Housing in Oklahoma City is booming on the pressure of pent-up demand, according to builders and Realtors.
It's a welcome story and they're sticking to it, despite continued economic and political uncertainty, and lenders who are still keeping credit tight.
How else to explain the almost rollicking marketplace so far in 2012?
Homes sales in February were up 36 percent compared with February 2011, according to the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors.
Home starts in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore and Norman were up almost 40 percent through February compared with the first two months of last year, according to the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
“That's obviously very encouraging. Consumer confidence is much improved. We're starting to see the economy turn the corner,” said Kurt Dinnes, owner of Sun Custom Homes and president of the builders association.
Dinnes said speculative construction is showing back up, even though the construction credit freeze “certainly hasn't eased up any.”
Dinnes said builders aren't daring to build houses with no buyers lined up because lenders have suddenly decided to back such speculation again, but because builders are confident — because consumers seem more confident.
“People have been waiting a long time for some real positive signs. There's some pent-up desire to acquire some things they've denied themselves the past three or four years,” Dinnes said.
It all has builders, especially strong, stable ones with cash on hand, willing to meet the higher post-housing-bubble loan-to-value ratios required by lenders.
In other words, those with skin to put back in the game are doing so, bringing a higher-equity stake to their projects.