Builders race to keep up with surging U.S. home demand

Builders Frustrated

Still, builders are frustrated by obstacles including limited access to capital, said David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders in Washington. Land, labor, and materials also are in short supply, reflecting difficulties in recouping capacity that was slashed during the recession.

“The constraints will gradually work themselves out,” he said.

Starts on single-family homes will rise about 25% this year, about the same as in 2012, Crowe estimates. That means builders will break ground on 150,000 more houses this year than they did in 2012. Given that each new house built creates three jobs, this year’s projected gain would generate 450,000 additional positions in housing and the rest of the economy, he said.

Land Grab

Signs that the rebound is here to stay encouraged MBK Homes in June to purchase four parcels of land to expand in southern California, its first real estate acquisition since 2008.

“Unquestionably, things are picking up compared to even six months ago, and certainly compared with a year ago,” said Tim Kane, president of MBK, which is financed by the U.S. real- estate development unit of Tokyo-based Mitsui & Co. Ltd. “All price ranges are seeing demand. For the next few years, it’s going to be a lot of building activity.”

More buyers are returning to the new-home market as large pools of investors buying existing homes have depleted already- low supplies of houses, said Jay Moss, chief marketing officer of Woodside Homes in Salt Lake City, Utah.

California, Arizona and Nevada are “extremely hot” markets, he said. In many cases, “we have sold most of the homes before we’ve started,” Moss said. Woodside expanded staff in the past year, and “now that we’re getting busier, we need more people.”

The company will deliver all 59 houses in its Bella Brisas development in Rancho Cordova near Sacramento, California, instead of the 48 originally scheduled for this year, Moss said.

“We have ramped up production,” he said. “We didn’t think sales would be so strong.”

Back in Texas, Chamberlain is talking with several prospective buyers and he says he’ll have enough work for the next year or two as he finishes up some of the contracts in hand and breaks ground on others.

“There is more demand than houses to go around” in the Rockwall market, especially in the $250,000 plus-range, said Chamberlain, who is also president of the Dallas Builders Association. Developers of multifamily units are “also swamped. Across the entire spectrum, it’s just busy, busy for everyone.”

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