Lebanon, MO. — Jeremy Goforth of Legacy Homes started building full-time just a few months ago, and his timing couldn’t have been better. The City of Lebanon began offering incentives for developers just last year.
“We love the building process,” he said. “From beginning to end. And it’s time to really strike on it and build.”
Lebanon selected 400 empty lots and is waiving specific fees for homes built on those lots. City officials hope saving builders some money upfront will pay-off by bringing in new homeowners.
“Every penny counts when you’re a developer,” said Brian Thompson, president and CEO of Lebanon Regional Economic Development Inc.
Lebanon is now on track to build 50 new homes as part of the incentive program. In its first year, 25 lots were licensed for construction. And now, Thompson says the city is moving into phase two, preparing for 25 more houses.
“The world has gotten a little bit chaotic in the first half of 2020 and hoping to turn a corner and start swinging some hammers and seeing some action,” Thompson said.
The home value has to be under $200,000 for developers to qualify for the incentives. And that’s available for developers or a person looking to build on those lots. The fees waived under this program include the building permit, electric, water and sewer hook-up, and electric meter base. The city says the savings can total between $2,500 to $3,000 on average per development.
Thompson says a study from 2015 showed most of the demand for homes in the Lebanon area was in the $130-150,000 range.
“That’s the sweet spot,” Thompson said.
And builders say they can’t build quickly enough. Someone has already shown interest in one of the houses before it’s even finished.
“There’s such a need for homes here,” Goforth said.
Thompson says affordable housing is one part of economic development and recruiting companies and talent to Lebanon.
“We have 5,000 people who come to work in Laclede County every day, but they go home and sleep and live somewhere else. So, we want to offer something for them to, potentially, purchase. We also want to see folks who are renting right now, who maybe just haven’t had the right structure or the right price point, we want to offer it for them. So, they can find their home.”
The Goforth’s are building some of those homes and a family legacy.
“My dad built, I grew up doing it,” Goforth said.
But Holly Goforth says they’re also investing in their community.
“We are raising our children here, and we try to teach our children to give back and to do something for the community, so that the people that are coming in, the people are born here, or who leave for college, want to come back, and they have a good place to live,” she said. “And we are continuing to make the community thrive.”
There are also incentives for homeowners like property tax freezes and tax abatements. But that’s not on every lot.
Thompson says Lebanon has a Chapter 353 tax abatement program that the buyer could receive for lots that fall in blighted areas, which means property taxes would be frozen for several years, depending on the property.
Thompson says homeowners can check with him to see which lots qualify for the homeowners incetives, or for more information on the developer’s program. (417) 533-5627.