DeSoto County residential building-permit activity — a signal of housing-market health and overall economic vitality — hit 1,047 through the end of November, surpassing the total of 1,000 for all of 2014. And 2015’s upbeat figure will grow even more when December’s permits are tallied next month.
The numbers and trend cheer DeSoto officials and the area housing industry.
“I’m excited; we’re trending in the right direction,” said DeSoto Supervisor Mark Gardner, a Southaven Realtor.
He said it wouldn’t be surprising for the 2015 total “to reach 1,100, or close to it, which would be a 10 percent increase over 2014.”
“It’s amazing,” said Donnie Chambliss, member of the DeSoto Regional Utility Authority board, a Southaven Realtor and former president of the Home Builders Association of North Mississippi. “I’m cautiously optimistic, and I hope we’ve learned from the past,” said Chambliss.
“For the year to date we’re 12 percent ahead of last year,” said county Deputy Planning Director Austin Cardosi.
Permits for single-family homes, multi-family dwellings such as apartment complexes and for mobile homes stand at 1,047.
November’s total was 56, down as expected from the 103 of a busy October, but 30 percent more than the 43 of November 2014.
“It indicates a healthier phase of growth,” said Cardosi of the steady trend of rising activity since permits hit a low of 483 in 2010 in the wake of the Great Recession and housing market meltdown.
Last year’s 1,000 easily surpassed the 877 of 2013 and was the first four-figure total since 2007, when 1,724 permits were recorded countywide and the recession began to be felt.
“All the cities are tracking up, not just the unincorporated area,” said Cardosi. “So the upward trend is countywide, in all areas.”
Cardosi and other planning staff expect an uptick from December.
“Builders and developers will be trying to get the final draw,” said Cardosi.
“November is usually slow, but December looks to pick up a bit,” said administrative assistant Ashley Hendricks.
The unincorporated county led in November with 18 single-family permits and one mobile-home permit. Southaven was a close second with 18 single-family permits; third was Olive Branch with 12; Horn Lake had three and Hernando tallied four. No single-family permits for the month were reported from Walls, and there were no multi-family permits anywhere in the county.
In the heady pre-recession period, countywide permits totaled 2,850 in 2005 and 3,112 in 2006.
“I’m not saying the next few years will be like it was, but there are so many good reasons to live in DeSoto County, it’s cause for optimism,” said Chambliss.
He said that among population forecasts for DeSoto prepared as part of a DCRUA master plan, “the most conservative showed 70,000 people moving in during the next 15 years, and we’re beginning to see that.”
Gardner agreed that pre-recession figures may be years away, but said factors such as quality of life, low crime, good schools, jobs and soon Interstate 69 and its connectors, will be fueling county growth.
“We ain’t seen nothing yet, so to speak,” said Gardner. “As I-69 opens up in the next couple years, we’ll start seeing development in places where there’s been no development before. With exits on Getwell Road, Laughter Road and Craft Road, there’ll be development in all those areas.”
Already, said Gardner, “builders are building spec homes again without fear of getting stuck with them, and developers are stepping up again. They’re going before the Planning Commission to talk about building subdivisions, which we haven’t seen for years.”
Henry Bailey is Contributing Writer and Copy Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune