Zer"0" housing permits issued in May or June - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Zer"0" housing permits issued in May or June

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -It may be a sign that home construction has hit rock bottom in Dougherty County. No new housing permits were issued in May or June.

It's the first time that's happened in at least 16 years. Is it a sign that the housing market is slumping even more, or that the market could soon rebound?

While we all know the housing industry has been hit hard in the past few years, it hadn't come to a complete standstill in Albany, until the past few months when contractors didn't seek any new building permits.

Tracy Hester is in the business of issuing permits to build, "I've been here almost 16 years," he said.  But in the last couple of months, that part of business in the Planning Department has been slow.

Hester said, "It's just evidence that the economy is that bad, that the money has been cut off for the builders to start new projects."

But he didn't expect the housing industry to come to a screeching halt. "I guess we expected a real low number, but didn't expect zero."

But that's what he got. Not a single, single family house permit was issued in May, nor in June, versus 19 a month the year before.  "I don't remember any and we certainly haven't had two consecutive months anytime," said Hester.  And he doesn't believe it will happen anytime again.

Nor does Board of Realtor's President Gary Eller. He says existing house sales have been on the rise, which means the choice for buyers has been narrowed.  Of buyers he said, "We want more options. We want to look at some new houses now."

And he believes banks will begin loaning money to builders again very soon, and permits will be issued. "now you're going to see builders step back into the market because the number of choices that buyers have is not there like it's been before, so you're going to see some permits being drawn here pretty quick."

And actually that's already the case. For July, two permits had been issued as of this afternoon, and eight others were expected to be issued this week. The focus is changing for contractors without homes to build. Many are working on apartment complexes, or doing renovations while waiting on the market to move back to full speed.

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