Oklahoma City homebuilders are acting like it's 2002
Oklahoma City homebuilders are doing the time warp again.
The time slip is a bit of a mind trip: It's 2002 all over again in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore and Norman, at least collectively.
Combined, the cities issued 1,945 single-family building permits through May, comparable to the 1,940 permits issued through May 2002, which was the beginning of the buildup to the boom. Now, with the bottom of the bust, at least locally, three years in the past, builders are building up again.
“We thought demand was high last year, but in hindsight, it was only a ramp up to what we're seeing now,” said Oklahoma City builder Jeff Click, vice president/treasurer of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association.
Builders here returned to speculative building — that is, building houses without buyers lined up — just this year. Click, though, said he hasn't had time to build houses without buyers because he's so busy building houses under contract.
“I'm going on 15 years as a builder and I don't believe we've ever been this busy,” he said. “For the first time in six years, I've actually had to watch my credit line and seek more construction funding with my bank, which fortunately they've provided given that nearly every one of our new starts is sold.
“Spec? I almost forgot I had that word in my vocabulary. Aside from our Parade (of Homes) home, we don't have time for specs right now. Demand is too strong with our custom homes, we have zero completed inventory, and are having to wedge time in our build schedule to get a few specs started.”
Demand is on the rise, Click said, despite the increasing difficulty in getting home loans underwritten.
“It has definitely become harder to get homes closed these days. It's not so much the lenders as it is the underwriters' requirements and attention to every detail. They're really dotting their i's and crossing their t's even more than they have in the past, he said.
The increase in homebuilding is not uniform across the five cities, according to statistics compiled by the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.