D-FW zooms to top of U.S. homebuilding markets

By Steve Brown Real Estate Editor The Dallas Morning News

Published: 11 August 2016 10:02 AM Updated: 11 August 2016 10:09 AM

Dallas-Fort Worth is topping the country in home starts this year.

D-FW zoomed to the head of the list of the U.S.'s biggest homebuilding markets thanks to increased starts here and a significant decline in Houston.

For the 12 months ending at midyear, D-FW builders had started 29,626 homes, according to the latest data from analysts at Metrostudy Inc. That's a more than a 20 percent increase in the pace of building from 2015 levels.

Houston was the top homebuilding market in 2015, according to U.S. Census data. And Houston had led the country in building for several years.

Since 2015 the annual start rate in the Houston area has dropped by more than 3,500 homes due to the decline in oil and gas industry employment and the impact cutbacks have had on the area's economy.

Houston home starts totaled just over 26,000 annual at midyear, according to Metrostudy.

Atlanta was third nationally with 20,449 home starts.

Texas' two other big-city markets also made Metrostudy's top home starts list.

Austin ranked ninth with 13,423 starts. And San Antonio wound up in 14th place with 9,978 home starts.

North Texas home starts and sales this year are at the highest level since the Great Recession. And building volumes are expected to increase further in the second half of 2016, according to Metrostudy.

"I am forecasting starts to be between 30,000 and 31,000 by end of 2016," said Metrostudy regional manager Paige Shipp.

With strong economic growth in North Texas and thousands of people moving to the area for jobs, local homebuilders can't keep pace with the demand for housing.

Even so, home starts in the D-FW area remain about 40 percent below where they were in 2006 due to shortages of labor and high production costs.