Airman preferences surveyed

By Sharna Johnson:Freedom New Mexico

The majority of airmen who could call Cannon Air Force Base home in the future are married and have more than one child, and almost 30 percent plan to buy another home if they relocate to Cannon, according to a survey conducted to plan for a growing military community.

The survey queried 411 active-duty military members, mostly stationed at Hurlburt Field, Fla., about their status and preferences if they were relocated to Cannon. It is part of the Regional Growth Management Plan compiled by Albuquerque-based Keystone International Consultants.

At a Monday meeting, members of the Local Growth Management Committee and Local Growth Management Organization approved the plan and agreed to discuss and find ways to implement its recommendations.

Officials have said the base is expected to add 3,400 to 5,700 personnel by 2015.

More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they currently own a home, and nearly 30 percent said they would plan to purchase another home if reassigned to Cannon.

Another nearly 30 percent said they would live in base housing, while about 25 percent said they would rent. The remainder were undecided.

Of the choices for size of house, three bedrooms and two bathrooms was the most popular type, with 43 percent of respondents saying they wanted a three-bedroom house and 57 percent desiring two bathrooms.

For buying homes, the largest group, almost 39 percent, said their price range was up to $135,000. On rentals, just more than 34 percent of respondents said they wanted to rent at prices no higher than $750 a month.

The plan highlighted affordable housing as a concern, identifying an “unmet demand for housing priced in the $90,000-$135,000 range,” and a need for multi-family/rental housing in Clovis and Portales.

In 2007, the plan said, the average house was priced at $124,370 in Clovis and $91,609 in Portales. The plan also said despite the unprecedented downturn in the national housing market, average home sale prices in Clovis and Portales continue to rise, though sales volume is slightly lower and homes are on the market longer.

And rent in both areas ranged from $295 to $1,250 with no listings available in Portales at the time of the study.

The study also termed local housing as, “relatively old” and some of it, “not an attractive housing option” with units an average of 30 to 37 years old.

The prospect of growth in the community has attracted the interest of several developers, the study said, at least five of which have either begun or expressed plans to begin new developments.

Estimates indicate between 200 and 2,000 personnel will be affected by a gap in the housing market.

The plan recommends local officials create a housing task force to monitor market conditions and to assist in minimizing gaps in the market, to encourage development and to create annual tracking of housing trends with regular discussions between the base, developers and real estate agents.