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Pennsbury School Board Poised to Approve a New High School

On Thursday, the Pennsbury School Board is slated to vote on whether to go ahead with a new high school to replace both the west and east campuses instead of renovating the west campus building. Both existing schools would be razed.

School District Chief Financial Officer Chris Berdnik told DVJournal, “The target for the high school project is $250 million. The bond issues in question include other capital projects, such as the close out of the Boehm Middle School renovation/addition.”

However, a presentation to the finance committee by PFM Financial Advisors showed the district would pay $911 million for the new school plus existing debt service through a “wrap-around” bond issue. The bond issue is structured so the district makes lower payments at the beginning and higher toward the end, with the bonds retiring in 2061.

During public comment at the Nov. 9 facilities committee meeting, Lower Makefield resident Tim Daly said he was not against building a new high school. Still, he would like a straightforward analysis of the cost of renovating the building, which underwent a previous renovation in 2005. The district’s estimate for that is $175,000.

“That’s greatly concerning. So, I’m all for a new building, but it’s about what we can properly afford. And I don’t think that we have put our best foot forward. Because if (Superintendent) Dr. Thomas Smith had decided from the beginning, he would not want to do the renovation. And he has stated it over and over and over again. And it’s not his choice. It’s the school board’s choice. His job is to do what he’s told when he’s told to do it or get out,” said Daly.

Daly said labor unions, which donate to the Democrats who control Bucks County, would benefit more from a new building than a renovation.

“And obviously, all of us in the room have read the newspapers, and we’re aware of the federal investigation that is going on for which Pennsbury has twice been part of those federal investigations in the past (for) building projects because of the involvement of one particular union that is the focus of this investigation,” he said.

“And that if you’re going to move forward with the double-demolition new building, I’m going to ask that no union under federal investigation be allowed to produce any services on this project until that investigation is officially closed,” said Daly.

Robert Abrams, also from Lower Makefield,  said a second opinion was needed and asked the school board to “go back to the drawing board and give us a  new number.”

“Which means, if we’re right and you’re lowballing, that’s fraud,” said Abrams.

“If we do arbitrage like PFM suggests and the market tanks, they call the bonds and reissue the bonds and get paid a second time, and a third time, and a fourth time at a $1 million a pop. This is about PFM. This is not about Pennsbury,” said Abrams.

“Without a second opinion, I think any board member who votes for it should be held personally liable because they didn’t do their due diligence and they did not complete their fiduciary duty to the taxpayers. And they did not complete the job they were sworn in to do,” he said.

Newly elected school Board member Donna Abrescia asked the board to wait until December to vote on whether to build a new high school.

“One can only assume this is being rushed through to use the vote of a lame-duck board member,” Abrescia said. “This is the largest spending package posed to the taxpayer probably in the history of the district except when we actually built the schools. And it’s going to impact taxpayers and our tax rolls for decades to come.

“There are far too many considerations and questions to push this through,” she said. “The numbers are all over the place. Tonight, they were different than what I saw a month ago. I’m just asking that we slow down and wait for the new board to be sworn in. We were elected to do what’s best for Pennsbury as a whole, and we owe it to our students and our taxpayers to be sure the numbers presented are fully vetted and accurate before we spend this astronomical sum of money.”

Dave Ahrens of Falls also questioned a vote by a “lame duck” board.

“I don’t see what the urgency would be in us moving forward with this without fully vetting the numbers,” said Ahrens. “This endeavor has been fraught with duplicity, and one only need look at the figures currently in dispute…It is the taxpayers’ money.”

David Mann, who uses a wheelchair because of a diving accident, said a new high school is needed to correct accessibility problems at the old high schools.

Colin Coyle, who was on the committee for the future of the high school, said west is in bad shape and favors a new building.

“Our athletes train in spare rooms and moldy gyms,” said Coyle. Pennsbury students continue to “earn accolades while working against the facilities…built for their grandparents,” said Coyle.

