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ABQ home building permits showing slow recovery

green home constructionALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The pace of home construction continued to show signs of a subdued recovery in the Albuquerque metro area during July, according to the latest building permit report from DataTraq.

Permits were issued for 138 new single-family homes throughout the metro, a 6 percent drop from 147 permits in July 2012. Given that the 6 percent drop equates to only nine new permits, the year-over-year decline is not too alarming.

“This slight downturn may simply be the result of the timing of the permits more than a trend reversal,” said Jim Folkman of the HBA, the home builders association in the metro. “If we have two or three months of reduced starts, then we may have reason for concern, but we’re still confident that this year will be a marked improvement over last year.”

Over the first seven months of the year, DataTraq numbers show home construction is up about 7 percent from 917 permits in 2012 to 984 this year.

While the pace of home construction is on the upswing, Albuquerque is still not among the 247 metros listed on the latest National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index. The index, using basic measures like home price appreciation and building permits, tracks housing markets around the country.

Home construction in the metro peaked in 2005, when 653 permits were issued during July of that year. It bottomed out in 2011, when a mere 75 permits were issued during July, according to DataTraq numbers.

The increased pace in home building has contributed to the improving construction employment sector, which the state reported grew by 1,400 jobs, or 7.4 percent, during the 12 months ending in July.

“There are 300 new jobs created for every 100 new homes built in any given year,” Folkman said.

Most observers attribute most of the gain in construction jobs in the metro to the health care industry.

For example, Presbyterian Healthcare Services alone is building a new corporate campus near Balloon Fiesta Park, as well as renovating older patient towers at its flagship hospital near Downtown.