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Meck building permits suggest 2012 is year of homebuilding comeback

CHARLOTTE — 2012 is really shaping up to be the year of the residential construction comeback in Mecklenburg County.

The county’s homebuilders in November continued their 2012 surge past the previous year’s building permit figures, according to just-released monthly and year-to-date statistics compiled by the Home Builders Association of Charlotte.

As of Nov. 30, the number of permits issued to builders of benchmark single-family houses in Mecklenburg County last year was up 20 percent to 2,096 compared with 1,747 for all of 2011.

The value of those permits is also higher than that for all of 2011. For the first 11 months of 2012, that figure jumped 9.6 percent to $330 million over last year’s total of $301 million.

“I think you’re seeing it borne out in the figures what we’ve been seeing in the field. It is a trend, a definite trend,” said Alan Banks, president of the HBAC and co-owner of Evans Coghill Homes.

In a month-to-month comparison of the value of the permits issued in November against the previous month, homebuilding in the county fell by 0.9 percent, from $31.8 million in October to $31.5 million. For the same time period, the number of permits dropped a negligible half a percent, from 196 to 195.

The HBAC bases its report on the county’s building permits database. In another HBAC finding, the race for top homebuilder in Mecklenburg County for 2012 is starting to solidify.

M/I Homes’ Charlotte operation leads by several lengths in the number of permits and permit value over its nearest competitor, D.R. Horton. That makes the Charlotte branch of Columbus, Ohio-based M/I the odds-on favorite to finish at No. 1 in number of permits and value.

With M/I at 237 permits so far this year worth $37.4 million and Horton at $28.9 million in 219 permits, Horton needs 19 more December permits — worth more than $8.5 million in total — than however many M/I is issued in December to beat M/I.

The list of top five builders based on value of permits in the first 11 months 0f 2012 includes four of the previous year’s homebuilding companies but in different order.

The one builder no longer in the 2012 top five is Lennar, which was No. 1 in 2011 but, as of November, dropped six spots to No. 7 and showed no signs that month to be making much of a comeback.

The one builder that is among 2012′s top five but wasn’t in the top five last year is Ryan Homes, which moved up one spot to No. 5.

For the first 11 months of 2012, Lennar had 109 permits worth $19.6 million, less than half of the previous year’s 263 permits worth $42.2 million. But, on the other hand, this year’s No. 1, M/I, appears unlikely to match Lennar’s last year totals.

Lennar and M/I officials did not immediately return calls for comment.

2012’s top five so far looks like this: M/I, Horton, Pulte Homes, True Homes and Ryan Homes.

The previous year’s top five finished like this: Lennar, M/I, Pulte, Horton and True.

The rest of the top 10 by permit value so far in 2012 starts with No. 6 Mattamy Homes, followed by Lennar, Regent Homes, Standard Pacific and Eastwood Homes.

Tony Brown can be reached at tony.brown@mecktimes.com, (704) 247-2912 or on Twitter at @tonymecktimes.

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