as hiring a marketing firm.”
Alderman Lennell Lucas asked Anderson to provide some examples of what type of incentives would be offered to prospective developers.
Anderson said the tax rules could change so that when a subdivision is opened by a developer, the vacant lots would not be charged at the commercial rates until the lots have a house for sale on them.
That is, unsold lots will be taxed the same until a house is sold on a lot.
“That’s good work and we don’t want to be left out,” Buck said.