Local homebuilder encouraged by strengthening economy

Leaders with area homebuilder M/I Homes say they have to get back to work to keep up with demand as the economy shows signs of improvement in the region, with the strongest areas for the builder being western Union County and into south Charlotte.

“At the end of the day when you look at the amount of resales and new homes on the market and the lack of new homes,” it increases confidence in development because these areas have a demand for housing, said Tamara Lynch, with M/I Homes. Recent job growth in the region has pushed M/I Homes to look at providing more housing options near that growing job market.

Areas like western Union County towns, which Lynch says are the stronger submarkets in the area, are seeing a shortage of housing available, making development from companies like M/I Homes necessary for future growth.  This need for new housing has pushed developers to build new housing options at a higher rate than planned because of the high demand, something they haven’t experienced since the housing market crashed.

“The pace (of home sales) in those areas of town (is) picking up so it’s forcing us to pick up our phases a little bit ahead of schedule.” Lynch said.

One explanation for the lack of housing available, according to Lynch, is the decline of money being invested in development from banks.  Without that money, smaller developing firms are unable to continue growth, but for national
home builders like M/I Homes the change will only require them to rethink how they operate moving forward.

“Because banks aren’t putting money in to fund new development, the house sites that are available are being absorbed quickly,” Lynch said.

According to Lynch, the Charlotte area has one of the strongest housing markets right now, which is another reason she says the developer isn’t nervous about pushing forward with more development.  However, there will be one main difference as they move forward.

“Most national home builders will be doing more self-developing because of the lack of funding from other institutions,” Lynch said.  “It’s forcing those builders who are financially capable to do so to pay for the development themselves.”

Lynch says the lack of involvement from banks is something M/I Homes hopes will diminish over time, allowing more developers to build the housing market back up.  “We are hopeful that environment will change,” she said.

She also said, prior to this recent increase in demand, M/I Homes had not pushed any current housing projects aside with the decline in the market.  M/I Homes maintained a presence in all of their neighborhoods and communities, but development slowed until recently when the economy began to improve.

Now the company plans to get pending projects under way sooner, including projects like the expansion of Fairhaven in Stallings.  Lynch says M/I Homes will not focus on any specific area of south Charlotte or western Union County because there is no “bad area” in either submarket.

“There isn’t one area in south Charlotte that we would avoid.  It would all be based on if the lot size and lot cost would be what the buyer is looking for,” she said.  “… It’s the exact same scenario for Union County.”

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