Tourist Homes and Affordable Housing?

At the Area Plan Commission (APC) meeting on July 24, 2018, “Jane Gore, an Area Plan Commission member, asked the board to consider setting some sort of limits on the number of tourist homes allowed in the county out of concern that they’re crowding long-term residents out of affordable options.”  Ref: Brown County Democrat, Facebook post.

This concern is unlikely to be warranted. The advantages of the current policy for tourist homes outweigh the disadvantages of limiting their number.

Interesting that the benefits of the Maple Leaf and Big Woods/Hard Truth Hills developments include the expectation for bringing in more year-round tourism.  Why restrict opportunities for people to serve this market?

The  advantages of tourist homes:
  • They generate at least double the revenue in property taxes than what a full-time resident would pay
  • They collect the 5% innkeepers tax
  • They provide tourists with options
  • They provide competition to the hotels and other tourist home rentals
  • They generate revenue for owners – many of which reside in the county and want the freedom to determine their investment options without unnecessary government interference
  • They are generally the higher end homes – not in the “affordable” category for purchase or monthly rent
The disadvantages of tourist homes:
  •  Marginally less inventory of homes available for purchase by full or part-time residents.
  • Limiting the supply of tourist homes will likely increase the value of the existing tourist homes
What is affordable?

In 2014, 52.51% of  Brown County residents filing state tax returns identified income at $30,000 or less.  With an income of $30K, estimates that an individual with an acceptable credit rating, with no monthly debt payment and no down payment, could afford a $131,200 home.  A monthly debt payment of $200.00 would reduce the affordable amount to $102,500.

The planning office keeps the inventory of tourist homes. There are approximately 300 tourist homes in the county which is less than 5% of the total number of the 8,400 residences.  (1)

Tourist homes in the county that have been listed for sale are generally at the higher end of the price scale e.g., not in the “affordable” category for purchase or rent.   A review of the sales and assessed value of the tourist homes would provide another source of information regarding affordability.

(1) For the county income survey that was conducted last year, the number of total residences surveyed was 8,400.  This included apartments.

Disclaimer:  I do not own nor am I interested in owning a tourist home. I am not associated with the tourism industry. 


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