From the Press of Atlantic City:
Despite a housing slump that devastated the home-building industry, new homes continue to be built in southern New Jersey, mostly in projects started before the end of the real estate boom.
“The perception that there are no new homes out there is not true,” said Doug Fenichel, spokesman for K. Hovnanian Homes. “We have homes available, a good selection.”
Home builders say that while the rest of the nation has been in a severe recession, they have been in a depression.
The figures show they’re not exaggerating.
From 1.8 million housing starts in 2006, the industry was cut to less than a third of its former self with a low of 553,000 starts last year, the National Association of Home Builders says. Sales of new single-family homes plunged 65 percent, from 1 million to 372,000.
The home-building slump has nearly halted the large new developments that were common in the growth townships of southern New Jersey during the mid-decade housing boom.
“When the economy and market turned south, home builders stopped building. They certainly stopped building new communities, especially with the heavy regulations in New Jersey,” he said.
The falloff can be seen in K. Hovnanian’s numbers.
In the fiscal quarter ended January 2006, the company signed 608 contracts for homes in the tristate area of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, Fenichel said. In the same quarter in 2009, its home contracts had plunged to 130.
The industry is aware that it’s going to be a long wait, until next year at least.
“We’re all just treading water and hanging in there,” she said.