On Tuesday – the day before the Commerce Department said homebuilding had surged to a four-year high – Bill Saint of Classica Homes said his company’s business was surprisingly good.
Classica recently introduced five new models, to be built primarily in neighborhoods in Concord and Cornelius. At an open house in the Cabarrus County neighborhood, Christenbury Glen, he said Classica has sold 22 homes already – six more than it hoped to sell all year. September was especially strong.
These are homes that start at about $430,000 and go up well over $500,000. That’s roughly twice what new homes in Charlotte were selling for at midsummer, according to Builderonline.com.
I asked Saint: What accounts for the sales?
These are fairly well-to-do customers. They probably haven’t been hit as hard by the downturn as others. Still, are they making more or do they just feel better about the economy and their own prospects?
“Totally, it’s feel better,” he said. “Totally.”
These are experienced, move-up buyers. They’ve established a certain comfort level with how much home they can afford. They’re realistic about the struggling economy, he said. Few at any income level get or expect huge raises. Still, they have enough confidence to buy anyway, with interest rates near-record lows.
“At these rates … the check you’re writing each month (to pay your mortgage) is 25 percent less than it would have been three or four years ago,” Saint said.
The buyer who was comfortable spending $400,000 in the past now might rest easy at $500,000.
Saint compared the experience to buying a high-end car. He’s not a car nut, he said. He doesn’t know the sticker prices for popular BMW, Lexus and Mercedes models. “But I think they cost $499 or $529 a month. That’s what the ads say.”
The car nut just has to be comfortable with that $499.
On Wednesday, the day after that conversation, the government said builders started work at an annual pace of 872,000 homes in September, up 15 percent from the rate in August.
Much of that increase was attributed to multifamily housing, but starts of single-family homes were up 11 percent. Applications for building permits, which reflect future construction, were up nearly 12 percent
Reports said foreclosures have fallen to a five-year low, cutting the number of distressed properties available. Cutbacks in construction have reduced the number of new homes on the market. Unemployment has fallen.
Also, national reports pointed out, interest rates hover near record lows.
Special to the Observer: Homeinfo@embarqmail.com