Housing market looks for spring rebound

Published: Saturday, April 6 2013 4:40 p.m. MDT

With the number of existing single-family homes for sale in limited supply, the market for new houses is expected to climb, Wood said. That was good news to homebuilders, who have experienced a significant decrease in the number of new construction housing in the wake of the housing bubble and mortgage crisis.

Fortunately, after an extended “down” period, the demand for new housing is beginning to rise, according to Chris Gamvroulas, president of development at Ivory Homes.

“We see more activity in the market,” he said. “We’ve had the best first quarter in sales that we’ve had in six years.”

He noted, however, that there were still “headwinds” that have builders concerned, such as the rising costs of labor and materials required to operate effectively, labor shortages and the national economic uncertainty that could potentially increase historically low mortgage interest rates.

Uncertainty continued Friday with the release of national unemployment statistics showing that businesses dramatically curtailed hiring in March. Economists are also predicting weakness in the economy as the nation deals with deep federal spending cuts through the summer.

Despite the potential concerns, Gamvroulas said that the homebuilder community was “cautiously optimistic” about the upcoming warm weather sales season in Utah.

“We’re under-producing right now after absorbing was an oversupply a few years ago,” he said. “Now we need to start producing more housing to keep up with new household formations.”

He said that his company is projecting to build about 700 homes in 2013, after falling to a low of 550 homes during the recession. At the height of the housing market, the company — the largest locally-based developer — built as many as 1,200 homes in a single year, he said. Now, the goal is to reestablish strength in the Utah housing market.

“The market can’t comeback (to peak levels) that fast,” he said. “We’re going to build more homes this year."

Rancie of Australia is already out there looking.

“My parents (who were visiting from Australia) came out looking with me last week and were amazed by what you could buy for $200,000,” Rancie said.

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com, Twitter: JasenLee1

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