Officials: Area housing construction up

Freedom New Mexico: Tony Bullocks A home under construction on Fred Daugherty Drive.

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico

On the surface, new housing numbers may not seem impressive or enough to ease concerns over where newcomers to Cannon Air Force Base are going to live.

But local real estate and building experts say the figures in Clovis and Portales are steady or higher than average.

In September, 11 permits were issued in Clovis for new single-family homes while three were issued in Portales.

Col. Stephen Clark, commander at Cannon Air Force Base, recently told the Military Base Planning Commission an influx of new personnel may eat up the available living quarters at the base by March.

Clark added the composition of Cannon’s men, women and families is getting younger — and often without the necessary income to rent or purchase more expensive homes in nearby communities.

Of the 11 new Clovis homes permitted last month, none were estimated with a value less that $146,000. The average per-home-value was $190,639.

According to Realtor Kathy Segura, who sells homes in both Clovis and Portales, new homes are being sold — and quickly.

“Right now, the new homes are selling really fast,” said Segura, who works for Re/Max. “If they’re going for under $200,000, they’re going into contract barely after getting started (on the market).

“At one time, I thought it (11 new homes in one month) was too much. But it’s about right for right now,” she added. “They say we’re going to get another huge influx and, if we do, it probably won’t be. But you don’t know when that’s going to be, or if.”

The pace of new home construction in Portales is on par with previous numbers over the past three years.

A total of 15 permits for new homes have been issued for the current fiscal year, which began July 1.

An average of 32 new dwellings per year have been erected in Portales since 2006.

For Clovis, the number of 153 permits for new homes this year is up from 142 for the period of Oct. 2007 to Sept. 2008.

That, said Pete Wilt, the city’s director of building, makes Curry County the “only county in New Mexico that showed an increased rate of home production.”

Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield, also a Realtor, believes a residual effect would enable new residents to purchase lower-priced homes vacated by those able to buy the newer and more expensive ones.

And she believes local developers would fill in the gaps.

“I think the private sector will step up and provide housing,” Brumfield said. “There’s been a lot of things that have been going on. We had (Cannon) for closure on the BRAC list and that killed real estate for a while. Then about the time it started coming back, that’s when the economy started going down.”

Mike Linn, owner of Linn Homes in Clovis, is slightly increasing the number of homes his company is building in the next month.

His business received three permits for new residences in the north part of Clovis for September. Linn said his firm is in various stages of building 11 new homes at the present.

“They range from 1,200 square feet to 2,000; the price range is pretty broad as well,” Linn said. “We’ll probably build one or two a week, though it might slow down over the winter.”

From a real estate agent’s point of view, Re/Max’s Segura thought three permits last month was just about right for Portales.

“That’s about right, because the used homes are selling — a lot of those because they have acreage,” Segura said. “Some of these military guys coming in want a half-acre that’s kind of away from everything.”

“We’re aggressively encouraging our local builders,” Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega said. “We’re meeting with builders that come to our community. We’re expressing the need and showing them the numbers that demonstrate the need for new housing.”