29% decline in I.E. for October
Wesley G. Hughes, Staff Writer
Created: 11/23/2010 05:53:56 PM PST

After four straight months of positive movement, building permits issued in October were down nearly 30 percent in the Inland Empire from the same month a year ago, according to a report out Tuesday.

In October, builders pulled 241 permits for new single-family homes in the I.E., a 28.9 percent drop from October 2009, according to the California Building Industry Association.

The 10-month total of pulled permits for 2010 was 981. But when October rolled around in 2009, that number was at a more robust 1,407.

Liz Snow, CBIA’s president and CEO, said the numbers were disappointing and noted that the state is on track to see the second-lowest number of housing starts since records began 1954.

The state saw a 28 percent drop in single-family permits for new housing, compared to October last year.

“While it’s good that we’re still above last year’s production levels, it was disappointing to see single-family production fall behind last year’s pace,” Snow said. “Continued weakness in the job market, high foreclosure rates, and tighter lending standards (are) making it difficult for builders to get projects off the ground.

But two major regional figures – builder Randall Lewis and San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris – believe they can see the green of money at the tunnel’s end.

Lewis, a principal of the Upland-based Lewis Group of Companies, said the grim housing numbers are “no surprise,” adding that “we are nearing the bottom of a very difficult period and it would surprise me if the numbers for next month are similarly negative.”

But he is gaining confidence.

“We just bought property in Fontana and other developers are buying land in preparation for recovery,” Lewis said. He said he is not expecting a boom, “just the beginning of recovery.

“The job numbers are beginning to look OK,” the builder said, but in addition to stimulus at the national and state levels, we also need leadership at the local level.

Mayor Morris and Lewis were solidly on the same wavelength when it comes to real estate being a buyer’s market.

“It’s a good opportunity,” Morris said, “because land values are down substantially. It’s a time of good shopping.”

To read entire story, click here.