Crout is not a homebuilder, but a land developer. He said demand for build-ready lots is strong, especially since development slowed during the national housing crash and area homebuilding slump.
“There's really a definite shortage of lots. If you have lots, like I do, it's harvest time. I've never sold lots like this and I've been doing it for thirty-something years,” he said.
Prices on rise
Builders in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore and Norman collectively started the year ahead of 2012's earliest numbers. They took out permits in January to build 413 houses, a jump of 15.3 percent compared with January 2012.
Crout cautioned that rising costs for building materials are making new houses more expensive — although he said appraisers aren't yet factoring in price hikes. The lag is forcing builders to absorb price hikes on supplies, he said, since lenders won't underwrite loans for more than an appraisal.
But eventually, Crout said, homebuyers will pay for the effects of the rebounding national housing market, which is driving up prices for the raw materials that go into a house. And nationally, homebuilding still has a long way to go to be back to even historic pre-boom levels, he said, “so watch out” for rising house prices.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, forecast “meaningfully higher home prices” of about 15 percent in Oklahoma over the next three years.
Jobs will continue to be more important to the housing industry than mortgage interest rates as the state maintains stable growth, Yun said Feb. 6 at the Oklahoma Association of Realtors' Legislative & Economic Summit at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel.
Meanwhile, he said, lenders' tight credit standards are keeping renters from becoming homeowners. Also, investors-landlords keep gaining a bigger share of single-family homes in Oklahoma and across the country.