Could this be the year that the new housing market turns around in Wyandotte County?
There are some encouraging signs that the new homes market is getting better.
For the first three months of 2012, the Unified Government had issued only 10 new single-family home building permits, compared to 55 from January 2013 to the end of March 2013, said Greg Talkin, director of the UG Neighborhood Resource Center. Talkin added that in 2012, there were a total of 108 single-family permits issued for the entire year. It was an increase from 2011.
He attributed the increase, which really started in October of last year, to the improved economy and also to incentives that the UG Commission approved to assist the building industry by waiving some building permit fees. Also, the Board of Public Utilities provided some incentives in certain neighborhoods by waiving some fees, he added.
The interest in building new homes here is an encouraging trend to a housing market that fell flat around 2008. In February, UG officials reported that there were more than 6,000 properties eligible for tax sales or delinquent in taxes in Kansas City, Kan. It was part of the national recession that hit the housing market particularly hard.
When the Greater Kansas City Home Builders Association’s annual Parade of Homes kicks off April 20, there will be three new Kansas City, Kan., homes listed on the tour. While that is small compared to neighboring Johnson County, with more than 100 new homes on the tour, some builders have not given up on Wyandotte County.
Dave Smith, a home builder with Stonecreek Custom Homes who has a new home on the tour at 2843 N. 114th Terrace in Kansas City, Kan., said he used to have four to five homes on the Parade of Homes Tour in 2007-2008, when times were better.
“I can afford to put one on now,” said Smith, a Shawnee resident who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., where he went to Christ the King Grade School and Washington High School. He said the number of home builders has been reduced greatly in Greater Kansas City since the recession.
The home on 114th Terrace has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a three-car garage and sells for $245,000.
Smith said he has noticed the improvement in the housing market.
“It’s been really, really good in the last two months,” Smith said. “We have five contracts now that we signed, and we are putting in for more speculative homes, and things are going really well in Wyandotte County.”
While the past few years have really hurt home builders, the numbers are starting to lean in their favor now, he said.
He’s now building exclusively in Wyandotte County, where he says a $245,000 home is equivalent to the same home that sells for $275,000 in Johnson County.
“You get a lot more for your buck in KCK right now,” Smith said. “People are wanting to move back to KCK or to KCK because it's a great place to live.”
Besides the incentives on fees being offered by the UG, Smith pointed to encouraging factors such as interest rates being low, Cerner coming to town with thousands of new jobs, the expansion of the Kansas Speedway area, and cancer research expansion coming to the University of Kansas Medical Center, as helping the home market in Wyandotte County.
Many of the new jobs coming to Wyandotte County are at the professional level and will pay salaries allowing employees to buy homes. And a lot of people are looking for a home closer to their work, he added.
“It’s like a perfect storm for us in Wyandotte County,” Smith said. “We’re excited about it.”