New home permits fall, but have ‘leveled out’

A NEFBA officer says he would rather see steady growth than a rush of new permitting.

  • By Dan Macdonald
  • | 12:00 a.m. January 31, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Real Estate
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There were almost 2,000 fewer permits pulled in 2023 for single-family homes in Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties than the year before, according to the Northeast Florida Builders Association data.

In 2022, 13,802 permits were issued in the four counties compared with 11,821 in 2023.

That is a 14% year-to-year drop but 2023 started 35% lower than 2022, said NEFBA Executive Officer Jessie Spradley.

“That was one of our best years,” he said of 2022.

“We leveled out over the year. We are still down from 2022, but if we look at 2018, our last normal year, we are up 12%.”

Talking to builders, Spradley found that in 2023 the market began returning to normal with soft sales in the first quarter and increased business in the second and third quarters before slowing again as the holidays approached.

Construction delays because of the rising cost of lumber or a shortage of materials, like windows and garage doors, have subsided, he said.

Material shortages could return if demand for new housing increases rapidly with lower inflation and interest rates, Spradley said.

“If you see another explosion of permit data, those same conditions could see lumber prices going back up. We’re hoping for a steady controlled growth of permits so that building can happen without the price of single-family homes skyrocketing.”

Another factor may throttle the number of permits that will be pulled in 2024, Spradley said. 

There is a national shortage of skilled laborers. As of September 2023, the industry’s labor force was short 430,000 workers. 

“There’s still a huge labor issue in the construction industry nationally,” he said.

St. Johns County had 5,173 permits; Duval, 4,193; Clay, 1,316; and Nassau, 1,139, for 2023.

Overall, the third quarter had the most permits pulled with 3,488 followed by the second quarter, 3,230; fourth, 2,719; and the first with 2,384.

Last year was the seventh-best year since 2001. 

In the record year of 2005, there were 17,753 permits issued.

The second-best year was 2021, with 16,138 permits, and the third was 2022 with 13,802.

The three years before the 2008 Great Recession rank in the top five.

There was a 12-year lull from 2007 through 2018 when permitting didn’t break the 10,000 mark. 

From 2009-11 an annual average of 3,336 permits were issued.



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