|Updated: 11/09/2012 9:48 pm
||Published: 11/09/2012 9:32 pm
For the past five years, lots sat across the Tulsa metro area empty, but in the past six months, there's been a big change. Across the region, more and more empty lots are seeing a lot of activity and sometimes construction starts when a builder doesn't even know who the buyer will be.
“There’s no doubt that in ’08, ‘09 the market softened on us for new construction,” Mark Jones with Terry Davis Homes told FOX23.
Jones and his company are finally back to doing what they do best, building homes. Not just homes for a specific family, instead workers are busy framing homes for no one in particular. Spec homes are new houses built purely on the speculation that someone will buy them.
”Any time you build a spec home in any market, there's risk involved, but right now we're seeing the market's loosened up we're seeing more people wanting to buy houses,” Jones said.
Spec homes are a huge reason why Tulsa’s new home construction is up around 30 percent this year.
”We've already had over 1,900 (home) starts in 2012 through the end of October, which is already more than we had in 2011 as a whole,” Jeffery Smith, Vice President of the Tulsa Homebuilders Association, said.
It's not just home builders who are hammering away; realtors are also seeing a surge in business.
”The problem over the last couple years was spec financing, and getting the money from the bank. Now, honestly, builders can't get spec homes done quickly enough,” Luke Strawn, Senior Vice President with McGraw, said.
New home sales are up 76 percent for McGraw Realtors in the Tulsa metro area. Many believe it's the surest sign yet that our region has weathered the worst of the economic downtown.
”I think the new construction has been a little bit of a surprise,” he said, “I don't think that anybody thought that it would happen this quickly.”
For builders like Jones, it is a surprise they have waited for since 2007.
If you’re thinking about selling your existing home, there’s good news there too. Sales of those are up 18 percent driven in part by people putting their homes on the market once they buy new construction.
Beyond sales numbers, there’s another benefit connected with the surge in home sales. When workers are laying the foundation for a new home, they're also laying a foundation to put people back to work.
”New construction is a big key to jobs,” Strawn said.
”The housing industry employees thousands of people in Tulsa metro, so it's great for the economy of Tulsa,” Smith told FOX23.
Through October, 1900 new homes have started being built in Tulsa. Industry stats say for every new home three and a half people are put to work, so just this year 6,650 people are working because of new home construction in Tulsa in the first ten months of 2012.
That number is 30 percent higher than in 2011. Local builders like Jones say the numbers don't lie.
”We have got our subcontractors prepared for more work; they will hire more people to keep up with us.”