Demand for new homes, construction workers in Phoenix soar

    Demand for new homes in metro Phoenix is climbing so rapidly that contractors can’t get them built fast enough.

    New home permits were up more than 40 percent in 2015 from  2014. And an early tally for December shows it will be best month for new home sales in several years.

    But it’s not that homebuilders don’t have the land or models open and ready to show buyers. They don’t have enough construction workers.

    To keep up with orders for new homes, contractors are offering competitors crews more money. Workers are leaving one new subdivision to work in another one a few blocks away. Contractor groups are running radio ads trying to recruit more workers. And some builders are paying cash bonuses to keep workers.

    “Homebuilders’ biggest struggle right now is with labor,” Jim Belfiore told me. His firm, Belfiore Real Estate Consulting, held an annual forecast meeting Tuesday for the industry. He said finding enough workers to keep up with demand was the biggest issue among speakers and attendees.

    Belfiore also said he was recently at a new Valley subdivision when a home builder came out of his trailer and handed a construction worker a $100 bill not to go to work for a competitor.

    Metro Phoenix lost more than 200,000 construction jobs during the housing crash; most of those workers left the state or changed careers.

    Valley homebuilding is still at less than one-third the pace during the boom, so all of those jobs haven’t returned. But most of the region’s contractors are hiring.

    National surveys show framing contractors are most in demand in Arizona and the West.

    “There are currently backlogs in certain trades due to the labor shortage,” Greg Burger of RL Brown Housing Reports told me. “Framing contractors are undeniably needed, but others trades are feeling the choke points of the strengthening market as well.”

    Housing analysts say the biggest cost increase for builders this year will be for labor.

    Many new homebuyers in metro Phoenix must wait a bit longer to close and move in because of the construction worker shortage. It typically takes four to six  months to build a new Valley home, but now some builders are quoting buyers nine months.

    If Arizona builders must pay more to construct houses, prices are likely to climb. New home costs rose about 3 percent last year. Resale pricesclimbed at double that rate.

    So if you are looking at new houses in the Phoenix area, you might want to lock in on a price now.

    That same house likely will cost more in six months.

     

    By: , The Republic | azcentral.com

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