Home builder confidence up as permits rise

sjones@thesunnews.comJune 27, 2014 

Homes under construction in The Market Common. All you have to do is ride through any unfinished subdivision in Horry County and you can see why area home builders are feeling more confident about their future than they were last year at this time.

STEVE JESSMORE — The Sun News file photo Buy Photo

All you have to do is ride through any unfinished subdivision in Horry County and you can see why area home builders are feeling more confident about their future than they were last year at this time.

In many places, too, it’s not one isolated home under construction, but rather multiple homes in the same development.

Consider the statistics from Horry County.

In May, the county issued 221 residential building permits versus 186 in May 2013, an jump of 19 percent. The revenue the county got from those permits rose 21 percent to $225,312.

The county doesn’t individually report the value of one construction segment, and the value of all construction permitted during the month dropped by 14 percent.

The drop, though, undoubtedly was a reflection of a 77 percent drop in commercial construction permits.

In Myrtle Beach, according to figures from the city, the number of residential construction permits went from 33 to 38 from May 3013 to May 2014, with the total value of the construction more than $3 million more this May than last.

Builders nationwide are feeling good as well, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Home Builders.

It said that builders confidence in the market for newly-built, single-family homes rose four points in June to reach a level of 49 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

That’s one point shy of the threshold for the number considered to signal healthy conditions.

Horry County builders attitudes reflect those nationally, said Fred Coyne, owner of Westbridge Homes and chairman of the Horry Georgetown Home Builders Association’s Professional Remodelers Council.

He estimated that his business is up between 40 percent and 60 percent in the last year. Consumer confidence has shifted from the paralysis of just a couple years ago to people feeling good about home buying.

He said that 40 additional permits issued by Horry County last month is a significant increase.

He likened the home building situation now to arriving early at a restaurant for a Sunday lunch. There are plenty of empty seats until church services end.

Then, Coyne said, “You sort of look around and go wow. I‘m glad I got here when I did.”

But the turnaround comes with a new set of problems.

Coyne said builders, subcontractors and suppliers all shrunk in size and workforce during the recession. Now that building is showing significant activity, Coyne said that getting building supplies and subcontractors in a timely fashion can be challenging.

Coyne said he’s confident that home building will continue on a positive trend, assuming the cost of materials and interest rates don’t rise too high.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765 or on Twitter @TSN_sjones.

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