Building construction downturn could be a plus for consumers

Reported by Dick Berry email
Posted by Kate Oatis email

WOOD COUNTY (WTOL) - The housing industry is going through a really tough time. New home construction continues to plummet across the country, and nowhere is that more evident than in Wood County.

Wood County officials say the downturn can effect such revenue flow as payroll taxes.

"If (plumbers, pipefitters and carpenters are) not building homes, they don't have a job," said Jim Carter, Wood County commissioner.

Here are the hard facts. As of July of this year in Wood County, 125 homes were built or under construction. The same period last year, 175 homes -- a considerable drop.

"This would be my 28th year in this business. Worse time I've ever seen it," said Kevin Stoots, Gordon Lumber Co.

Indeed, folks at the Gordon Lumber Co. have become more frugal. Until there's a housing turnaround, they're doing their best to make up for lost business.

"Doors. Windows. Replacement windows. We're finding a lot of people are fixing up what they have instead of building news," said Stoots.

Builders say this is actually a good time to put up a house. Lumber is affordable, and interest rates are decent.

Potential customers, though, are afraid to make the big jump.

"They're just waiting to see what the markets are gonna do and see if they can get a better deal," said builder Tim Evans.

But analysts believe construction will continue to fall as builders struggle to reduce a backlog of unsold new homes in a market that continues to slump.

Wood County is obviously part of a national trend. In August, the U.S. Commerce Department reports housing construction dropped 6.2 percent. That's actually the slowest building pace since January of 1991.