It’s a new year and home building industry experts say it could be a good one for the Phoenix West Valley housing market. In November, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that nationwide homebuilding had reached a four-year high. Construction of new homes rose 3.6 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000. It is the highest rate of new home construction since July 2008, and a sign that industry experts say is proof the once-beleaguered housing market is recovering. For West Valley residents, that could mean empty dirt lots will soon be filled with rows of stucco houses as areas such as Avondale, Buckeye and Goodyear begin to grow again.
Buckeye, AZ New Home Market starting to turn… Larry Harmer, Buckeye’s planning and zoning manager stated that between January and October 2012, 606 single family housing permits were isued. That’s an increase over last year when only 507 permits were issued. New home construction in Buckeye reached its recession-era low in 2010, when 381 single-family permits were issued, down nearly 100 from the previous year. Contrast that with 2008, when the town saw 1,503 new home builds, or 2007 when housing starts numbered 2,891.
Currently, there are 22 master-planned communities in Buckeye, and nearly 400,000 single-family units have been approved, town officials report. “In just six of those developments, more than a quarter million homes are planned, as well as 71 elementary schools, 13 high schools and more than 4,500 areas of commercial, retail and employment development,” Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck said in a message posted on the town’s website.
Goodyear, AZ is another West Valley city with a real estate market on the mend. Between 2000 and 2006, Goodyear was the fourth fastest-growing suburb in the country (among cities with a population less than 100,000). While growth has slowed tremendously in recent years, “it definitely looks like it’s recovering,” said Harry Paxton, Goodyear’s economic development manager. For the first 10 months of 2012, Goodyear issued 832 single-family housing permits. That’s up from the previous four years, when the city was issuing between 500 and 600 permits a year. Growth in Goodyear reached its pinnacle in 2005, when the city saw 2,758 housing starts. New home construction dropped to 1,802 in 2006 and then to 1,103 the year after. With distressed sales, such as foreclosures, being cleared out of the market and existing housing costs rising, new homes are able to compete, he said. With the number of single-family housing permits increasing, especially in the past six months, “It certainly looks like we’re on our way to recovery,” he said.
Avondale, the Southwest Valley’s most populated municipality with 77,000 people, the real estate market recovery hasn’t been so swift. In 2012, the city issued just two new single-family housing permits, both of which were for custom homes. “It surprises me and saddens me as well … [but] it looks like that picture is going to be quite different in 2013,” Chief Building Official Randal Westacott said.
Planning Manager Tracy Stevens told the View that the city has three potential residential projects in the works. “The first one is called Santo Villagio, and it’s a proposed project we’re working on the rezoning application right now,” Stevens said.
The 43-lot, single-family subdivision is planned for 11 acres at the northwest corner of Avondale and Encanto boulevards. “We’ve also been working closely with Avalon Estates by Elliott Homes” at the northwest corner of 107th Avenue and Thomas Road, Stevens said. “And then we are working with Lenar Homes to finish out the Desert Springs subdivision on Van Buren [Street].” Because the projects have yet to be formally approved, the city hasn’t received a construction schedule from the builders, she said.
New home construction peaked in Avondale in 2004, when the city issued 2,243 single-family permits. But the housing slump hit Avondale hard. Construction started to slow in 2005 with 1,469 housing starts. That number would drop to 924 in 2006 and to 698 in 2007. In 2008, Avondale issued a total of 160 single-family housing permits, and another 110 the following year. Throughout 2010, only 59 new homes were constructed in Avondale. The next year, that number plummeted even further to 23.
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