06/17/09 — New construction down while foreclosure rate remains steady

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New construction down while foreclosure rate remains steady

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on June 17, 2009 1:46 PM

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Glenn Speight, a skilled craftsman specializing in handcrafted stairways, works inside a home being built by Stone Construction Tuesday on Glenda's Drive.

New construction of residential and commercial buildings in Goldsboro and Wayne County has been down during the first five months of 2009.

Only seven new residential city building permits have been issued through May. A total of 123 permits were issued for new homes in the city limits during all of last year.

"Right now, there's no doubt that the economy has slowed the building down. Absolutely, 100 percent," city Inspections Director Ed Cianfarra said. "We have projects on the books, some good-sized projects. Again, with the banks in the conditions they are, it's a little bit harder to borrow money now, even for corporations."

Meanwhile, commercial construction has increased over last year, with 29 permits issued for new construction or renovations, compared to 23 issued during the same period last year.

"I think it's coming back a little bit, but I don't know how long it's going to take," Cianfarra said.

The summer and fall months are traditionally the busier seasons for construction, so building through the rest of the year could make up at least some of the difference, he said.

"The best weather we have is during the summer. I want to do most of my building during the summer, spring and fall months," Cianfarra said.

Residential construction in the county has taken a downturn this year as well. Last year, 268 residential construction permits were approved. So far this year, 72 permits for single-family detached homes and two for two-family homes have been approved. Seven permits were issued in January, 20 in February, 11 in March, 20 in April and 14 in May.

From January to the end of May, the county approved 32 new construction and addition permits for commercial structures. A total of 207 construction permits, including residential, commercial and addition-type work to existing structures have been issued so far by the county, said Wayne County Inspections Director Steven Stroud.

That's down from the 378 that had been issued by this time last year, he said, but Wayne County is still better off that some other counties in eastern North Carolina.

"I think we're doing a lot better than a lot of counties in our surrounding area," Stroud said.

Cumberland County is also doing fairly well, and the military bases -- Fort Bragg in Fayetteville and Seymour Johnson in Goldsboro -- might well have something to do with that.

"It seems like the bases are helping support a lot of construction in these areas," Stroud said.

The economy is probably to blame for the decrease, but Stroud said he is hopeful the trend will reverse this summer.

"I'm hoping, we have noticed in the past since about March, that it has picked up some. It seems now maybe it's leveled off a little bit," he said.

In another measure of the local real estate market, there has not been any significant change in the number of foreclosures over the past several months, said Cherry Ngamthonglor, an agent with Cardinal Point Real Estate, a firm that handles many foreclosed properties in the county.

"It is holding steady," she said.

More than 140 notices of foreclosure proceedings were filed with the Wayne County Clerk of Court's office between the first of January and June 8. The notices are the first step in the foreclosure process.

The bulk of the notices were filed in April, with 41 properties entering foreclosure proceedings in that month, while 30 owners were notified in May that they could lose their properties. Ten more notifications were filed within the first week of June.

Purchase of foreclosed homes has also been steady, Mrs. Ngamthonglor said.

"Most of the ones that we have, they seem to be fairly good deals, they go quickly," she said.

Real estate Web site realtytrac.com lists 131 bank-owned, foreclosed properties for sale in Goldsboro. Another 37 properties in the city are in the pre-foreclosure process, while 27 properties are scheduled to be sold at auction.

In February, 159 foreclosed properties were offered for sale in Goldsboro while 24 were in the pre-foreclosure process, according to the Web site.

Cardinal Point usually has about 30 to 35 foreclosed properties for sale at a time with more constantly in the pipeline. But the worst may be yet to come, Mrs. Ngamthonglor added.

"I think that may change. I think that it will steadily increase, it has definitely not peaked," she said.