New residential permits were up 12 percent last year in the seven counties monitored by The Market Edge and the outlook for this year is 7 percent growth. New residential permits have increased for the past three years, but permit performance is 61 percent less than what it was at the pre-recession peak.
Travis Patterson, Patterson Homes in Kingsport, like other local builders was watching the weather the last week of February. He said he was ready to start on 15 speculative and custom homes as soon as it’s dry enough to start site preparation. That’s just one example of the pace of new home building as the region entered 2018.
The Market Edge’s annual report shows new permit growth in every Northeast Tennessee county except Carter, Hawkins and Washington County, Va. But since the annual permit report is a lagging indicator, it doesn’t always reflect current market conditions. For instance, Hawkins County is seeing new home growth and local governments are looking at offering additional incentives to builders to pick up the pace. That’s being driven by job creation at Phipps Bend. And according to the Tennessee State Data Center, Hawkins is among the counties in the region where the population is expected to grow this year.
New home permits in 2017 were up in Greene, Sullivan and Washington counties in Tennessee and Scott County, Va.
Last year’s new permit growth was the slowest annual growth rate since 2015 when year-over-year permits increased by 17 percent (138 permits). The 2016 growth was 13 percent (106 permits) and last year’s growth dropped to 12 percent (109 permits).
Compared to the other metro areas in East Tennessee, last year’s local new permit performance lagged Knoxville by 5 percent. Since permit growth in Chattanooga was flat, the Tri-Cities’ 12 percent growth rate looked strong. But even with a flat year-over-year performance, Chattanooga had a little more than twice the number of new permits than the Tri-Cities.
There are several drivers of the increased local new home demand, including two years of record tight inventory, good economic reports and more new homes for buyers who are 55 years old or older. Patterson says his firm is seeing some good results in that market niche. He said he’s having a lot of success with two and three-bedroom one-level speculative homes in Chase Meadows.
Eastern Eight is also progressing on its new homes targeted to first-time and low-income buyers. That squares with reports from the National Homebuilders’ Association that builders are turning their attention to the demand for first-time buyers seeking more affordable housing.
There was also an increase in high-end homes last year. The Market Edge defines high-end homes as those that are 4,000 square feet or more or have a construction cost of $400,000 and up. Washington County, Tenn. still dominates that part of the new home market.
Dale Akins, president, and CEO of the Market Edge, projected 7 percent new Tri-Cities permit growth during a meeting with the Kingsport Home Builders Association earlier this year. Akins is considered the best resource for building permit information in the region and his projects have been spot on for the past several years. The takeaways from his presentation were employment is up, but still below pre-recession levels. Population growth is slow. Increased apartment construction slows housing market demand.
The State Data Center’s population projection for this year is for slow growth – up almost 1,400 - led by Washington County, Tenn.
KINGSPORT — Remember the 2002 movie “Catch Me If You Can”?
The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Kingsport Program is presenting a “Catch Me If You Can” Cybersecurity Conference on Thursday, April 26 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center.
Frank Abagnale, who was the subject of that movie, will be the event’s keynote speaker.
Abagnale, according to a chamber release, is a security consultant known for his history in forgery, embezzlement and as an imposter. He gained notoriety in the U.S. and overseas for his fraudulent crimes. He was later hired by the FBI as an expert on forgery and document theft and became the subject of a best-selling book, film and Broadway musical, “Catch Me If You Can.”
Other topics for the daylong seminar include technology and equipment by Tele-Optics, personal security by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, legal protection by Wilson Worley, medical security by Ballad Health, accounting security by Brown Edwards and financial services security by Eastman Credit Union.
Tickets are on sale now for $179, but the price will increase to $199 after Saturday, March 31.
Registration is online at KingsportChamber.org.
For more information, contact Vanessa Bennett at (423) 392-8813 or [email protected]
The event’s Platinum sponsors are Ballad Health, Eastman Credit Union and Tele-Optics. Partner sponsors are Brown Edwards, city of Kingsport and Wilson Worley. Media sponsors are ABC Tri-Cities, Kingsport Times News and WJHL News Channel 11.