“It’s time that we give our students a facility that meets their abilities. Let’s invest in those kids and let the Falcons fly.”

Mike Falcowitz of Falls Township also favors a new building.

The father of five, two of whom have graduated from Pennsbury, said the West high school building has “no historical value.”

Falcowitz said he was a member of the steamfitters union, and “the cost is not mostly electrical,” referring to Daly’s comment about not wanting the union under investigation to benefit. The “vast majority” will be “civil work,” said Falcowitz.

A mother whose young children will be Pennsbury students is also for the new high school and does not care how much property taxes will rise.

“I want what’s best for my children. That’s first and foremost,” she said.

Daly told DVJournal that with 2,800 high school students, and more likely from new developments and a possible merger with Morrisville, district officials are underestimating the amount of classroom space they will need to lessen the cost estimates. With a new high school, some students now in private and charter schools may also return to the district.

As for taxes that the mother downplayed, Daly said taxpayers would likely see those quadruple plus the annual Act 1 increases.

“They are not telling the community the true cost of the construction financing,” said Daly. “Just the construction cost.”

CICIO: FERC Nears One of the Costliest Energy Decisions in History

President Biden got it right in his 2022 State of the Union Address when he said “capitalism without competition is exploitation.” Competition is the keystone of the American economic model and its success. Unfortunately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is considering a proposed rule on electricity transmission that not only fails to support the expansion of competition but also backs away from existing rules designed to usher in a new era of transmission competition to lower electricity costs for consumers.

According to a study by Princeton University, the United States will need to spend $2.1 trillion on transmission by 2050 if it is to reach net-zero emissions in that time. Competitively bid transmission projects have been shown to offer savings as great as 40 percent, which means requiring transmission projects to be competitively bid could save ratepayers $480 billion. Either way, consumer electric bills will substantially increase, but competition can reduce those cost increases and electricity price inflation.

The president, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission are squarely supporting competition, as outlined in a joint comment submitted to FERC backing transmission competition. In a statement, the director of the FTC Office of Policy Planning, Elizabeth Wilkins, said, “Competition is still the best way to ensure that our electric grid is built out in a way that lowers rates, increases innovation, and improves sustainability and resiliency.” Despite this, FERC is proposing an anti-competition policy — putting it add odds with the rest of the executive branch.

The problem is that incumbent monopoly electric utilities are opposed to competition and cheered when the proposed rule to scale back competition was released. Electric utilities make money by tacking on a 10 percent to 12 percent return to their equity investments — and continue to receive returns on their transmission investments for up to 40 years. These monopolies fear competition, as evidenced by the voluminous comments they have filed to prevent transmission competition.

Under the Obama administration in 2011, FERC issued Order 1000, designed to usher in a new era of competition by eliminating a federal right of first refusal for incumbent utilities. However, in a giveaway to incumbent utility companies, state-level right of first refusal laws have limited the number of competitively bid projects to only 3 percent of all transmission projects nationwide.

From 2014 to 2021, the transmission portion of consumer electric bills has increased a staggering 79 percent while the energy and distribution cost components have remained relatively low. The explanation is simple: by blocking competition, incumbent utilities have been able to steadily increase consumer prices without the fear of losing business.

All Americans have been hit hard by record Consumer Price Index inflation, but more than half of that growth has come from energy price increases. Electricity price inflation came in at 15.5 percent on an annualized basis in the latest CPI report, outpacing the inflation rate.

While higher gasoline prices tend to get all the attention, in 2021, the typical American consumer spent  $179 per month on gasoline and $176.67 on heating, comprising electricity, natural gas and fuel oil and accounts for about 3 percent of household expenditures. A Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey reveals that 33 percent of 44 million renter households across the country were behind on their energy bills in the past year.

