Signs of recovery have builders increasingly optimistic

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The Housing and Building Association expects that once the financial markets start to move upward, housing sales will quickly follow.

The Housing and Building Association expects that once the financial markets start to move upward, housing sales will quickly follow.

Could it finally be that area home builders might come out from under the economic black cloud that’s hovered over the industry since 2007?

Ralph Braden, president of the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association and vice president of Nor’Wood Development, thinks so.

Based on an NAHB economic forecast during a webcast last week, he said the experts think “we’ve hit bottom and will see some improvement this year. The signs are there that we’re heading in the right direction.”

The first steps in the return to a healthy new home market, however, include “working down current retail inventory” and getting building permit numbers up.

“Locally we’re beginning to see some increase in new home contracting – and building permits are starting to move up,” Braden said. “We had 48 starts for month last week – still off from last year, but up from the prior month.”

He sees pent-up homebuyer demand after a long Colorado winter.

“More households have been formed. If job creation picks up, we could see a good year in 2010 – and once the market starts to move, those who have held back on the sidelines will see it’s time to jump,” Braden said. “So far, the local HBA has not tracked sales that may be the result of the $8,000 first-time buyers’ stimulus incentive, but a poll of builder members is planned.”

In the meantime, the nationwide April increase in consumer confidence monitored by The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Survey seemed to support the NAHB’s renewed optimism.

“Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions improved moderately in April. Those claiming business conditions are ‘bad’ declined to 45.7 percent from 51 percent, while those claiming business conditions are ‘good’ increased to 7.6 percent from 6.9 percent,” the report said. “Consumers’ short-term outlook also improved significantly in April. Those anticipating business conditions will worsen over the next six months declined to 25.3 percent from 37.8 percent, while those expecting conditions to improve increased to 15.6 percent from 9.6 percent in March.”

The employment outlook also was considerably less pessimistic.

The percentage of consumers anticipating fewer jobs in the months ahead decreased from 41.6 percent to 33.6 percent, while those expecting more jobs increased from 7.3 percent to 13.9 percent.

The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes edged up from 7.8 percent to 8 percent.

Such a change in economic perception will help local home builders, Braden said.

“What our economists telling us is that a return to market normalcy will take a few years,” he said. “After months of downward trends and dismal indicators, however, anything in the right direction will be good.”

Synthes adds space

Synthes Ltd., a Swiss company with U.S. headquarters in Monument for more than 20 years, has leased 28,800 square feet of office/warehouse space at 1705 Jet Stream Drive from U.S. Business Centers LLC.

The company had stored its equipment at a distribution center on Centennial Boulevard but decided to move to the north-end building because of its proximity to Monument, and its higher ceilings and increased warehouse capacity, said Grubb & Ellis Quantum Commercial broker Andrew Madden who represented the tenant.

Steve Bach and Mike Helwege of Bach Real Estate Partners LLC represented the landlord.

Mapper opens new office

Towill Inc, a mapping company, has leased 2,880 square feet of industrial space at 1120 Elkton Drive.

Andrew Madden of Grubb & Ellis Quantum Commercial Group represented the owner, Elkton-Garden Park LLC. Mike Helwege of Bach Real Estate Partners represented the tenant.

Expanding company moves

Rocky Mountain Solar and Wind has leased 4,500 square feet of office/warehouse space at 1075 Ford St.

The company is moving from 3200 N. Nevada Ave.

The tenant was represented by Andrew Madden of Grubb & Ellis and the landlord, Warehouse Equities LLP, was represented by Danny Mientka of The Equity Group.

Madden said the tenant needed additional warehouse space for equipment related to the installation of the Fort Carson Solar Array.

Uptick after move

AFX Audio, a car audio and window tinting company owned by Mike Candelaria, has leased about 2,500 square feet of office/warehouse space at 2938 Janitell Road.

Andrew Madden represented the tenant, who he said had moved to the south location in anticipation of Fort Carson’s growth.

“As soon as he moved in, his business really jumped,” Madden said. “It’s interesting to see how real the economic affect of our military is on local business.”

John Rodgers of Peak Commercial Real Estate represented the landlord, Bates Leasing Co. Ltd.

Becky Hurley covers real estate for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.