Another statistic that reflects demand in the residential real estate market is new construction building permits. Over the past 20 years, Harford County has ranged anywhere from 1,500 to 2,700 units per year. As you can image the wheels started to come off the cart in 2006 with 740 permits. It slowed to 633 units in 2007 and plummetted to 396 units in 2008. Within those totals, the county includes: single family detached, townhouses, modulars, condos, mobile homes, and apartments.
Year to date, there have been 437 building permits issued in Harford County which sounds like an improvement, but you have to break the numbers down a little to get some perspective. Within the 437 permits, 84 were for apartments. If you look at the stats over the past several years, there were zero permits for apartment units. If you take out the 84, there were 353 permits for what could be described as mostly owner occupant units. So we are virtually on the same pace as last year.
I find the apartment statistics interesting. I can only speculate that there is a perceived demand for rental units as a reaction to the economic conditions. It is my understanding that many of the BRAC folks moving into the area will be renting. Perhaps that is a reason. Maybe another factor could be the large amount of people who have lost there homes because of foreclosure. Possibly the much stricter mortgage underwriting guidelines have kept many buyers, especially first timers, out of the purchase market. What do you think?