DFW New Home Construction Up

By SANDRA BAKER

http://www.star-telegram.com/business/story/1668308.html/

The pace of new home building in Dallas-Fort Worth picked up the third quarter from the previous quarter, but is still down from last year’s level, according to the latest numbers released today by Dallas-based real estate research firm Residential Strategies.

DFW home builders started construction on 4,194 new homes between July and September, a 32 percent increase from the May-June period, but 790 fewer homes that were started a year ago.

Still, that’s much better than it has been. Since 2006, the year-to-year declines have been between 2,000 and 3,000 units, the firm said.

“This is a positive sign and perhaps a signal that the massive quarterly declines are coming to an end,” said Ted Wilson, partner with Residential Strategies. Wilson said he’s anticipating an uptick in the number in the fourth quarter or the first quarter of 2010.

One of the largest gains in the most recent quarter came in the category for homes under $200,000, likely the result of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit, home builders reported. The median new home price, though, slipped slightly to $204,031 in the third quarter, from $208,033 a year ago.

In Fort Worth, 1,660 finished new homes are available, which represents a 3-month supply. But when those are combined with unfinished homes, that number jumps to 3,691, the firm said.

The supply of vacant, developed lots DFW fell by 3,830 in the third quarter, to 88,592 from 92,422 a year ago. That indicates builders are making some headway in reducing inventory, Wilson said.

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