The situation in Oklahoma City contrasts with what metro-area builders heard this week at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas. The show is the largest annual convention of homebuilders, suppliers and service providers.
“What I've heard at the convention is not the same at all,” Crout said. “A lot of the things I've heard are, ‘Well, it's not getting worse as fast,' and a few are saying, ‘Well, we've bottomed out.' Some say they're seeing some uptick.”
Dinnes, also at the show, said he found the mood mixed among builders.
“Most parts of the country are showing positive signs with respect to new housing starts. Most (homebuilders associations) and (the National Association of Home Builders) are recognizing that the homebuilding downturn has turned the corner and there is cautious optimism by most. Once again Oklahoma as a whole, especially Oklahoma City, remains one of the leaders in the homebuilding recovery around the nation.”
Shoemaker said he heard some consumer research at the show that frames housing's near future.
“Eighty percent of people think it's a good time to buy a home — but a large portion of first-time buyers are not confident that they can afford a home. So, ‘Yes, it's a good time to buy, but I'm not sure I can.' That's something to watch. Looks like buyer education will become a bigger part of the sales process with first-time buyers,” he said.
Shoemaker said Ideal Homes, one of the biggest builders in the Oklahoma City area, has been trying to woo buyers with details. He pointed to Ideal's Red Canyon Ranch in Norman and Valencia in northwest Oklahoma City, the builder's top-selling neighborhoods, as examples.
“Our biggest change has been the level of customization we are providing buyers. We've revamped our entire product development and design center process to accommodate buyer expectations,” he said. “We've also placed a huge emphasis on our neighborhood development and amenities. People decide where they want to live before they decide what they want to live in. So we're incorporating a lot open space, parks, splash pads and so on.”