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Dave Olson, Published February 22 2013

F-M 2012 building permit numbers return to pre-recession territory

FARGO – Construction permits in 2012 in the Fargo-Moorhead area showed numbers not seen since before 2008, when the U.S. economy took a major downturn.

The value of all construction activity in the Dilworth, Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo area grew by $195 million in 2012, a 34 percent increase over 2011, a report released Friday by the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead shows.

The value of all housing construction went up 38 percent last year and the total number of housing starts went from 612 in 2011 to 945 in 2012, a 35 percent increase.

Single-family construction last year hit its highest level since 2005, with a total of 760 permits.

West Fargo more than doubled its permits, while Fargo and Dilworth saw 25 percent and 6 percent increases, respectively, in 2012.

Moorhead’s total housing starts dropped from 105 in 2011 to 87 in 2012, but the number of permits to build twinhomes, which is part of those numbers, doubled in 2012.

“This is the best overall report we have seen since before 2008, when the nation began experiencing an economic downturn, and the

F-M area was flooding continually,” said Darrick Guthmiller, HBA president.

Guthmiller said it is a favorable time to buy a home for a number of reasons, including:

• Local banks have money to lend and interest rates are low

• There are a wide variety of houses and developments in the area

• House values are steady locally

• Buying a home is still a good investment and remains the American dream.

The Home Builders Association released its report at the Fargodome, where vendors Friday morning were preparing for the opening of the 52nd annual Red River Valley Home & Garden Show, which began Friday afternoon and runs through Sunday evening.

Guthmiller said the fact the event was sold out from a vendor standpoint bodes well for the upcoming building season.

“We’re enthusiastic for 2013,” he said.

The Home Building Association has long supported the idea of a flood diversion project and Guthmiller repeated the group‘s support for long-term flood protection for the region.

“Every year we run the risk of having a shorter building season if it does flood,” he said. “That’s going to affect these numbers we report every year.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555