Electricity transmission competition is a proven anti-inflation policy that works every time. New Jersey offers an example of how transmission competition fits into the picture of fighting electricity price inflation and connecting renewable energy projects with the grid. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities recently concluded their largest competitively bid transmission project, with savings ranging from 50 percent to 66 percent — or between $2.3 billion and $4.6 billion.

Congress and the Biden administration have made fighting inflation a priority while also working to lower the price of energy. Both policies can be accomplished by embracing electricity transmission competition. FERC should stand up for consumers and lead the fight for transmission competition instead of blocking it.

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ALPERT: For Electric Cars, Follow the Money

The Inflation Reduction Act allocates $340 billion in a complicated scheme of tax credits and rebates for electric vehicles (EVs). The administration plans for nationwide charging stations and an all-electric federal automotive fleet by 2030.

Further, it has set a target of making EVs to be half of all new vehicles sold in 2030, estimated by the Edison Electric Institute to be 5.6 million EVs.

Electricity must be generated to power these EVs. Putting aside the fantastic transition of electricity generation and transmission to renewables, how insane are EV aspirations given the cancellation or re-examination of domestic oil leases, rejoining the Paris Climate Accords, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the prohibition of drilling on federal lands, the cancellation of the Keystone pipeline, and the establishment of energy conservation standards for a variety of home appliances? Not to mention numerous other actions to curtail domestic energy production.

The point of this environmental spear is the EV business. That point is blunt, given the average electric car price (about $66,000) is out of reach of the typical car buyer. Another negative is that EV insurance costs are likely to be higher with more hefty premiums for damage coverage (battery repair costs) and product liability risks.

As if this is not enough, there are the batteries themselves. The major components of a typical battery  include: graphite (52 kg), aluminum (35 kg), nickel (29 kg), copper (20 kg), steel (20 kg), manganese (10 kg), cobalt (8 kg), lithium (6 kg) and iron (5 kg). The weighted average of these components’ price changes in the past year has been plus 249 percent.

The problem of cost is serious, but by taking the ridiculous EV route, there are much deeper difficulties for trade related to the battery input supply. For example, natural graphite is not produced in the United States; however, the U.S. consumes considerable amounts of graphite. With projected2030 EVs sold, U.S. imports of graphite (currently one-third from China) will have to increase by 732 percent to produce EV batteries alone.

Turning to nickel, the United States has one operating nickel mine scheduled to close in 2026. With 2030 anticipated EV production, imported nickel would increase by 94 percent. Such an increase will require America to turn to more problematic import sources.

Manganese has not been produced domestically since 1970. With EV production in 2030 as projected,  manganese imports will increase by19 percent. The United States imports 85 percent of its total consumption from such unreliable suppliers as Gabon and South Africa.

Turning to cobalt, the United States consumes 6,700 metric tons of cobalt annually and imports more than 75 percent of it. If forecast  EV sales in the United States come to pass, imports and/or production of American cobalt will have to increase 986 percent).

The most challenging component of EV batteries is lithium. The United States has a single lithium brine-producing operation in Nevada generating an unrevealed (“avoiding proprietary data”) amount. As of now, we use 2,000 tons of lithium per year; at least 25 percent in 2021 and no less than 50 percent in 2020 were imported. If the number of EVs are as anticipated, the imports of lithium for electric cars alone will need to increase by 2,211 percent, or more than 22 times current levels of consumption in 2030. 

Considering that lithium increased in price in the past year by more than 300 percent, lithium is very likely to become a critical bottleneck. The reliable availability of lithium is a concern of importers with more than 75 percent of the lithium coming from Australia and Chile. 

While lithium sources are under development, worldwide production increases are certainly far in the future.

Permitting for mining and related activities is a costly and lengthy process. Permitting for a mine takes 10 years or more, assuming low numbers of lawsuits and minimal legal wrangling. The Interagency Working Group on Mining Reform has been considering how to streamline the law, but any changes will need full legislative and executive approvals and will take a long time, even ignoring the inevitable litigation delays.

