1993 was the best year for Guilford's home building industry in at least five years.
Although new home construction dipped slightly in Guilford County last year, it was overall the best year for the industry in at least five years, said Bernard Helm, whose Rocky Mount firm tracks the market.
And the signs are there for an even better 1994.Helm, president of Market Opportunity Research Enterprises, based his observation largely on the surge in building permits issued during the year - 2,450 for 1993, up from 2,135 the year before. Building permits are a key barometer of future activity.
``That indicates a good amount of strength in the custom homes market, which is of especial good news for the small home builder,' Helm said.
His firm culls its figures from courthouse records.
Last year, builders closed on 1,448 single-family detached homes in the county. That was down from 1,469 the year before. Include condominium and townhouse closings in those figures, and construction dropped from 1,684 during 1992 to 1,597 last year.
Average selling price of a new single-family home in Guilford, meanwhile, was up more than $10,000 over 1992 - $137,371, from $127,237.
``The major part of that is the lumber cost,' Helm said.
Most popular price range in Guilford: $80,000 to $100,000.
``The price of a new home in Guilford County remains remarkably affordable when compared with the average new home in Wake County, which is $162,319,' Helm said. That's up from $150,998 in 1992.
Wake's most popular price range: $110,000 to $130,000.
Despite the price, home construction in Wake is booming.
``They sold 4,506 (new single family) homes in Wake (last year) compared to 1,448 in Guilford,' Helm said.
Wake's building boom is fed by high-paying, high-tech jobs concentrated in Research Triangle Park, he said.
Large builders from around the nation are starting to take notice. Many are seeking statistics from Helm, whose firm tracks the state's major housing markets.
``I'm sending numbers to a Canadian builder right now whose interested in coming into the Carolinas,' he said.
Builders are drawn, Helm said, by the state's growing reputation as a favorable location for business and retirement.