North Texas sees surge in home building

New home construction jumped in the first quarter from a year ago as strong demand and low inventory drove prices higher in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, Dallas-based consulting firm Residential Strategies said Thursday.

Builders started 7,316 new homes in North Texas from January to March, up 59.3 percent from 4,592 in the same period a year ago. The first quarter ended with 3,001 finished vacant new homes for sale, an unusually tight 1.8-month supply, Residential Strategies said.

Prices are rising as a result.

The median new home price in the quarter was $264,029, up 8 percent from $244,531 a year ago, Residential Strategies said. Half of new homes sold for less than the median, and half for more.

“The consumer has faced some sticker shock this spring,” said Ted Wilson, a principal with Residential Strategies.

For the 12 months ending in March, DFW builders started construction on 23,557 homes, a 23.7 percent increase from the same period a year ago.

“With the challenging weather conditions and labor shortages that the builders experienced this winter, a portion of the fourth quarter of 2013 starts were pushed into the new year,” Wilson said. “We heard solid builder reports of an early spring housing market with especially strong buyer traffic on weekends with good weather conditions.”

Closings in the first quarter totaled 4,547 homes, compared with 4,208 a year ago.

Developers are picking up the pace on preparing lots for construction, Wilson said. At the end of the quarter, 19,795 new lots were under development, compared with 11,726 in the same quarter a year ago and 6,633 in the first quarter of 2012.