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Home permits soar

Highlights:

  • HBA of Metro Denver releases year-end report
  • Single-family, detached home activity up 23%
  • Townhomes activity up even more.

 

This 5-bedroom, 4-bath home with 3,160 square feet in Golden is priced at $595,000.

This 5-bedroom, 4-bath home with 3,160 square feet in Golden is priced at $595,000.

 

Denver-area home builders churned our new homes as fast as they could in 2013, but it wasn’t enough to meet demand.

Last year, builders pulled permits for 6,671 single-family detached homes, a 23.4 percent jump from the 5,407 in 2012, according to a report released Wednesday by the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver.

Builders also pulled 1,278 permits for townhomes, a 39.2 percent increase from the 918 in 2012.

“Together, we saw about a 30 percent increase,” said Jeff Whiton, CEO of the HBA of Metro Denver. The report includes the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Elbert and Jefferson, as well as all of the communities in each county. Permits indicate future construction activity.

Last year, builders didn’t have enough subdivisions with lots ready to build on to meet the demand, Whiton said.

“We ran through our existing supply of finished lots pretty early last year and builders just couldn’t get enough new ones on line quick enough to meet demand from consumers,” Whiton said.

“I really think that was the major headwind on our industry last year,” Whiton said.

With fewer resale homes on the market than a year ago, builders probably won’t be able to build new homes fast enough to fill the void, he said.

“It doesn’t look like it,” Whiton said.

However, he said he still expects a similar percentage jump in activity in 2014 from 2013, as there was last year from 2012.

In addition to a shortage of lots, the home building industry is suffering from a shortage of workers.

“That is a long-term problem,” Whiton said. “Being a craftsman is a noble trade. We need to convince our up-and-coming generation that being an electrician or being a plumber or being a carpenter is a good thing. Over time, these trades traditionally pay very well.” Another long-term issue builders will continue to grapple with will be rising commodity prices such as lumber, drywall and concrete.

“There is upward pressure on all of the material used in building a house,” Whiton said. “Rising costs for material and labor eventually are going to flow back to the consumer.”

However, builders increasingly are finding cost-effective ways to build more energy-efficient and sustainable houses, which will lower utility costs for consumers while being better for the environment, he said.

“I think you would find that there is a green revolution going on with construction techniques,” Whiton said. “A home built 10 years ago probably had a HERS score of 130, while now it is probably 65.” The lower the HERS score, the more energy-efficient the house is.

Many consumers appear to prefer a new, energy-efficient home over an older resale home that uses more electricity and gas, Whiton said.

“I think that is a reason why that more consumers appear to want a new home, instead of a resale home,” Whiton said.

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Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at  JRCHOOK@gmail.com. InsideRealEstateNews.com is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.