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ABQ home construction falls flat

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Homes under construction at the Mirehaven Subdivision by Del Webb. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Flat is the new black in the Albuquerque new housing market.

The number of home building permits issued last month for the Albuquerque-area increased nearly 10 percent — from 131 in May to 144 in June.  While that was a slight rise, June’s numbers were not as good when compared to the same month last year, when 184 home building permits were issued, according to data obtained through the Albuquerque New Housing Market Letter, a monthly publication by DataTraq.

Building permits for single-family homes, an indicator of future construction, have totaled 832 so far this year, according to DataTraq. Nearly 1,800 new-home permits were pulled last year in the metro; the number for 2015 was 1,645.

The numbers show home building activity in the Albuquerque metro area — which includes the city, Rio Rancho, Los Lunas and the unincorporated Bernalillo County —  is “just flat,” said John Garcia, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico.

“It could be better,” said Garcia.

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He said HBA members are staying busy on other fronts: sub-contracting on some of the new apartment projects rising in town, handling remodeling jobs and moving into commercial construction.

That scenario is unlikely to change anytime soon — not until the economy improves to a level that stimulates the kind of residential construction that resulted in 4,000 permitted homes each year in the 1990s, according to Garcia.

He’s hopeful permit activity will pick up later in the year. “Fourth-quarter peformance” has been the best period in the last two years, said Garcia.

The report said Pulte Group pulled the most permits in June (42), followed by LGI Homes (12).  Most of the permits are in subdivisions that will see new construction. Northwest Albuquerque and Rio Rancho combined took up 74 percent of the permits issued last month. Sixty percent of the permits were for homes in the $150,000 to $250,000 price range.

Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

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