January 19, 2006
Still boom times for Houston homebuilders

Housing slowdown? Not in Houston.

There were about 48,000 housing starts in the Houston area last year, up 18 percent from 2004, according to consulting firm Metrostudy. New-home sales haven't been tallied yet, but they typically follow the number of starts.

"We've enjoyed a wonderful ride in the home building business, and it's not over yet," Mike Inselmann, president of Metrostudy, said at the annual Greater Houston Builders Association luncheon on Monday.

Still, rising interest rates could pull down home sales slightly this year. But even if mortgage rates reach 7 percent, Inselmann said, it wouldn't be that hard on the housing market.

"I think we can sell a lot of homes at that level," said Inselmann, predicting about 45,000 home starts for 2006.

Most of this construction is out in the burbs, but I continue to see empty spaces get filled in inside the Loop, both for townhome projects and standalone houses. I'm always interested in why a particular piece of land is being developed and not some other one. I just saw a sign that a property on Heights just south of I-10 is about to be under construction. It's got the bayou right next to it to make every heavy rain an adventure, I-10 right next to that, and a railroad track a little ways south whose trains I can hear at night inside my house a mile farther away. But hey, it's minutes from downtown and depending on how you define it within the Heights. I don't doubt that whatever goes up there will sell for $250K or more. I just wonder what drove the buy and sell decisions for that particular parcel.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 19, 2006 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack