Local homebuilding continues to rebound in November

RICH LADEN Updated: December 3, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 3, 2012

The pace of homebuilding in the Pikes Peak region reached a five-year high last month, as the housing market continued to rebound from years of recession-induced struggles.

Building permits for single-family homes — which are issued to local builders when they’re ready to construct homes and serve as a key measure of building activity — totaled 182 in November, a nearly 50 percent jump over the same month last year, according to a Pikes Peak Regional Building Department report released Monday.

For the first 11 months of the year, building permits totaled 2,065 — surpassing the 2,000-mark for the first time since 2,135 permits were issued in 2007.

After the economy nose-dived five years ago, annual building permit totals tumbled, falling to as low as 1,105 in 2009, Regional Building Department records show.

John Bissett, founder of JM Weston Homes and board president of the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, said historically low mortgage rates have prompted many buyers to purchase homes.

Not only are buying conditions favorable, but many of today’s buyers are existing homeowners who had sought to move up, but couldn’t get a fair price for their homes the past few years, Bissett said.

“There was a buyer pool that was qualified to purchase homes that made the decision to hold off until they felt that the market was going to improve or, at the very least, not decline any further,” Bissett said.

Now, many of those move-up buyers are seeing homes in the re-sale market selling relatively quickly, and prices are on the way up.

“That’s what’s pushing people into the new home market,” Bissett said. “They’re now able to get comfortable that they’re going to get the pricing they need to convert the home they’re living in and move into something different.”

Home construction remains a major component of the Pikes Peak region’s economy; it employs thousands of construction workers and members of building trades, while local governments rely on sales taxes collected on the purchase of building materials to help fund their annual budgets.

In addition to the positive report on housing, the area’s foreclosure picture brightened in November.

Foreclosure filings totaled 212 last month, the fewest in any month since 180 in December 2006, an El Paso County Public Trustee report showed Monday. A lender files a foreclosure notice against a property owner after several months of missed mortgage payments; the notice can lead to the loss of a property at a Public Trustee sale if the owner can’t catch up with payments or work out a deal with the lender.

Public Trustee Tom Mowle said the pool of homeowners holding non-traditional mortgages — whose interest rates were subject to sharp increases — has dwindled, leading to a reduction in the number of property owners finding themselves in financial trouble.

Through November, foreclosure filings for the year in El Paso County totaled 3,224 and are on pace to remain below the 2011 total of 3,603. While a year-over-year decline in filings is likely, this year’s total nevertheless remains historically high; in the mid-1990s, foreclosure filings totaled only several hundred a year.

Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen
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