Home construction sets record

Jared Tucker

What’s the best way to combat a nationwide economic downturn and a falling housing market? Build new homes and remodel existing ones, according to city and real estate personnel.

Portales Planning Director Sammy Standefer said Portales set an all-time record in the 2009-2010 fiscal year for new home construction and for additions and alterations to existing homes.

According to Standefer’s end-of-year report presented to city council at its meeting on Tuesday, Portales issued 57 new home construction permits and 148 addition/altercation permits between July 2009 and June 2010.

That’s an increase of 34 and 97 permits respectively, from the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

Standefer said the most common addition or alteration was bed and bathroom remodeling.

Standefer credits the new home permit increases to record enrollment at ENMU, and expansion of Cannon Air Force Base.

“I believe it’s both of those combined for Portales,” Standefer said.

Real Estate brokers in the area echoed Standefer’s conclusions, saying the construction increase is the direct effect of Cannon expansion.

“We are very fortunate. Our economy is a very stable economy which doesn’t depend on the national economy,” said Shawn Watson, a real estate agent for RE/MAX Realtors.

Watson said other contributing factors include people choosing Portales Schools to educate their children, and families that have been in the area for a while are finally deciding to buy a home and settle in Portales.

Standefer said there are many benefits when construction is up. Besides the revenue increase from permit fees, taxes and employers keeping people at work, he said, there’s also huge benefit when major companies look at Portales as a candidate to open up shop.

“If you can get your rooftop numbers up, then often times you’ll see the chain stores want to come into your area,” Standefer said.

Standefer and Watson both said they see the increase continuing for several years.

Standefer said he doesn’t see any sign of construction slowing down, while Watson said his brokerage has a three-to-five year plan in place.

“But were not getting ahead of ourselves,” Watson said.