Residential building surged in Durango and La Plata County in 2013 as builders rushed to make up for years of inactivity that drove down inventories.
In Durango, new single-family building permits totaled 62 in 2013, up 69 percent from 35 in 2012. It was the most permits issued in the city of Durango since 2006.
“The clients are back in the market looking for homes, and with the inventory of homes in the market being so low, it’s really spurred the building industry,” said Steve Martin, president of the Home Builders Association of Southwest Colorado and owner of Edgewood Construction in Durango.
The same trend held true in outlying areas of the county. Builders were issued 141 single-famly permits by La Plata County in 2013, a 48 percent increase from 95 in 2012.
The rush of building came after years of local builders sitting on the sidelines. When the real-estate market dropped in 2008, many builders pulled back on planned projects.
“We’ve really built no substantial inventory in the last five years,” said Emil Wanatka, president of Timberline Builders in Durango.
That’s left few options for buyers in some segments of the market. Wanatka pointed to a dearth of low-end homes: There are only six current listings for homes less than $300,000 in Durango, according to the Multiple Listing Service.
Houses of 1,500 to 2,200 square feet, and costing less than $500,000, are in strong demand, Martin said.
“There’s a huge market for that right now,” he said.
There’s some indication that the market for high-end homes is returning, as well. More million-dollar homes sold in 2013, but in some cases for less than the listed price, Wanatka said.
Multifamily projects also are coming back, aimed at addressing a shortage of rental housing in Durango. The city issued seven permits for multifamily projects in 2013, as many as in the previous four years combined.
The county issued three multifamily permits in 2013, after having none the previous five years.
“There’s quite a few multifamily projects going today that weren’t going the last few years,” Martin said.
The rental market is extremely tight, with few properties available and sharply rising rents.