Home sales and construction in the metro area grew most of 2013, boosted by the healthy local economy and the tragedy of May's tornadoes.
Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore and Norman together issued 5,438 single-family building permits, an increase of 16 percent compared with 2012, according to the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
Moore saw the greatest increase, 183 percent, owing to rebuilding from the May 20 tornado, and Midwest City had the only decrease, 29.8 percent. Norman was virtually flat with an increase of 0.2 percent.
Permits were up 9 percent in Oklahoma City, 6.9 percent in Edmond, the builders reported.
Edmond's record sales
Sales for the year have not been tallied for the metro area, but Edmond had a record-breaking year, said Brian Preston, an agent with RE/MAX Associates Realtors, 1900 E 15th St., Building 500.
Preston said the Edmond market, including Deer Creek, had more than $1 billion in sales for the first time: $1,067,494,151 for 4,149 home sales, topping the 2012 record of 3,790 by 9.4 percent.
“The last milestone was an easy one. The average sales price in Edmond jumped to $257,290. This is the first time we have been over the $250,000 mark. Last year we were only shy by $200,” Preston said. “2013 was a great year for Edmond Real Estate. To have three big milestones hit in one year is virtually unheard of. It may be a while before we break records on this level again.”
Moore is rebuilding
Moore issued 682 single-family building permits last year, almost three times the 241 issued in 2012, according to the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
“We're building on a lot of tornado sites for the owners, and we have quite a bit of production going into our subdivisions,” said builder-developer Marvin Haworth of Marvin Haworth Homes in Moore.
Haworth said about 30 percent of the homes he is building in The Willows addition at SW 34 and Telephone Road and in Seiter Farms at SE 38 and Sunnylane Road are for people who decided not to rebuild where the tornado destroyed their homes.
Tornado lots are selling at a premium, he said, due to a lack of lots ready for construction in Moore and south Oklahoma City.
Land development came to a near standstill during the housing slowdown. Later, developed lots were bought streets at a time as construction picked back up. Credit for land development as well as speculative homebuilding remains tight.
Haworth said the real obstacle is something more basic: People who own land that could be developed are sitting on it.
“You have these farmers who have lived their whole lives on their land and they're not going to sell it. Their kids are going to sell it,” he said. Meanwhile, the farmland continues to appreciate, he said, as developers lick their chops.
Or maybe the farmers' children won't sell. Haworth said one 160-acre parcel in Moore is owned by a woman who now lives out of the country, and has no plans to return here, but won't sell the land despite repeated offers by developers — because she promised her father she wouldn't.
Last year, while a successful one for housing as a whole, did not end with a bang. Construction and the pace of sales both slowed in the fourth quarter.
Realtors handled 1,384 sales in December, just 0.4 percent more than in December 2012, according to the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors.
The average December sales price was $168,576, just 0.8 percent higher than December 2012, and the median price was $144,500, an increase of 2.9 percent, the Realtors reported.
Construction slowed at the 16-day federal government shutdown Oct. 1-16, then harsh winter weather helped keep building from recovering its momentum, said Robert Crout, who was 2013 president of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association. Plus, interest rates ticked up and “probably pulled some people out of the market,” he said.