Corey Proshek cuts siding for a house in the Crystal Ridge subdivision in Monclova Township by McCarthy Builders. Mr. McCarthy’s firm built nearly 300 homes last year, and he said he anticipates doing at least that many this year.
The Toledo area’s new-home market appears poised to have its best year since the recession eight years ago, according to local builders and others in the housing industry.
“The new-house market is moving really well. The midrange and larger homes are doing good, and the market is steady,” said builder Steve Gillenwater, president of the Home Builder’s Association of Greater Toledo Inc. and owner of Squires Development Co. of Sylvania Township.
“I think a lot of people out there are buying, and the existing market is moving well,” Mr. Gillenwater said. “If that existing market is moving, that means the new-home market is moving too.”
Don Mewhort III, president of Midland Title agency in Toledo, said new-home activity for the start of 2017, compared to the same period the last few years, has increased dramatically.
Ninety-three house-building permits have been issued in Lucas and Wood counties in the first two months of 2017, up a few ticks from 89 a year ago but well past the 63 issued during the period two years ago, according to figures compiled by the Home Builders Association.
The numbers don’t include Toledo and Maumee, but those cities generally have few new-home permits.
“The title business is as optimistic as I’ve seen it in six or eight years,” Mr. Mewhort said. “There’s more buildings, there’s more home going up. We’re seeing the developers put up new plats and subdivisions.”
Builders say the hottest areas for new homes are Perrysburg, Monclova Township, and the Sylvania area. However, activity also is heating up in the Waterville-Whitehouse area and in Bedford Township in Michigan.
Brody Walters, planning and zoning administrator for Perrysburg, said that through April 14 the city issued 17 permits for new homes this year, compared with 21 a year ago.
Still, he said, “I would say that we’re seeing an increase. We didn't necessarily see last year the number of different projects that we’re seeing now. We’re seeing people looking for new areas to develop. They’re looking at converting land that hasn’t previously been considered for subdivisions.”
Construction continues at Perrysburg’s River’s Edge. Builders say popular single-family home sizes start with 1,500 square feet and end at about 3,000 square feet.
Recently, the city was asked to approve a 180-lot subdivision named Summerfield, and it was told another unnamed 165-lot subdivision would be resubmitted soon, Mr. Walters said.
Perrysburg has approved or is in the process of approving new housing plats in the Riverford, Canterbury, Hawthorne, Horseshoe Bend, and Sanctuary subdivisions, he added.
“I would say it’s possible the city has in the pipeline or created close to 1,000 new lots,” Mr. Walters said. “Some are carried over from last year, but many are now ready to go.”
Builders say this season looks different from the past in that demand is rising across all sectors — villa homes for empty-nesters, single-family houses for families moving up from existing homes, very large homes in the secondary new-home market, and multifamily units.
“It’s great. The market right now is confident and it’s across the board ... ,” said Brian McCarthy of McCarthy Builders of Sylvania, whose Riverbend subdivision in Middleton Township, south of Perrysburg, and Crystal Ridge subdivision in Monclova Township are bustling with building activity. His firm built nearly 300 homes last year and anticipates doing at least that number this year.
Ridge Stone Builders owner Tim Gruber said it’s good that the market is advancing — but demand is not over-the-top.
“It’s coming back gradually like it should. Traffic is really good,” said Mr. Gruber, who has seven villa homes under construction now and has five more he needs to start.
“We’re not crazy busy, but we’re really busy,” said builder Todd Berman of Berman Building Co. of Sylvania. “Last year was good, and I think it’s going to be very similar to last year.”
Whitehouse-based builder Josh Doyle said one thing that may be helping to fuel the steady growth is higher appraisals for existing homes.
“Appraisals are really good. So home values are very good. We’re not seeing the residue left from the recession anymore,” said the owner of Homes by Josh Doyle.
Where new-home buyers want to be is pretty well known — Perrysburg, Monclova Township, and Sylvania, area builders agree.
But what people want to buy these days is different from a decade ago.
David Miller, vice president of corporate development at the Danberry Co. of Toledo, recently gathered buyer data for the local Home Builders Association, and he found the results surprising.
People are willing to spend more per square foot for a new house than a used house, he said, which means they don't want to just renovate an old house. “It means people want it done, and they don’t want to do it themselves,” he said.
Mr. Miller said buyers used to want bigger square footage in a new home, “but 8-foot ceilings are very hard to sell today.”
Instead, the trends are a smaller home but one packed with amenities. “The kitchens are much more complicated today — stainless steel appliances, granite countertops,” Mr. Miller said.
New-home buyers seem more versed in what they want — having watched home TV shows or read home magazines — and are willing to pay for it, he said.
Veteran home builder Jim Moline of James E. Moline Builders of Toledo said most buyers he sees want an open-room concept, granite countertops, custom cabinets, and tiled showers.
“Those were all the luxuries before, but now people want them in every aspect of a house,” Mr. Moline said. “And there’s been a resurgence in the last three or four years of ranch-style homes.
“And a ranch-style is the most expensive because the house is so spread out.”
Generally, villa homes — usually one story, maintenance-free living — range from $250,000 to $300,000, but can go up to $400,000 depending on the amenities, area builders say.
And their sizes usually are 1,500 to nearly 2,000 square feet, not counting basements which are not included in square-footage totals.
Single-family homes start at about $200,000, although builders said it is hard to build at that price and add many amenities because prices of building materials have increased significantly in the last few years.
The high end is about $400,000.
“The sweet spot is somewhere between $300,000 to $400,000,” Mr. Moline said.
Both Mr. Doyle and Mr. Berman said it’s not unusual in the new-home market to have houses priced above $400,000.
Builders said popular single-family homes sizes start with 1,500 square feet and end somewhere about 3,000 square feet.
But Mr. McCarthy, a prolific builder, said the average home he builds has 2,000 square feet. Mr. Moline said his average is 2,200 to 2,600 square feet.
Mr. Moline said that buyers wanting bigger houses — 3,000 square feet or more — are finding that harder to accomplish in Sylvania and Sylvania Township because few approved housing developments have large lots available.
Some area buyers are looking to find bigger lot sizes.
Builder Scott Bollin of Southfork Real Estate LLC of Lambertville, said demand for lots in his Reserve at Summerlyn subdivision in Lambertville has been so strong it is nearly built out.
Demand is even more intense, he said, for villa homes at his complementary Villas at Summerlyn project in Lambertville.
“It is out of control. We cannot keep up. I work seven days a week, and we have people there all the time. I’m constantly with customers,” he said. Mr. Bollin said he has sold 25 villas since Dec. 26 and is in negotiations for 25 more.
“Pent-up demand is a factor, but consumer confidence has boomed lately, it seems,” he said.
Baby Boom generation buyers tell him they fear interest rates may rise, so they want to buy now, Mr. Bollin said.
“When I tell them the price they do not bat an eye. They want every option — hardwood floors, ceramic tile, Euro-door showers, surround sound. Even for a firepit on the patio they’re not afraid to spend the money,” Mr. Bollin said.
John Jones, co-owner of Decker Building Co. of Lambertville said his company is starting a new 92-lot villa-style condominium subdivision in Bedford Township called Adler Estates, on the southeast corner of Adler and Clegg Roads, following the success of a similar project called Grey Estates.
“I think there are people out there looking, but I don’t think the inventory is very big in this area,” Mr. Jones said, because Adler Estates isn’t at the stage yet to meet the demand.
Contact Jon Chavez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6128.