Residential building on the rise

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Confidence in the housing market and the local economy are on the upswing in Denton County, as home builders in the area are the busiest they have been in years.

While the homes are not as lavish and extravagant as previous years, people are confident enough to build homes after holding off during an unstable economy, said Jeff Wawro, owner of Design Classics in Denton.

“In residential we specialize in some of the higher-end homes, and we’ve seen individuals ready to spend money again where they haven’t had the confidence to do so in the past,” Wawro said. “I wouldn’t say people are willing to spend freely and they’re still conscientious, but they’re frustrated with waiting as long as they have.”

From January to October this year, there were 2,315 building permits issued in Denton County for single-family homes, up 54.5 percent from the same period last year, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

The growth is to accommodate an incoming population and an increase of new jobs, which builders notice and see as business opportunities, said Phil Crone, executive director of the Dallas Builders Association.

“As a home builder, you see these things and you know homes are where jobs sleep at night,” he said. “They see the growth that’s happening and they are the industry to accommodate that.”

Local builders are picking up the pace as the months’ inventory of available homes have dropped steadily since July in the county, according to data from the Real Estate Center. With a lower inventory, builders will have to play catch-up through the winter — a traditionally slow season — and this could mean an increase of building over the next two years, Crone said.

“Until that supply increases, we aren’t going to really see things level off and that may not be for a couple of years, given the growth we’re anticipating,” he said.

The demand is apparent in Denton County, Wawro said. His business works closely with a real estate agent to help clients sell their current homes before moving into the new home and the turn around time now is quick.

“Many of our clients who have put their homes up for sale before they build a new one, have sold very, very quickly,” he said. “So much so, we’ve had to help some people find rent properties to live in while we build them new homes.”

Confidence in the market has spread nationwide, according to a survey of U.S. home builders by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released last week.

The sentiment index released Tuesday climbed to 58. That was up from 54 in November and matched an eight-year high reached in August. Readings above 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

In addition, builders’ view of current sales conditions jumped this month to the highest level in eight years. And their outlook for sales heading into next year’s spring home-selling season also improved.

The index has stayed above 50 now for seven straight months after being below that level since May 2006. This month’s reading is 11 points higher than a year ago. It reflects a U.S. housing market fueled by steady job growth and still-low mortgage rates.

The latest index suggests that builders remain optimistic that the housing recovery will endure even though mortgage rates have risen in recent months.

“The recent spike in mortgage interest rates has not deterred consumers as rates are still near historically low levels,” said David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist. “We continue to look for a gradual improvement in the housing recovery in the year ahead.”

This article contains material from The Associate Press.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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