The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

January 13, 2013

Enid experiencing a huge housing shortage

In 2011, new home construction suffered due to fears surrounding the departure of Continental Resources.

Residents thought a housing apocalypse was imminent.

“It had the same effect as when they start talking about base closures — everyone just goes into retreat mode,” said David Ritchie, a board member for Enid Metro Association of Realtors and Enid Homebuilders Association and owner of Chisholm Creek Development. “That’s like applying the brakes to home construction, and everything just skids to a halt. That’s what the Continental deal did as far as building single-family homes in Enid.”

Continental CEO and President Harold Hamm safeguarded Enid’s existing real estate market during the company’s relocation to Oklahoma City. Historically, Enid absorbs homes that come on the market.

But what about new homes? New housing starts still have taken time to resume normal levels after the Continental move.

In fact, Enid is experiencing a tremendous housing shortage, and new construction has still been slow. The recovery has been particularly slow for “spec homes,” or homes built on the speculation they’ll be purchased after construction.

“Since Continental’s announcement, there’s been almost no spec building — it’s been almost all custom — but hopefully that’s getting ready to come back,” Ritchie said.

About 10 new spec homes are expected to go on the market in Enid within the next 180 days.

While commercial construction in Enid outpaced five-year trends in 2012, residential construction declined to a five-year low. But local builders and Realtors have hope for a continued recovery from the 2011 slump.

Clark Edwards, owner of Edwards Custom Homes, said confidence is returning to the local homebuilders’ market. Thankfully, he expects 2013 to show continued increases in new housing starts in Enid.

Meanwhile, no permits were issued in 2012 for new apartments in the city, a sharp decline from 2011, when the $6 million, 102-unit Tuscana Apartments were built.

The 2012 residential figures do not account for the $3.65 million renovation of Clay Hall at Northern Oklahoma College. The historic dormitory building is being renovated by Construction Technologies LLC, and will become senior apartments after completion.

We seriously need new housing in Enid. Even after the economy cools, we will need more quality rental housing. This is especially true for the transient personnel stationed at Vance Air Force Base.

We also need more middle-range housing for the average citizens. Renters who can’t afford a half-million-dollar house — but don’t want to live in a dump — deserve more options.

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