I was struck by the news released by the federal government this past Friday that housing construction has "plunged" to the lowest level in nearly a decade. The Associated Press reported that applications for new building permits fell in January for the 11th month out of the past 12, and that housing construction was down 11.8 percent in the South.
The Associated Press also reported that the National Association of Realtors said that sales of existing homes fell in the 40 states in the fourth quarter of 2006 and home prices dropped in 49 percent of the metropolitan areas surveyed, the widest price decline in the history of the Realtors' survey.
Apparently, the housing industry is in a slump I tell you, a slump. If you are thinking to yourself, hmmm, it sure doesn't seem that way here in Bulloch County, you would be right.
From January 1 through February 15 of this year, Bulloch County has issued a whopping 189 construction permits for single family, "stick built" residences out in the county. By the end of this February, it is expected that over 200 building permits will have been issued for the first two months of this year. Keep in mind that these numbers do not include mobile home set-ups or apartment buildings – strictly houses.
If permit issuance and subsequent construction of what has been permitted were to continue at this pace throughout 2007, that would mean another 1,200 homes built or under construction in this county. That would be more than double the rate of any other year in the past.
Let me put these numbers into context. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Building Permits Survey, in January and February 2006, there were a total of 263 building permits issued in unincorporated Chatham County for single family construction. We are on track to issue 200 for unincorporated Bulloch County in the first two months of 2007 during a supposed countrywide "slump."
For the first two months of 2006, records indicate that Bulloch County issued 91 building permits. Again, we are on a pace to more than double that figure. So where are all of these houses being built?
In addition to existing developments, there are six new subdivisions coming on line in the county. They are Arlington Farms, Beaumont Phase II, The Hammocks, Spenway, Southern Point, and Westway. There are also seven new developments working their way through the approval process.
The burning question becomes where are all of the people coming from who are buying these houses? There seems to be a sense that a lot of our new neighbors are relocating from Florida. I don't know that, but I intend to do a little investigating and will let you know.
Until next week, I bid adieu.
Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org