Housing headaches

It’s unfortunate — but true — that even the energy industry can’t insulate the local housing economy from problems besetting the rest of the nation.

The latest evidence is the drop in building permits for the first four months of this year — a reduction of 31.2 percent from the same period in 2007.

That doesn’t mean Mesa County housing is in the same sort of price free-fall that other parts of the country are suffering.

Take Las Vegas, for instance. Just a few years ago, it was a poster child for skyrocketing real-estate markets. But from April 2007 to April 2008, Las Vegas home prices plunged 26.8 percent, the steepest drop in the nation, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.
Miami, Phoenix and Los Angeles were not far behind in plummeting prices, while Denver saw a relatively mild drop.

For the 20 cities selected, the average home-price decrease was 15.3 percent from April 2007 to April of this year, according to the Case-Shiller survey.

Locally, one of the reasons for the decline in building permits is that financial institutions are reluctant to lend money to builders right now. That’s hardly surprising, given the number of failed subdivisions and homeowners facing foreclosure nationwide.

There is some good news. In a few cities where prices have dropped significantly the past two years, such as Cleveland, home prices actually began to inch up from March to April of this year.

So far, Mesa County home prices have done little more than decelerate from the astonishing increases of the past decade. Homeowners can say thanks to the energy industry and the multitude of workers it has brought to this area, if that is the worst we see.


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