Oklahoma City and Edmond keep driving recovery in homebuilding, and strong sales across the area seem to be keeping inventory from getting ahead of construction.
Oklahoma City issued 1,094 single-family building permits through April, up 32 percent from the first four months of 2011, according to the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
Edmond's smaller numbers made for a much larger statistical gain: The 184 permits issued through April was a 72 percent increase compared with the same period last year.
Oklahoma City's increase alone more than made up for decreases of 8 percent in Midwest City, 16.8 percent in Moore and 12.3 percent in Norman. Those suburbs' smaller numbers also create large statistical losses; combined, the decreases compared with the first third of last year amounted to just 36 permits.
Oklahoma City issued 306 more permits through April — 8.5 times the minor decreases in Midwest City, Moore and Norman.
The supply of homes for sale stood at 5.5 months on April 30, according to The Oklahoman's estimate using statistics from the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors. That level of inventory is considered a healthy market.
In other words, at the average monthly sales pace for the past year of 1,374.5 homes, it would take 5.5 months to sell the 7,614 listings at the end of April. The estimate does not include houses offered for sale directly by owners or builders not using a Realtor.
Nationally, the number of homes for sale hit a 6.6-month supply, down from 9.1 months a year ago, the National Association of Realtors reported.
“People are taking advantage of low interest rates,” said Kurt Dinnes, owner of Sun Custom Homes and president of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association. “It could also be pent-up demand — people who've put things off for a few years and are getting back in the game.”
In April, the average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage in central Oklahoma was 4.1 percent, the Realtors said. This week, Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey logged the national average at 3.78 percent.
Dinnes said improved confidence in the economy has builders constructing houses again on a speculative basis — that is, without a buyer lined up — and has homebuyers again contracting for custom homes.
The Realtors reported 1,548 houses sold in April, up 9.6 percent compared with April last year, for a combined $245.3 million, an increase of 12.1 percent.
The average price was $158,474, up 2.4 percent, and houses sold in 84 days on average, almost two weeks faster than in April a year ago, according to the Realtors.
“Good stats again this month — everything up except new listings and inventory,” said Lorna Koeninger, president of the metro Realtors and an agent with Paradigm AdvantEdge Real Estate. “Homebuilders are scrambling to build and new developments are opening citywide.”
The main negative, she said, has to do with financing itself, not loan rates.
“Tight lending still creates challenges for the homebuyer wanting to purchase an affordable home versus rental,” Koeninger said.