Colorado Springs-area homebuilding got off to a strong start in January, picking up where it left off in 2016 when home construction soared to a 10-year high.
Single-family building permits issued in El Paso County totaled 207 last month, a 10.7 percent increase over January 2016, according to a report Wednesday by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.
Last month's single-family building permit total also was the highest for any January since 2006, Regional Building Department records show.
"A lot of good stuff going on with the local economy," said Mark Long, president and owner of Vanguard Homes and board president of the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs. "I'm not surprised at the increase. I would hope it would continue."
Monthly building permits are a closely watched measure of the local construction industry and the economy.
Home building companies and subcontractors employ thousands of people, who have been kept busy the last few years as the economy recovered from the Great Recession.
Colorado Springs and other local governments, meanwhile, also are affected by the pace of homebuilding. Sales tax revenues collected on the purchase of building materials, appliances and other home-related products help pay for basic government services such as public safety and parks.
In addition to the a rebounding local economy, falling mortgage rates have helped propel homebuilding.
Last week, mortgages averaged 4.19 percent nationally for 30-year, fixed-rate loans, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. Rates climbed above 4 percent in late 2016 after having been below that mark since mid-2015.
However, rates still remain on the low side, historically speaking, and the recent increase in borrowing costs doesn't seem to have deterred buyers.
Long and other housing industry members have said they expect home construction in 2017 to mirror last year's pace. Single-family home building permits totaled 3,237 last year, which was the most since 3,446 in 2006
"It's obviously early in the year, so we'll see how the rest of the year pans out," Long said. But, he added, January's numbers are "a nice way to get going."
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