The latest housing numbers from Lake and Sumter counties are a mixed bag. Which side of the housing transaction is taking place is going to determine if the market is good or bad. The general trend of improvement is continuing, but serious land mines exist, which could be problematic for longterm growth and stability. It appears the policies and direction of the new administration may not favor a robust housing market — time will tell.

Through September 2016, there were 3,483 new home permits issued for Lake and Sumter counties. Because there was a shift into Lake County by The Villages, permits were up 33.4 percent in Lake County while Sumter County incurred a decline of 38.6 percent. Overall, for the first nine months of 2016, housing permits were up 5.5 percent for these two counties. Nationally, in September, the adjusted annualized new home permits increased to 1,225,000 units, which is an increase of 8.5 percent from the previous year.

What the national permit numbers tell me compared to the local numbers is that it is an illusion to think we are living in a housing boom area. New housing permits issued by Lake and Sumter are underperforming the national numbers by 35.3 percent.

The other big numbers that affect housing are unemployment rates, population growth, and median home selling prices as compared to household income. According to the Orlando Realtors Association, the average median home selling price in Lake County is $193,919. Based on U.S. Census Bureau information, Lake County’s average median family income of $45,465 is $8,017 less than the rest of the nation. The unemployment rate in September was 4.8 percent in Lake County and 6.9 percent in Sumter County. The higher unemployment rate in Sumter County is probably indicative of the shift in The Villages housing. Most construction experts contend the workforce to support a huge increase in housing that does not currently exist.

One housing number that jumps out is the 372 multi-family permits issued in the last two years for Lake and Sumter. This could be the reason why housing rents are $30 more than the national average and the problem of homelessness appears to be on the rise locally.

So what do all of these housing numbers mean? My interpretation is that if you are a retiree moving to the area, life is good. The median home selling price is below the national average and there is market appreciation, which indicates that buying a home is a good investment. If you live in the area, the much lower median income probably means you can’t afford to buy a home and with higher rent more of your money is being allocated to housing.

High impact fees are discouraging the building of affordable homes and rentals, which is going to leave many families trapped in bad housing situations. The real numbers in housing and economic development indicate Lake and Sumter are actually underperforming. That should be a big concern to local government leaders because this area has an inherent advantage — it’s Florida.

Now for the “Who knows?” portion of this analysis. If the new President of the United States enacts his campaign promises, housing could face some darker days. First, a major push to build new infrastructure in America will have to be financed and the bond markets are indicating much higher interest rates. High interest rates will shove more people out of the housing market.

Foreign trade, especially in the areas of steel and imported wood, is the reason why prices for many building products are lower today. Ripped-up trade agreements and tariffs will jack up construction costs, making it much harder to build affordable housing.

Finally, building the wall sounds good, but construction across this country depends on Hispanic labor and the reality is that it has nothing to do with costs but rather availability. If construction loses most of its Hispanic workforce, projects could face massive delays.

Once again, who knows what is going to happen, but real challenges face housing.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Radio Show heard every Monday at noon on My790AM WLBE in Leesburg.