Home Construction

By Neil Nisperos, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 12/21/14, 7:35 PM PST |

The Inland Empire’s housing market — dormant for the better part of the past decade — appears to be stirring, with new construction sites sprouting throughout the region, and sales are underway in the first post-recession development in Ontario’s ambitious New Model Colony, where as many as 50,000 new homes are expected to be built over the next 20 years.

Economists point to local job growth, increasing consumer confidence and affordability as key factors behind the anticipated boom.

“In 2014, a lot of people have been sitting on the sidelines, and 2015 is the year they’re going to get back in the game,” said Randall Lewis, executive vice president of the Lewis Group of Cos., a major Inland Empire developer.

Indeed, the numbers look good.

Data released Thursday by the Department of Labor show that the Inland Empire added 50,000 jobs from June 2013 to June 2014.

Additionally, residential building permits are being pulled in ever-increasing numbers.

“I think there’s a chance we can get up to 10,000 new home permits being pulled during 2015, which would be pretty good,” said John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. “It was at 37,000 (permits pulled) in 2011, 47,000 in 2012, 65,000 in 2013 and 71,000 in 2014. So the strength is building, but the overall economy in Southern California is strengthening as well, and that, in fact, should create a stronger environment for home construction next year.”

Lower home prices are also a draw for would-be homeowners who can’t afford to buy in communities closer to the coast.

“In the Inland Empire, roughly 42 percent of people in our median income can afford to buy a home,” Husing said. “In Los Angeles County, it’s 30 percent, and in Orange, it’s 20 percent, so that means between 70 and 80 percent of residents of Orange and L.A. counties can’t afford a house. That drives them inland.”

Hammers are already swinging across the region, and homes are selling at Park Place in south Ontario, the first development to open in the master-planned New Model Colony since the Great Recession.

Four companies are building homes in Park Place — KB Homes, Woodside, TRI Pointe and Ryland — and residents are expected begin moving in by spring, according to Lewis, whose company has partnered with Irvine-based Stratham Communities to develop the project.

Lewis believes the coming year will be good for the housing industry.

“2015 is going to see better demand, generated by sustainable forces, such as job growth, more consumer confidence in the housing market,” he said. “Then I think there are some good projects coming out.”

The homes being built today are not the same as those that were constructed a few years ago. Some homes are intended to house multiple generations of a family with additional accommodations for privacy, bigger rooms and even more energy-efficiency features, Lewis said.

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