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ABQ building permits jump in July

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Home construction surged in July in the Albuquerque metro area, although it wasn’t quite as strong as the building permit numbers would indicate.

Permits were issued for 174 single-family homes throughout the metro last month, a 26 percent jump from 138 in July 2013, according to the latest report from DataTraq. July’s 174 permits also were up 17 percent from the 149 permits issued in June.

July’s permit activity marked the second-best month for home construction in more than three years, behind only the 193 permits issued this past May, DataTraq has reported.

Frequently described as a bellwether of the local economy, homebuilding has been in the doldrums for six years or so since the housing bubble burst. The pace hit bottom in 2011 when 1,192 permits, or about 99 a month, were issued for the entire year.

This past July’s permit count got a boost from The Cottages of New Mexico, which is privately owned rental housing near the airport that caters to college students. DataTraq reports The Cottages, at 24 permits for single-family homes, was the metro’s busiest subdivision in July.

Opened only since mid-August, The Cottages has been in the news recently for public disturbances that have led to 23 calls for city emergency services.

Since The Cottages isn’t a conventional subdivision with single-family homes for sale, the permits issued for homes there don’t reflect buyer demand for new homes. Subtract The Cottages’ 24 permits, and July’s count drops to 150 permits, which is a moderate pace for home construction at this time of year.

The metro appears to be headed to the construction of about 1,500 new homes this year, roughly the same as for all of 2013. Observers of the housing market have said 3,500-4,500 new homes a year would be a normal pace for homebuilding in the metro.