Home permits soaring, planners retiring at city
Homebuilding is on the upswing in Santa Fe. From the beginning of October 2017 to late January 2018, building contractors obtained 102 permits for single-family homes in the City of Santa Fe. That’s a 67 percent increase over the same period a year ago. The change in Santa Fe County permits was much more modest, but was still significant: up 20 percent.
Of the 102 recently issued city permits, 32 were for the Pulte Homes subdivisions at Las Soleras. The median price for those projects is $308,500.
Two-thirds of the other city permits were acquired by three companies:
— 14 for MTV Enterprises in the Cielo Azul Subdivision on Via del Sol and Via del Cielo; with a median price of $215,000.
— 14 for Homewise on Paseo Corazon and Harrison Road — also south of Agua Fria Street, but on the east side of Siler Road; with a median price of $178,000.
— 10 for Next Generation Contracting in the Vistas Bonitas Subdivision just west of Ramirez Thomas Elementary School; with a median price of $161,000.
Reed Liming, director of the Long Range Planning Division in the city’s LandUse Department, said the boost in single-family permits is also dramatic if compared annually: 163 in 2016 and 245 last year, a 50 percent increase. Pulte began getting building permits in August 2016 and had 46 by the end of that year, then pulled 91 last year. Twilight Homes secured 20 permits in 2016 for CieloAzul and 43 last year.
Contractors are still hampered by tight loan rules. “It’s interesting to watch as we come out of this trough of the recession, howmuch of a lag there is between the supply of housing tightening up and new construction coming online,” Liming commented. “Pulte, a national builder, can get its capital, but I still hear anecdotally from people that money is tighter for construction for local buyers. And then what does that mean? Generally that means prices will continue to go up if new homes are not available because local builders are having a tough time getting the funding.
“Kim Shanahan [director of the local builder association and a member of the city’s Long-Range Planning Sub-Committee] and I were always trying to guesstimate how fast Pulte could build. I was thinking conservatively, but they just popped” starting in late 2016. “I believe we’ve issued more than 140 permits for homes out there. I’d love to know what percentage of those buyers are local. They got their master plan right before the economy crashed in 2008, so it took a while. before they got going.”
Liming, who has been with the city since 1995, is about to retire. So is senior planner Richard MacPherson, the Long Range Planning Division’s other staff member. In a meeting in late February, Shanahan was already lamenting the impending departures in the important planning office. “They’re both retiring at the same time,” he said, “which means there’s going to be zero institutional memory.”