Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Business

Home starts up 62 percent in Hernando during first months of 2014

SPRING HILL — While no one would dare call it a boom, an upswing in single-family home construction this year in Hernando County is bringing encouraging news to those who have been hoping for any sign that the industry might one day get back to normal.

According to county building records, 102 permits for single-family homes were pulled between January and April of this year. That's a 62 percent increase over the same four-month period in 2013, and a marked increase in the pace that in 2011 saw just 124 home permits pulled for the entire year.

While local housing experts say a combination of factors is at work, most agree that the uptick seems to reflect a pent-up demand for nicer homes, which have become more scarce as the real estate market has improved.

The homes are being built in locations across the county.

Alexander Custom Homes owner Mark Alexander said that eight of the nine homes currently under construction by his company cost $300,000 or more, a significant trend that he hasn't seen in several years.

"Buyers of homes in that range all but disappeared after the economy collapsed," Alexander said. "Now, the pendulum is swinging back, and it's good to see."

No one believes that home construction will return to the record levels seen during the mid 2000s. Buyers and lenders are much more wary now, said Brenda McDaniel, executive officer of the Hernando Builders Association. But she remains cautiously optimistic that the construction industry is marching forward again.

"With interest rates and impact fees remaining low for now, it makes sense for people who were thinking about building to start acting," McDaniel said. "A year or two from now, it might be a totally different scenario."

Indeed, the big winners so far have been national builders such as Pulte Homes, Adams Homes, Artistic Homes and others, which typically build in the $150,000 to $250,000 range.

Many of their customers are Northern transplants who have managed to sell their former homes as the economy has strengthened.

John Roberts with Adams Homes of Northwest Florida said his company has sold 10 houses in Hernando this year, and seven more permits are in the approval process. Like many others, he believes Hernando's housing market is poised to bounce slowly back to health, with moderately priced homes leading the way.

"New homes are becoming more attractive to today's buyers partly due to the low interest rates," Roberts said. "Buyers can afford more in a brand new home today than in years past."

Homes with modern features such as energy-efficient kitchens, tile and wood flooring are big sellers, especially if they are in neighborhoods with amenities.

Still, some builders say, because of financing issues, there remains a tentativeness among many prospective buyers. Since the collapse of the economy, even well-heeled clients have been forced to put more money up front than was traditionally needed previously.

Alexander, who has been building homes in Hernando for four decades, said the new ball game has been difficult to learn.

"For several years, banks weren't willing to take any risks whatsoever," he said. "Cash was king, and still is to a degree. The days of buying more than you can comfortably afford are long gone."

However, a continued easing of restrictions by lenders is gradually allowing more people to enter the new-home picture.

"A good credit rating can now get you a home loan with anywhere between 20 and 30 percent equity," Alexander said. "But those numbers are going to keep coming down as more lenders enter the picture. And that will be good for the marketplace."

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

Comments
Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

LAND O’LAKES – A Sarasota developer is proposing to turn a vacant Winn-Dixie store in central Pasco into a Sprouts Farmers Market.Benderson Development filed preliminary plans Monday with Pasco County to redevelop the former Winn-Dixie store at the n...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Clearwater’s Clegg Insurance Group buys Advanced Insurance Brokerage

Clearwater’s Clegg Insurance Group buys Advanced Insurance Brokerage

CLEARWATER - Clegg Insurance Group of Clearwater announced on Wednesday it has bought Brandon-based Advanced Insurance Brokerage.The merger creates a firm with more than 2,000 customers and more than $10 million in annual premiums. Terms were not dis...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

FILIPINO FOOD: WELCOME CHISMISHave you been to the Heights Public Market at the 73,000-square-foot Armature Works yet? It’s the buzzy food market in Tampa Heights with more than a dozen vendors offering up everything from rolled ice cream to Cuban sa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

Citizens considers hiking homeowners insurance rates about 8 percent

Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s is weighing another round of hefty rate hikes.Staffers with the state-run insurer of last resort have proposed raising the average rates for homeowners by 7.9 percent — just under the legislative cap of 10 percent ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay homes sales while prices keep rising

A tight supply cuts into Tampa Bay homes sales while prices keep rising

Tampa Bay’s two largest counties showed anemic home sales in May as prices continued to rise due to a tight supply.In Pinellas, sales of single-family home plunged nearly 12 percent from the previous May, the second-worst showing in a year. Prices, t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pinellas County files suit against companies who built Public Safety Complex

Pinellas County files suit against companies who built Public Safety Complex

CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Public Safety Complex was built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, but officials now say the $81 million fortress has water leaks and cracked walls.The county filed a lawsuit this month against Harvard Jolly, the S...
Updated: 3 hours ago
CEOs are calling the separation of children and families at the border ‘inhumane’ and ‘tragic’

CEOs are calling the separation of children and families at the border ‘inhumane’ and ‘tragic’

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have spoken out about the Trump administration’s hard-line "zero-tolerance" immigration policy that has resulted in a sharp rise in children separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border. The president o...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Demolition looms for old Bromley office building at Midtown Tampa

Demolition looms for old Bromley office building at Midtown Tampa

TAMPA — Over the past month, demolition crews have gutted the old five-story Bromley office building at the future site of the $500 million Midtown Tampa project.On Sunday, the remaining skeleton of the building is scheduled to come down.The demoliti...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didn’t help. Tariffs played a big role, too. Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs las...
Updated: 7 hours ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didn’t help. Tariffs played a big role, too. Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs las...
Updated: 7 hours ago