Posted on July 25, 2011 by Mike Means

'We are shifting gears'

The state homebuilder association's chief probably said it best recently at the industry's annual state convention: "Shifting gears may be the way."

The tone of the meeting held at the Choctaw Casino in Durant was simply that - change gears as there's a market out there.

As they wait for the tide to turn, some are turning to remodeling.

"We're doing remodel work and commercial (work). In the last six weeks, the phone calls have been non-stop. We shifted gears and started to take projects we used to not take. Because we handle our own design, remodeling work is an easy transition."

Across the state, the economic picture varies. In Norman and Newscastle, the number of building permits is up, while the City of Lawton is 25-30 percent down.

"We were thinking with the military base expansion of 2,500 personnel, the expectation was those people would purchase rather than rent," said John Jones, Lawton Home Builders Association president.

"But 80 percent of the new arrivals are renting because many came from areas where they could not sell their homes."

The Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa is trying something new this year - a remodelers' showcase of homes, with nine featured.

Enid has only let 4-5 residential building permits thus far this year, as residential construction is significantly down, but commercial is up, said president Enid HBA president Cory Moore. The annual Parade of Homes showcased 16, which is "great in the times we are in."

Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association enlisted 50 new members in their membership drive.

On the flip side, in Stillwater, "residential has come to a screeching halt," said Stillwater HBA president Matt Keys. The Tour of Homes was cancelled, and 30 permits have been issued thus far this year, 75 percent down from the previous year. The growth is outside the city limits, Keys said.

In South Oklahoma City, "Times are tough. The Showcase of Homes there featured 38 homes. In previous years, the tour featured 60-70 homes. Meanwhile, in Shawnee, permits are down by 10 percent.

A comment from the recently established Greater Sequoyah County chapter president drew chuckles from the group. Rich Looper reported in to OSHBA president Mike Means that, last year, his only job was remodeling a bathroom. This year, he just recently received his first building permit in three years.

Is the picture looking up?

Despite the news, Oklahomans are known as survivors. This too shall pass.

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