Meeting housing needs

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Subdivisions like this one in Benton are being built across Bossier Parish to accommodate a growing population.

Bossier is having to find room for transplants, growing families

Ed’s. note: Today concludes a three-part series on issues affecting growth in Bossier Parish.

An upsurge of about 800 new jobs at Computer Sciences Corporation at the Cyber Innovation Center over the next four years carries with it the need for those families to find suitable housing.

That’s a tall order in many areas but for Bossier Parish and its booming housing industry, keeping pace with the demand is not expected to be a problem since there are more than 1,500 lots available in platted subdivisions.

In many fast-growing cities and suburbs, huge subdivisions of 300-500 acres are not uncommon. Rather than a few huge subdivisions, what Bossier Parish has right now are scores of small to medium sized subdivisions where the level of build-out can be ramped up or down to meet the housing demand.

CSC, a global leader in next-generation information technology services and solutions, announced earlier this year plans to locate at the National Cyber Research Park in a new facility adjacent to the Cyber Innovation Center. The new company will have relatively high-paying jobs that mesh with the price range of many of the new homes being built in the area.

For Bossier Parish, as with many areas nationwide, the greatest housing challenge is not so much with the number of new houses being constructed as it is for young families and those with more modest incomes being able to find affordable homes.

Sherry Stapf Tolisano, broker at Spartan Realty in south Bossier City, said the abundance of small and mid-sized subdivisions located throughout Bossier Parish is a strong point in the Bossier housing market.

“People can find a place to be where they feel like they can fit in,” Tolisano said.

Some subdivisions, she noted, have young families with small children, others have families with teens,others have older adults and some have varying mixes of age groups.

In Bossier Parish, figures show the average household income is higher than in Caddo Parish, and new construction homes here in general reflect the higher income. But,construction costs virtually everywhere have shot up over the past 30-40 years and the cost of owning a good home has particularly outpaced people with a modest income who provide needed services but whose pay level is at the lower end of the spectrum.

Most new homes in Bossier Parish, Tolisano said, have prices that range from about $150,000 for a new entry-level home to the $230-240,000 range.

The best selection, she said, is around the $200,000 price range.People can find good homes in nice subdivisions in the $185,000 to $200,000 range but those homes typically don’t have some of the upgrades in materials and finishes that would be found in homes in the $230,000 to $240,000 range.

With a strong local economy and high housing demand, she said lenders are able to set guidelines such as typically a minimum 640 credit score and debt-to-income ratios that vary slightly by lender.

For many people,such as low to medium income families who cannot afford or qualify for a new home, some of the most practical choices are to buy an older home or a starter home in the Haughton area rather than in the peak demand area north of I-220.

“North Bossier is booming,” she said. “If you like restaurants or shopping, it’s a few minutes away. Some people want to be close to that kind of thing. Other people just like the quiet of south Bossier.”

For people on a budget shopping for an older home, she said a key is balancing the cost with a good neighborhood. Many older subdivisions have good quality homes that may not be as fancy as a new home, but represent a good value. Just like on some television shows where a couple’s dream home is fiscally impossible, a solid home in an older neighborhood can be the best option.

Subdivisions like Shady Grove, Golden Meadows, and parts of old Greenacres are among places with potential good budget homes in good neighborhoods, along with some more modern but not new homes in Dogwood.

A caveat is ensuring the house is worth the cost and in good condition, since sometimes a homeowner wanting to sell may overprice the home. A person looking for an older home, for example, may be able to afford $125,000 for a home but not an additional $40,000 to upgrade or renovate the home.