An additional obstacle to EV production is the Chinese domination of the EV market. China produces 51 percent of the EVs manufactured. The United States produced 9 percent, trailing Germany. The global market is growing, with the Chinese the biggest consumer giving it market power beyond that of other countries.

Summarizing American climate policy is absurd because it will collide with so many roadblocks from domestic power generation to procurement of EV inputs. It’s not too late to turn around to steer public policy in a reasonable direction rather than wasting resources in the EV dead-end.

BALTO: Vulnerable Patients Are Being Squeezed By Middlemen Schemes

The dust has settled on the midterm elections, and we are back to an era of divided government. Healthcare continues to take center stage as many Americans struggle to afford prescription drugs, and efforts to increase patients’ access, improve accessibility, and lower the cost of prescriptions remain unresolved.

The current environment is a ripe opportunity for policymakers to focus on addressing a policy problem that both parties agree denies choice and raises patient costs. It is time to crack down on the behavior of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), hidden middlemen working on behalf of insurers who have more say about which drugs you take and what they cost you than most patients realize.

These middlemen have developed complicated schemes to prevent patients from accessing the medicines their doctors recommend — including denying them the full benefit of any copay assistance vulnerable people rely on to afford their medications.

Many manufacturers provide financial copay assistance to patients with rare, life-threatening or complex chronic conditions, contributing $12 billion in 2021. PBMs, however, have developed schemes to pocket this assistance for themselves and their insurer clients without giving patients full credit. These programs are known as copay accumulators and copay maximizers, and they are sticking patients with a greater share of prescription drug costs and other costs related to their illness.

Copay accumulators are a scheme where copay assistance that would normally count toward a patient’s insurance plan’s deductible and the out-of-pocket maximum is prevented from doing so. Once the aid runs out, too often, patients cannot afford the sudden, high costs and will stop taking the vital medicine their doctors have prescribed. The likelihood that a plan includes a copay accumulator is fairly high — 43 percent in 2021 — up from 28 percent in 2018.

In a maximizer scheme, PBMs require patients to participate in the program to have their drugs covered. The maximum value of the manufacturer’s copay program is usually applied evenly throughout the year. While this may sound like it benefits patients, the scheme fails to count assistance toward deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums — forcing patients to come up with these costs that have risen dramatically. And anyone with a chronic illness knows that prescription drugs are not the only costs patients incur: Doctors’ visits, lab tests, medical equipment and occasionally hospital stays are all part of it. Not being able to apply copay assistance to their deductibles means patients have to foot more of the bills out of pocket for these services even as the plans rake in more money.

One would expect our federal agencies, tasked with protecting consumers, would step to the plate and regulate these schemes, but they have not. Unfortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has allowed these accumulator and maximizer policies to flourish by permitting insurers to exclude copay assistance from cost-sharing calculations. In response, patient advocacy groups filed a lawsuit challenging a recent rule from CMS that permitted insurers to use copay accumulators, alleging the rule violates existing federal law and directly contradicts the government’s definition of cost-sharing.

Lawmakers at the federal and state levels have a renewed opportunity to do their part and prohibit PBMs and plans from implementing these schemes. Sixteen states have banned copay accumulators, but that affects only 10 percent of all commercially insured patients. The time for federal action is now to enact legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers — the HELP Copays Act — which would reverse CMS’ rule allowing insurers to use these schemes.

It is time to stand up to PBMs lining their pockets at patients’ expense. If policymakers want to show they are serious about helping patients afford their prescription drugs, they need to overhaul the environment that has allowed PBMs and health plans to create a drug supply system to benefit themselves over patients.

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New Report Says Inflation Will Cost Families $4,400 This Year Alone

If your household is impacted by inflation, you might want to have a word with your elected officials. A new report from the American Consumer Institute (ACI) ‘s Center for Citizen Research says excessive spending, regulations, and restrictions on domestic energy production have driven up prices for consumers and businesses.

