For a lot of us, social studies class was a while ago — along with our lessons in local government. And when you’re a prospective buyer looking at moving to a new area, or a seller ready to list your property, working with an agent who knows the ins and outs of your city and how it works is a must.
Just like your ninth-grade civics and economics teacher would tell you, local government affects your day-to-day life in a multitude of ways. The parks our kids play in, the firefighters that protect our families and homes, the buses and roads we rely on, new businesses and developments, and so much more. Of course, changes to these things don’t just have an impact on us — they also impact how we buy and sell homes and make sense of the housing market.
Good agents are constantly tuned in to what’s happening in their local community and able to answer buyer and seller questions about how what they see on the news or NextDoor could impact their upcoming sale or search. To kick off the fourth season of Melissa Unscripted, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan joined me on the podcast to help me understand some of the top things agents should know about their local government.
What’s on the ballot?
What we encounter at the ballot box can have a big impact on the housing market, public opinion, and the future of a city. Bond projects especially can excite buyers and paint a picture of what’s important in a community. For example, Guilford County voters recently passed historic school bonds totaling $1.7 billion to support our public schools. This is a big deal for prospective residents with children or who want kids down the road, especially if they’re moving into an area slated to get a brand-new school or a full renovation. A park and recreation bond would also bring millions in funding and big attractions to Greensboro’s park system if passed, including new additions to the Greensboro Science Center and a first-of-its-kind recreation center with a library in East Greensboro — two more big draws for families.
How much housing is there — and what’s on the horizon?
If your local planning department is processing a lot of rezoning applications, that means more housing is on the way! Mayor Vaughan told me that a number of rezonings over the last 18 months are bringing about 6,000 housing units to the area, from affordable to upscale. At a time when housing options seem scarce, knowing what will be available soon can be a comfort to buyers as well as to sellers looking to downsize within the area once they find a new place.
How can I support homeowners with housing-related needs?
Agents can’t have all the answers, all the time, especially as policies and programs change. It’s important to know who you can contact within the local government with questions and where you can find support for homeowners or first-time buyers with housing-related issues. In Greensboro, the Housing & Neighborhood Development Department has services for homeowners and renters, including the Housing Connect GSO homebuyer assistance program for first-time buyers. Another bond on the ballot is an affordable housing bond to help make ownership and upkeep possible, including permanent supportive housing and an emergency assistance fund for home repairs.
How much does it cost to live here — and what are the benefits?
The listing price won’t be the only number on a buyer’s mind when they’re thinking about their move. Property value trends and taxes affect a buyer now and later in terms of what their bill will look like and how much they can expect their value to increase. Buyers will also appreciate the information you can share about what day-to-day life will look like for them at a potential new address: county vs. city services, residential recycling programs, options for utilities, free events, assistance available for seniors, and more.
What vision do our leaders have for our city?
When I talk to prospective residents, I don’t only cover what’s here now — I also talk about what’s to come. Being able to talk about the vision local government and community leaders have for your town helps buyers picture their lives there 5 or 10 years down the road. In Greensboro, we’ve seen the payoff recently of big projects like the new Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts and we’re looking forward to welcoming Toyota, Boom Supersonic, and other businesses to the area. Getting buyers excited about what’s new and what’s next is a great way to sell them in your city.
A big thank you to Mayor Vaughan for joining me on the podcast! I’m looking forward to bringing you more interesting conversations this season.