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Tracy Frank, Published January 28 2010

F-M real estate market shows signs of stabilizing

Signs point to a stable Fargo-Moorhead real estate market, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead and the Fargo-Moorhead Area Association of Realtors.

While the total number of building permits, which include housing, commercial construction and remodeling, was down 2,402 permits in 2009 compared with 2008, the total number of permits for new homes was up three, marking the first increase in four years.

Single-family home construction increased 5 percent in 2009.

Terry Becker of Terry Becker Construction and president of the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead said the numbers are not high, but they’re still a good sign for the local market, which is doing a lot better than markets around the nation.

“It shows a little stabilization in the market, and we feel that the market has bottomed at this point,” he said.

Tyrone Leslie, owner and chief operating officer of Heritage Homes in Fargo, said his company grew

20 percent from 2008 to 2009.

“We are a conservative market,” Leslie said. “People are spending realistic money and getting a realistic product for it. Unfortunately, outside of our local area, they were paying big money for not such a big product.”

The number of new-home permits was down 51 in Fargo and 20 in Moorhead, but it was up one in Dilworth and 71 in West Fargo. Becker said West Fargo has more buildable lots ready.

Leslie said his company is getting more inquiries about building in Moorhead, so he expects to see permits rise there.

There was a 6 percent increase in total F-M home sales over 2008. These include existing homes and new construction.

“To have an increase like that coming off a slow year is wonderful for us,” said Peggy Isakson, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker First Realty and president of the association of Realtors.

In other parts of the nation, markets were down as much as 40 percent, she said.

F-M area permits were slow in the beginning of 2009 due to spring flooding, Becker said.

Local and federal tax incentives really helped encourage new home construction, he said.

“It’s a huge thing, not only in our area, but throughout the country to get things up and moving again,” he said. “With all of these incentives, we feel more than ever this is probably the best time to buy.”

Leslie said he is encouraged about 2010 and expects to see almost 38 percent growth.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526