As Cook County debates how to spend federal dollars, commissioners must consider the impact of real estate on the overall economy. Illinois needs an estimated 270,000 more homes to meet demand. Statewide, we have less than two months of housing inventory available, but Illinois trails all five other states in our Midwest region for new housing permits this year.
The lack of new housing permits in Illinois is counterintuitive when considering the economic impact of housing in Illinois. In 2020 alone, the real estate industry accounted for $143.5 billion or 16.5 percent of the Illinois gross state product. This far exceeds any other sector of our state’s economy. The National Association of REALTORS® calculated that the average home sale in Illinois generates almost $70,000 in local economic impact. Whether it’s new furniture, various trips to the hardware store or tipping a food delivery service on move-in day; home sales put real revenue into our local businesses.
Furthermore, home sales in 2021 helped our local government revenues during a time of uncertainty. In Cook County alone, the forecasted budget surplus for year-end was $60 million. The strong housing market was one of the primary reasons the county projected positive net results. The county collects fees at each real estate transaction paid at the time of closing (i.e. recording fees). So each property sold helps run the government in the short-term then property owners pay for long-term stability through property taxes supporting schools, police, fire, etc.
We have an incredible opportunity to unlock the American Dream of homeownership for local individuals and families. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), passed earlier this year in Congress, appropriates several billions of dollars directly to local communities. Cook County will receive nearly $1 billion. Therefore, the county and municipalities should dedicate federal dollars to support homeownership and the economy considering just the economic benefits. Programs created by the County could help with down-payment assistance in the form of grants or forgivable loans, construction of new homes, fixing up vacant and blighted properties, or helping local governments streamline housing permits. These are just a few ways that communities can make the American Dream of homeownership more attainable for all.
Adriann Murawski is the Local Government Affairs Director for the Illinois REALTORS® covering Cook County. Adriann has worked in the real estate industry for nearly twelve (12) years. Prior to her work in Cook County, she was with the National Association of REALTORS® as the State and Local Policy Representative in Washington, DC. Adriann is an alumna of the Goldie Initiative, a program designed to develop the next generation of women executives in the commercial real estate (CRE) industry.
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