The pace of local homebuilding for the first few months of 2014 continues to lag behind last year, according to a report Thursday by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.
Single-family building permits, which measure the number of homes to be constructed by builders, totaled 257 in April, a nearly 15 percent drop from the same month last year, the report showed. Permit totals have declined in seven of the last nine months on a year-over-year basis.
For the first four months of this year, building permits totaled 823, an 11.2 percent decline from the same period in 2013.
"It is off a little bit, but it's not dramatic," said Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Communities and this year's board president of the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs. "But it's not dramatic. Nobody is pushing the panic button."
Based on what Classic is seeing and comments he's heard from industry colleagues, homebuying traffic remains strong, while sales are fine, Loidolt said.
The slower homebuilding pace comes on the heels of a turnaround for the industry, which had been hit hard during the recession. In 2013, building permits climbed to their highest level in seven years.
But some homebuilders have pointed to a rise in mortgage rates for a slowdown in buying, selling and construction. Nationally, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.29 percent last week, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday. A year ago at this time, rates were about 1 percentage point lower.
Also, Loidolt said, the Pikes Peak region needs stronger job growth to propel consumer confidence and the homebuilding industry.
Homebuilding is a vital part of the area's economy. The industry employs thousands of people - framers, drywallers, plumbers, electricians and the like - and their wages help create economic activity. Likewise, the purchase of building materials pumps millions each year into the coffers of local governments, which use the money to fund public safety, parks, roads and other services.
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