The pace of homebuilding slowed again last month in the Colorado Springs area, although some builders say they're not worried that they're headed for another construction downturn.
A Pikes Peak Regional Building Department report released Monday showed that single-family building permits totaled 148 in November, down nearly 19 percent from the same month last year. It's the fourth consecutive month that single-family permit totals have fallen on a year-over-year basis.
Still, for the first 11 months of the year, single-family permits totaled 2,515, a 22.2 percent increase over the same period in 2012. Also, year-to-date permits already have surpassed last year's total and are on pace for their highest annual tally since 2006.
Permits issued for the rebuilding of homes as a result of the Waldo Canyon fire in 2012 and this year's Black Forest fire have accounted for roughly 9 percent of this year's total.
Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Communities and new board president of the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, said many builders saw a buyer slowdown after mortgage rates inched up a few months ago. Thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages that had averaged as low as 3.34 percent nationally early this year began climbing in late June, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Last week, long-term rates averaged 4.29 percent nationally.
"Traffic went down when the interest rates went up," Loidolt said. "It was no surprise. Everybody's watching it, but there's no real panic."
In fact, Loidolt said he and other builders are looking for 2014 to be similar to 2013 - a slight gain in homebuilding activity as the local and national economies continue to improve.
Homebuilding is a key part of the local economy; thousands of people - from carpenters to drywallers to plumbers - work in the industry. Also, local governments collect sales taxes on the purchase of lumber, drywall and other building materials, and use that money to fund public safety, parks and other services.
When the local and national recessions hit in recent years, the homebuilding industry limped through layoffs and reduced numbers of new homes. Annual permits dropped to as low as 1,105 in 2009 before rebounding.
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