Hays housing in high demand, shortages remain a concern


HAYS, Kan. (KSNW) – Housing demands have skyrocketed throughout the past year, causing prices to jump and houses to become hard to find.  

Hays and Ellis County are the latest communities to address an ongoing housing shortage.

“In December of 2019, we had 101 homes on the market here. In December of this year, or in 2020, we had 50, and currently, we have about 30 homes on the market,” said Doug Williams, Grow Hays Executive Director.

Grow Hays’ recent housing report found, of the 30 limited houses for sale, close to half are listed at the upper end of the market at nearly $370,000 or higher. 

“That leaves very few in what we would consider the sweet spot for workforce housing,” said Williams.

Williams considers that sweet spot to be around $175,000 to $225,000. But currently, the area has just four houses listed in that price range. The average age of those houses is 50 years old.

Williams says the demand is outweighing the supply of the city and county.

A local real estate company says it is experiencing this demand first-hand.

“When homes hit the market, they tend to sell very quickly and it’s not uncommon to have multiple offers and above asking price,” said Adam Pray, Platinum Group Owner and Broker.

Over the past year, the area’s market has jumped 11% due to the limited housing supply. The average price of a home in the Hays market has gone from $177,000 to $196,000.

But what’s the cause of the growing demand? Both Williams and Pray say historically low interest rates are the driving factor.

“That has caused a lot of people that may be renting before to be able to buy now. It’s more affordable now,” said Williams.

Another aspect includes more people moving into the area.

“Folks from out of state are coming to Hays, it seems like in more numbers than we’ve noticed in years past,” said Pray.

City officials say the area’s future economic development and growth rely heavily on more affordable, workforce housing.

Heart of America RHID Development (Courtesy: Grow Hays)

“Housing is kinda the baseline. If you don’t have housing not much else matters,” said Williams. “So this has presented some pretty serious problems for trying to recruit workers to the area and for employers to find people to come and work for them.”

Currently, the city has a number of initiatives to address the needs of the city and county. Along with a rehabilitation program aimed at reviving older homes, the city is also partnering with commercial developers and various contractors to help build more housing.

Among the projects, is the Heart of America Rural Housing Incentive District (RHID) Development. This initiative will take place in three phases and will add nearly 75 homes to the area. The first phase is set to be complete within the coming months.

The city plans to continue to carry out a housing report annually to periodically assess the city and county’s needs.

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