A group of New Jersey-based companies in the home-building industry wants consumers to start asking questions about housing affordability.

The Builders League of South Jersey, a housing industry trade association that represents about 680 South Jersey-based companies, has launched a major public awareness campaign that includes “shocking in-your-face ads” on billboards, in print publications and on television, the group announced today.

The Builders League includes builders, developers, engineers, architects, engineers, professional planners, landscapers, designers, suppliers, subcontractors and tradesmen, suppliers, and other consulting professionals.

The ad campaign calls attention to the high cost of home prices vs. the income of typical working families. The median price of a new home in New Jersey is now $380,000, the group notes, while the average sales price of an existing home is $313,200 statewide. A typical working family earning the state’s median household income of $55,000 a year can afford a home costing approximately $160,000, according to the announcement today.

“New Jersey’s residents are frustrated by the cost of housing. The gap between homes that are affordable and what the average working residents can afford is widening,” said Michael H. Karmatz, president of the Builders League. “The fact is New Jersey suffers from a severe housing crisis. For years, the amount of homes allowed to be built has not met the demand. Instead, we are creating a society of the haves and have-nots.

One advertisement features a young boy with a sad expression. His father says, “Don’t worry. When Grandmom dies we’ll get the house.” The ad asks, “Where will New Jersey’s families live if we can’t build homes they can afford? Educate Yourself. You’re not getting the whole story.”

Another ad calls attention to water issues, and complications in obtaining water allocation permits for new development. This ad depicts young children playing in a sprinkler. The headline reads, “Look like fun? Not in New Jersey. Water shortages during flood season? You’re not getting the whole story. Educate yourself.”

Karmatz said, “Why should New Jersey residents care about this? It’s simple. Decisions that are made on how land is used or not used have a direct impact on housing costs for each and every resident, whether they own a home or not; whether they’re moving today or not. Time costs money. People need to understand that they can empower their legislators to address the housing crisis.”

The Builders League is asking residents to demand that their legislators focus on producing more housing in New Jersey.

“People assume that rising costs in housing equate solely to rising profits for developers. They also believe that all new housing will automatically mean rising property taxes for existing residents. It’s just not so,” Karmatz said. “There are many factors that affect the cost of housing in this state. Some – such as overregulation, duplication and time delays in the approval process – can be revamped to improve the availability and affordability of housing.”

The Builders League said that the red tape, including time delays and the need for multiple permits in home-building, can add an extra $70,000 to the cost of a new home, not including the cost of land, labor, materials and insurance.

“If workers can’t afford housing within a reasonable commute of their jobs, businesses won’t be able to maintain their workforce. That will neither help the economy nor improve the quality of life here in New Jersey,” Karmatz said.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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