“The combination of increased spending, energy shortages, and increased regulations have led to increases in inflation that have far outpaced wage increases,” according to the report. “Based on our analysis and those of others, consumers are likely to lose thousands of dollars this year alone — by one measure, $4,400 per household in 2022 — disproportionately hurting poorer Americans and those on fixed incomes.”

The report relies on data from the federal Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Department of Commerce, among others.

“This report shows that inflation is increasing much faster than the average wages of American workers, which impacts consumer purchasing power,” says American Consumer Institute’s president and CEO, Steve Pociask. “This is hurting all consumers, but particularly those with the lowest incomes and those on fixed incomes.”

The solution, according to the report, is for Congress and the Biden administration to acknowledge the connection between increased federal spending and rising inflation.

The Biden administration has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin and supply chain issues for the current 9.1 percent inflation rate. Biden has also blamed Republicans in Congress for getting behind his plan to combat inflation.

“Under my plan for the economy we made extraordinary progress, and put America in a position to tackle a worldwide problem that’s worse everywhere but here: inflation,” Biden said during a June 14 speech in Philadelphia. “The problem is, Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to stop my plans to bring down costs on ordinary families.”

That, said Biden, is why his plan “is not finished.”

Brittany Yanick, a spokeswoman for Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican running for Senate, said, “”Pennsylvanians are being crushed by this inflation crisis, but President Biden and John Fetterman want to continue making groceries, gas, and everyday life more expensive through more burdensome regulations, supply chain issues, and out-of-control spending.”

If elected “Oz will work with anyone who wants to see America innovate and drive down the cost of energy in Pennsylvania, move our supply chains back on American soil, and make it easier to buy food and simple things like baby formula. Pennsylvania families have had enough of the radical left. It’s time for change,” she said.

ACI says Congress and the White House should work together to combat inflation, but not in the way the president might want.

“They must take steps to alleviate cost-push inflationary pressure,” the ACI authors recommend. “These pressures have emerged mainly from constraints on supply and onerous regulations which are driving up the price of everyday essentials for consumers.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, the former president of the Chester County Chamber and the Republican who is running for Congress against Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) said, “Of course inflation is a problem; its problem number one, two and three. While Biden and Chrissy Houlahan tell us to celebrate that gas is only $4.51, we live in the real word: things are really bad. While the so-called “experts” debate whether we’re in a recession, we lose ground every paycheck; every time we go to buy groceries; every time we buy gas.

“Houlahan helped create this mess,” Ciarrrocchi added. “First she ignored it; now, her so-called ‘solutions’ are more of what created this mess. I know inflation is crushing us, I don’t need experts to explain it to me. That’s why I’m running: to fix this mess.”

The authors maintain that recent actions and political efforts by Congress to increase regulations and taxes and impose costs on businesses “ultimately reflected in higher consumer prices.” Similarly, government regulations on domestic energy supplies lead to shortages that drive up domestic energy prices.

“Second, the administration must accept that government stimulus has created demand-pull tensions, where excessive spending creates demand in excess of supply,” the authors wrote. “While this may have been necessary early during the COVID crisis, its continuation and magnitude fueled price hikes, and adding further stimulus in the future will only do the same.”

Instead, Biden and his allies in Congress have stepped up spending, first on a bipartisan $280 billion microchip and science research bill and now a $739 billion package of tax hikes, green energy spending, and increased healthcare subsidies. Economists have debated whether the bill, which raises tax collections by more than $500 billion, will have any measurable impact on inflation.

new analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, however, notes that only $21 billion in the projected $305 billion of inflation-reducing debt reduction comes in the first five years. The other 90 percent doesn’t happen until after 2026.

“It is time for some self-control by policymakers and to avoid future policies that will only hurt the very consumers these actions are meant to help,” reads the ACI report.

