OLATHE — Manhattan’s housing market has performed well compared to the rest of the state, according to information from Stan Longhofer, director of the Wichita State University Center for Real Estate.
Longhofer presented housing information Saturday morning at the Flint Hills Regional Leaders Retreat, which had 235 people in attendance during the two-day conference.
Lyle Butler, president and CEO of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, said housing is the number two issue for the region behind the workforce.
Longhofer provided stats from the Manhattan Association of Realtors that indicated a solid housing market.
The number of active listings in Manhattan has steadily climbed from an average of 250 in 2013 to an average of 350 in 2017.
“This is different than every other metropolitan area in the state,” Longhofer said. “Every other metro across the state, we’ve continued to see year-over-year declines in active listings.”
The area has a five-month supply of homes in the $150,000 to $250,000 range, which means it would take five months to sell the entire inventory if no additional homes came on the market.
Longhofer said most markets in the state have about a two-month supply.
“People are more willing to put their homes on the market in the Manhattan area,” he said.
Longhofer said he didn’t have a good answer for the listing increase “but if anything it reflects that things are healthy.”
Something that has been consistently brought up among leaders is the need for more affordable housing options.
Longhofer said this isn’t a unique issue. He said he hasn’t been to a community that didn’t think it had a housing problem.
“Often what we mean by housing challenges, especially affordable housing, is really housing quality issues,” he said. “You have houses that are affordable, but not necessarily in the quality and condition you would like.”
Longhofer acknowledged the issues with rental costs going up as buildings are improved.
“Renovation is expensive, and you really have challenges with the cost,” he said.
As leaders hope to draw more people in the region, the newcomers will need a place to stay.
Flint Hills Regional Council director Gary Stith said 40 percent of people who work in Manhattan don’t live there.
“We’re finding it’s difficult for Manhattan to provide housing for all of the people looking to come to Manhattan,” he said.
In response to this need, the council plans to create a website to provide a centralized area to promote the region’s communities. The council received a $10,000 grant from the Minnesota Housing Partnership to build the site.
Stith said communities within 45 minutes of employment centers of Manhattan, Junction City and Fort Riley can be listed on the website.
Each community would receive an individual page with information on its population, major industries, median housing and rental prices, and amenities.
Each community would pay $300 to become a part of the website and pay $100 for an annual maintenance fee.
Currently, the council has commitments from Alma, Alta Vista, Blue Township, Chapman, Clay Center, Council Grove, Dwight, Grandview Plaza, Junction City, Leonardville, Manhattan, Maple Hill, Ogden, Olsburg, Onaga, Randolph, Riley, St. Marys, Wakefield, Wamego, Westmoreland, White City, Woodbine, Milford and Geary County.
Stith said the website could go live in six months.