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Housing Permits Flourish Where Building Regulations Don’t

Housing InventoryHome construction may be down overall, but it is picking up in parts of the South and Southwest, which tend to have “fewer costly and time-consuming building regulations,” according to Realtor.com. The Realtor.com research team identified the top 10 markets with the highest number of housing permits for single-family homes, condos and co-ops, apartments, townhomes, and duplexes.

Conducting their research based on pure number of permits means a couple large markets slipped into the rankings more as a result of market size than of market trend. For example, Los Angeles, California, and New York, New York, both made the top 10 despite both experiencing declines in housing permits over the year.

In fact, Los Angeles has experienced declines in housing permits for the past three years, and most of the new construction is high-end. Realtor.com pointed out that Southern California is also home to some of the “strictest building rules in the country.”

As for New York, in addition to having a large population, the metro’s housing growth is limited to a few key areas, including a 20,000-unit housing development near the Hudson River. Overall, new housing has been in a slump since the luxury condo market peaked in 2014.

As for those Southern and Southwestern markets with the highest number of housing permits in the past year, Dallas tops the list with 63,421 permits, a 2.8 percent increase from a year ago. With big companies flocking to Dallas and “builder-friendly laws and regulations,” Dallas continues to grow. Much of the metro’s new construction is in the $250,000 to $300,000 range.

Houston, Texas, followed Dallas in the No.2 spot with 57,021 housing permits, a notable 33.6 percent rise from a year earlier. However, it is important to note that some of this new construction can be attributed to rebuilds after Hurricane Harvey.

New York, an outlier, claimed the No. 3 spot on the list, followed by Atlanta, Georgia, where permits increased 19 percent up to 39,132. Even with this increase though, the researchers say, Atlanta continues to lack sufficient inventory.

Phoenix, Arizona, claimed the No. 5 spot with 31,343 permits, a 5.7 percent increase from a year ago. Phoenix is attracting more new residents than any other metro area in the nation, according to data from Realtor.com in December. However, the flock of new residents with cash in hand from the sale of their high-priced California homes is pushing up home prices in Phoenix and putting a damper on affordability.

The top 10 list was rounded out by Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C.

About Author: Krista Franks Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing industries since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.
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