Construction of new homes surged in December to the highest level in 13 years, capping a year in which falling mortgage rates and a strong labor market helped lift the prospects of the housing industry. The Commerce Department reported Friday that builders started construction on 1.61 million homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in December, up 16.9% from the November pace of home building. Housing construction has been rising since July, helped by falling mortgage rates and increased demand as the unemployment rate approached a half-century low. For the year, builders started work on a total of 1.37 million homes, the best showing since 2007. The December building rate was the strongest number since December 2006 during the last housing boom.
2019 was the best year for North Texas home starts since the Great Recession. North Texas homebuilders hit the ground running with new construction in the final months of 2019, starting almost 22% more homes than a year before. Builders began work on almost 8,900 houses in October, November and December – the strongest fourth-quarter construction total in more than a decade, according to data from Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies Inc. "Lower mortgage rates energized the North Texas housing market in the second half of 2019," Residential Strategies principal Ted Wilson said in a new report. "Our builder clients reported unseasonably strong sales in the fourth quarter, many sharing that October and November were some of the strongest sales months of the year." The year-end construction blitz was enough to push D-FW home starts for the year to 35,884 units — up about 2% compared with 2018 to the highest level since the Great Recession. "Usually you get a pop in sales in the spring," Wilson said. "It was pretty dreary back then, and it wasn't until July when the rates declined [that] things started to improve. "It was a great third quarter and an even greater fourth quarter, and builders are going into the New Year with a lot of momentum."
Brace yourselves, North Texans. Following a decade of eye-popping population growth, Dallas-Fort Worth is expected in this decade to once again lead the nation's metro areas for the number of new residents. New data from commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield shows DFW gained 1,349,378 residents from 2010 through 2019. In terms of the number of new residents tallied during the past decade, DFW ranked first among U.S. metro areas, the data indicates.
From 2020 through 2029, DFW is projected to tack on another 1,393,623 residents, Cushman & Wakefield says. For the second decade in a row, that would be the highest number of new residents for any metro area, the company says. By comparison, the Oklahoma City metro area was home to nearly 1.4 million people in 2018.
As of July 2018, the Census Bureau estimated 7,539,711 people lived in DFW. Under the Cushman & Wakefield scenario, DFW's population would swell to about 9 million by the time the calendar flips to 2030.
Today, DFW is the fourth largest metro area in the U.S., behind New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The population of Chicago, the third largest metro area, barely budged from 2010 to 2018, according to the Census Bureau. Today, about 9.46 million people live in the Windy City and its suburbs. If the Chicago area's population growth remains relatively flat, DFW's headcount conceivably could surpass Chicago's in the not-too-distant future.
"The trend of corporate relocations to the Dallas-Fort Worth area isn't slowing down," Clay Vaughn, senior vice president of CBRE's tech and media practice in Dallas, said in a release. "The favorable business climate and available tech talent in Dallas has made it one of the top startup markets in the U.S., which further incentivizes companies to move to the area."