Joseph P. Fuhr, Jr., emeritus professor of economics at Widener University, agrees.

“This report documents that wages are not increasing as fast as inflation. Low-income people are considerably harmed by this situation. Their wages do not enable them, the same purchasing power, but they have little savings to maintain the same level of consumption. Also, fixed income poor people are harmed even more since in many cases their fixed incomes do not have an inflation index that helps maintain their purchasing power.”


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McGILLIS: California Has It Wrong on EV Mandate; Pennsylvania Shouldn’t Follow Suit

Notorious for its crime and its outrageous cost of living, California seems an odd choice for Pennsylvania to mimic. And yet, with the adoption of California’s onerous electric vehicle rules, the commonwealth would be doing just that.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has submitted a proposal for wholesale adoption of the California Air Resources Board’s electric vehicle (EV) program. The California rules import would impose new requirements on automakers and dealerships to stock lots with EVs.

In essence, the combined California-Pennsylvania mandate would command automakers to deliver increasing numbers of EVs for sale in Pennsylvania each year. Should they fail to meet the quotas, automakers will be required to buy credits from others that have banked them, like EV-only Tesla. There’s little doubt that adopting the California program would result in more EV proliferation. In the most recent data year, more than 7 percent of the new cars sold in California were EVs, leading the nation as a percentage of sales and pushing the cumulative number of EVs on the state’s roads to nearly half a million. But does the value-add of the program exceed the additional costs to the auto industry that eventually filter down to all of us? The evidence says no.

One commonly peddled myth about California’s EV program is that it increases consumer choice. The truth is there’s no barrier to EV purchases as it is and EV sales are already growing. In the last three years, the number of EV registrations in Pennsylvania has tripled.

While for some families, especially those with smaller budgets or more kids, EVs make little sense; for others, EVs are a smart choice, particularly if they have the luxury of another longer-ranger vehicle for road trips. In the open market, EVs have already earned a significant share of sales and are here to stay. They don’t need more help.

The great irony is the world’s leading electric vehicle mogul, Elon Musk, agrees. According to Musk, the government should “get out of the way and not impede progress,” serving more as a “referee” and less as a “player on the field.”

Of course, Pennsylvania’s adoption of California’s rules would be just one small part of a larger government push for EVs. Other parts of this agenda include the existing $7,500 tax credit for the wealthy car buyers who choose to go electric and the proposed $7.5 billion of spending on subsidized EV charging stations.

“Rules and regulations are immortal,” Musk said at The Wall Street Journal’s December CEO Council event. “They don’t die. The vast majority of rules and regulations live forever … there’s not really an effective garbage collection system for removing rules and regulations, so this hardens the arteries of civilization where you are able to do less and less over time.”

Convoluted programs like California’s EV rules are prime exhibits of this odious phenomenon, clogging our economy with red tape that only drives up costs.

No state shows the harms of government tangles like California. Ranking 48th in the Cato Institute’s state economic freedom list, California also has the highest poverty rate in the country and is among the states with the highest levels of income inequality.

EV subsidies and requirements do nothing to resolve these issues, and likely make them worse. With its requirements on automakers and dealers and its extensive state subsidies for buyers, California policy is shifting the cost of expensive EVs onto the general public, despite the fact that EV buyers are far richer than average.

While just over 30 percent of U.S. households have an annual income in excess of $100,000, more than 55 percent of new EV buyers do. Even looking at the used car market, the EV purchases skew severely towards the rich. In California for example, the average income of a used EV buyer is 66 percent higher than the average income of someone buying a conventional used car.

Adding insult to injury, EV evangelists like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tout the savings a household will benefit from in the absence of weekly tank fill-ups, seemingly forgetting that the average household cannot afford the delta in upfront purchase costs between expensive EVs and more affordable, comparable, conventional cars. Compounding this injustice, California taxes gasoline purchases at the highest clip in the nation while giving wealthy EV drivers a free pass to use the same infrastructure shared by everyone.

