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North Texas new homebuilders picking up pace to meet customer demand

In a further sign that the new home-building market is rebounding, North Texas home builders started construction on 48.2 percent more homes in the fourth quarter of 2012, Dallas-based Residential Strategies reported Monday.

Builders started 4,549 new homes between October and December, a surge from the 3,068 new homes started in the same quarter of 2011. The homes mostly represented a backlog of orders as well as builders replacing speculative homes in the market, the firm said.

Moreover, builders started construction on 17,947 homes, a 28.4 percent increase over the number of homes started in 2011, or 13,975, the firm said.

"Normally, the fourth quarter is the slowest period of the year for new construction," said Ted Wilson, principal with Residential Strategies, in a news release. "This year was somewhat different. The strong sales pace builders reported during the summer and fall months put strains on the construction capacity for this market. The shortage of certain construction trades caused order backlogs to swell and pushed a large amount of start activity into the end of the year. Timing issues aside, most builders had a good year."

The number of closings increased 19.5 percent in the fourth quarter, to 4,479 closings in the fourth quarter last year from 3,748 closing in the fourth quarter of 2011. Most of the closings last year were in the $250,000 to $500,000 price range, Wilson said.

The area’s job growth and lower unemployment rates continue to help the local housing market, Wilson said. Mortgage rates also remain historically low, he said.

"During fourth quarter 2012, two important milestones were achieved on the employment front," Wilson said. "For the first time in its history, total employment in D-FW surpassed the 3 million level. But perhaps more noteworthy is the fact that D-FW has now made back all of the jobs lost during the economic downturn. Despite the more challenging builder conditions in certain geographies of the D-FW housing market, we increasingly see many submarkets going through a healing process."

_ Sandra Baker



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