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Fortune is hammering Oklahoma City housing (in a good way)

by Richard Mize Published: July 28, 2012

With homebuilders in nearly full recovery and an apartment boom taking off, Oklahoma City is in a kind of catbird's seat for housing construction.

In the country as a whole, single-family woes are fueling the multifamily surge. Stubbornly persistent foreclosure rates, mortgage bankers' continued reluctance to lend to any but those with the very best credit and most stable employment history, as well as still-high unemployment in most places, have apartment investors investing in new product.

But here, a healthy local economy — enviable unemployment rates, population growth on the rise — has cautious and seasoned but willing single-family builders building again.

In the first half of the year, builders in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore and Norman started 1,633 houses — 31.5 percent more than the same period in 2011 — and have been steadily increasing construction since the bottom in 2009.

Where is the apartment demand?

The metro area has had foreclosures, too. While nowhere near the sky-high rates in other cities, foreclosures have turned homeowners into renters — at the same time tough mortgage underwriting standards are keeping people in rental property.

Another factor is creating demand for apartments here while not taking much away from demand for single-family housing: dilapidated apartment complexes dating to the 1970s and earlier.

The 1980s oil and real estate bust stopped apartment construction here for a decade until the late 1990s, so those older properties probably stayed in service longer than they might have otherwise.

CB Richard Ellis-Oklahoma brokers William T. Forrest and Eva M. Wills, in their midyear Oklahoma City Apartment Market Overview, estimated that up to 2,000 apartment units have deteriorated past the point of habitability since 2008 — they're gone from the marketplace.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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