The city received 31 single-family building permit requests in the first nine months of this year the most it has seen since the prebust year of 2007.
The amount of requests for this year are higher than the annual totals for 2008, 2009 and 2010, approaching the robust levels of 2007, said Greg Hoch, the citys director of planning and community development.
In 2007, the year-end total of requests for single-family building permits was 61, while the average number of permits in 2005 and 2006 were 55, Hoch said.
This does indicate local economic growth, a sign that things are recovering, Hoch said.
There is an increased population of single families in the market for new homes, which is breathing life into overall residential construction, Hoch said.
Local real estate firms also are seeing movement in that area.
The market in residential real estate has improved noticeably in the last year, said Don Ricedorff, broker associate at The Wells Group.
The demand for single-family homes in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range has increased in the last two calendar years, Ricedorff said.
Single-family developments such as homes built in Skyridge, Animas View Drive, Three Springs and the Tierra Group project on Metz Lane all within Durango city limits flourished during 2009, creating a visible need for new single-family homes, Ricedorff said.
The most recent statistics from the Durango Area Association of Realtors, which compared the first nine months of this year with the same period in the previous year, showed the median price for a Durango home $394,900 was up a little more than 4 percent, and the number of homes sold was up almost 10 percent.
Ricedorff said the market for single-family homes is in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range; he sees potential for further development in that area.
The increase in single-family building permits for the upcoming year will produce a higher inventory in the residential market, bringing Durango closer to a neutral economy, Ricedorff said,
A neutral economy will benefit both buyers and sellers in the residential market,. he said.
Neutral negotiations will aid both the buyer and seller in making transactions that are easy for the two parties involved, Ricedorff said.
The increase in the number of permits for residential single-family homes this year will lead to more construction of these types of properties, giving the buyer in the residential market more choices and more influence in negotiations.
Hoch said that the increase in permits is a good sign for the local economy, but the national economy is too unpredictable to assume that the trend will continue.
Local economist and Fort Lewis College professor Deborah Walker sees reasons for optimism in the permit increase.
Walker said several factors aid in an increase of permits within city limits: Either renters are buying again, builders are looking ahead or vacation homes are in their planning stages.
Either way, this is a good indicator, she said. There is still a lot of adjusting to do in the housing market nationally, but perhaps adjustment has happened here more quickly then elsewhere, Walker said.