April's housing statistics were outdated before the debris settled May 20, the day that Moore and south Oklahoma City got hit again by a massive twister.
Homebuilding was humming even before some 1,200 houses were destroyed and thousands more damaged. Friday's tornadoes caused even more damage to the housing stock.
Construction, based on the number of building permits issued, already was up 14.4 percent through April, compared with the same period in 2012, in Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Edmond, Moore and Norman, according to the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
Home sales across the metro area were up 13.7 percent in April compared with April last year, according to the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors.
The numbers have nowhere to go but up in the wake of tornadoes that have left large swathes of the metro area staggering.
‘Lost housing stock'
“We're right at strong, double-digit growth, and that's before the tornadoes,” said Mustang developer Robert Crout, president of the builders association. Now, he said, “We have lost housing stock.”
Insurance settlements already have checks in some people's hands — and some buyers already under contract for replacement houses. Before long, anything comparable to what was lost will be snatched up, he said.
“People are looking for a place to live right now,” Crout said. “They'll be sopping up the inventory all over town. They're just going to sop up that inventory.”
The Southwest Showcase of Homes couldn't have been timed any better, it turns out. The event, organized by the Moore Home Builders Association and Southwest Home Builders Association, has 29 new homes open free to the public from 1 to 7 p.m. through Sunday. None sustained damage.
The Southwest association's project home is by Huffman Construction at 3509 SW 126 Terrace in Oklahoma City's Rockport addition, southeast of SW 119 and Portland Avenue.
The Moore association's project home is by R&R Homes LLC at 1105 Dayton Lane in Moore's Rock Creek addition, off SE 4 between Bryant Avenue and Sunnylane Road.
Home shoppers, including people who lost homes in the storms, have been out looking at the showcase homes, said developer P.B. Odom III, a life director with the Southwest association. Information and locations of the other homes are available at the two project homes.
The rush to buy could be stymied if appraisals don't keep up with rising prices in the marketplace, said Keith Taggart, president of the Realtors group and managing broker for Coldwell Banker Select's office in Mustang.
Multiple offers will push up negotiated sales prices for some homes fast, he said, but lenders will balk if appraisers can't find comparable sales to justify the increases.
Step one for most people whose houses were left uninhabitable, if friends or relatives can't offer accommodations, is renting. Crout noted that a 192-unit apartment complex he finished in April 1999, less than a month before the May 3 devastation, filled up in a week.
“Builders will respond and start building more inventory,” Crout said, and some will be busy with repairs and remodeling. Homeowners with damage to fairly recently purchased homes, he said, naturally call their builder to repair storm damage.
In the meantime, he said, people are plotting their moves. He said student requests to transfer to Mustang schools this fall, at least temporarily, have increased greatly since the damage in Moore.
Builder ethics eyed
Established builders — especially those who weathered the recession and housing slump — are doing what they can to warn people against fly-by-night builders and questionable ethics by any builder, Crout said.
“Our association will not stand for — I'm talking more and more and louder and louder — we're not going to stand for anybody doing anything illegal or immoral,” he said, noting that the grievance committee is well-oiled at the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
Customer complaints against member builders are taken seriously, he said.
“We have a good name. We want to be the trusted resource that people go to,” he said.
New members of the association “have to be approved,” Crout said. “You have to meet our requirements, plus the executive committee and the board have to approve. We're not easy. It's not a matter of someone getting to join. It's something you make an application for: membership.”
People are looking for a place to live right now. They'll be sopping up the inventory all over town. They're just going to sop up that inventory.”
President of the builders