EV policies are a microcosm of California’s two-tiered society. It’s not a model Pennsylvania should follow.

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Location Remains Key Factor in Hot DelVal Housing Market

Is now a good time to buy or sell a home? That depends on who you ask. But what is certain is if you’re in the market for a new home you’re likely to be paying significantly more it than would have been the case a year ago.

In Pennsylvania, the price of homes is 8.3 percent higher this year than last year, according to a formula used in the industry. At the same time, the number of homes sold fell 5.8 percent and the number of homes on the market dropped 14.2 percent using the same year-over-year formula.

Bob Wexler of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Eastern Pennsylvania notes prices have been on the rise throughout the Philadelphia area.

“Home values in Philly are up 14.9 percent from last year,” he said. “The story is more interesting in the suburbs though. Homes in the suburbs are selling faster than ever, about twice as fast compared to 2020 and prices are higher.”

In Bucks County, prices were up 17.8 percent over last year. In Chester County, the increase was 14.8 percent. In Delaware County prices rose 18.4 percent compared to a year ago while in Montgomery County the figure was 18.2 percent.

In some municipalities, however, the increase in the cost of a home was even more dramatic. In Schwenksville, the average home sold for $472,500, 45.4 percent more than at this time last year, using the year-over-year formula. But the 21 homes sold in that community were in demand; the median number of days they were on the market was five.

In Royersford, 45 homes sold in September for a median price of $315,000, an increase of 7.1 percent; after being on the market for six days, making it one of the most competitive communities in the state in terms of housing availability according to

Fannie Mae recently surveyed approximately 1,000 individuals by telephone to get their thoughts on the state of the housing market. Fannie Mae uses responses from its National Housing Survey® (NHS) to create its Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI), which measures consumer satisfaction and concerns about the housing market.

The index measures, among other things, the percentage of consumers who think now is a good or bad time to buy or sell a home as well as their concerns and expectations re: home prices and mortgage rates.

The latest numbers, which reflect conditions in September, show that 66 percent of the respondents believe that now is a bad time to purchase a home. That’s a three percent increase from August. Just 28 percent of the respondents indicated they feel that now is a good time to buy.

Meanwhile, the number of respondents who indicated that now is a good time to sell a home increased from 73 to 74 percent, while just 19 percent of respondents felt the time is not right to sell.  When it comes to home prices, 37 percent of the respondents felt that the housing process will continue to rise in the next 12 months while 24 percent believe they will go down; 33 percent believe they will stay the same.

When the issue is mortgage rates, 8 percent of respondents felt they will go down over the next 12 months while 51 percent expect rates to rise.

Doug Duncan is Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist.

“Consumers feel it’s a bad time to buy a home,” he said, “but a good time to sell. And they continue to cite high home prices as the primary reason. Across all consumer segments, renters and younger consumers were slightly more likely to indicate it’s a bad time to buy, perhaps a reflection of their generally lower incomes and their observation that the availability of affordable homes is lacking. We’re also seeing a softening in consumers’ expectations that home prices will continue to increase. However, in our view, other housing market fundamentals remain supportive of further home price appreciation, including low levels of inventory and low interest rates.”

Wexler says a lack of inventory impacted the housing market for much of this year.

“But (the situation) has been improving in last few months,” he said.  “It’s been the main force behind higher home prices.”

Wexler notes the housing market is a seller’s market at present.

“It’s definitely a seller’s market with supply so low and homes selling fast due to high competition among buyers,” he said.

“Millennials and Generation Z members are influencing the housing market as well, as some older millennials may be ready to shift to a larger house, freeing up their starter homes for younger millennials and the older Generation Z members who want to purchase their first home.”

Wexler stresses the importance of potential home buyers being well informed.

“Talk to a good local lender or mortgage broker,” he said, “to be prequalified and understand what you can afford.”