By Cecil G. Brumley
In Volusia County in 2012, there were 657 new single-family houses started, up 28 percent from 513 in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Building Permits Survey.
An impressive gain, but nowhere near the number of new houses needed to boost employment and other economic sectors. The 2011 activity was the nadir of the new home market in Volusia. With foreclosures flooding the market, it was a tough time for homebuilders. How can you compete with three-bedroom, two-bath houses selling for $50,000?
But the foreclosures are quickly dissipating. While there are some areas of the county, such as Deltona, where foreclosure deals can easily be found, in other areas they are just about nonexistent. Much of what you'll find now, as far as cheaper deals, are foreclosed properties that the vultures have scarfed up. It's not really fair to call them vultures anymore, though. For them to be able to sell the houses, they have to spend a lot of money on renovations. That means they cost more and are actually helping to drive values up.
That gets us back to the homebuilders, who suddenly find they can profitably build and sell more houses. So, will the 2012 improvement continue? If January is any indicator, it will. Usually the slowest month of the year for new home starts, January has been busy in Volusia. At the end of the month, D.R. Horton pulled 22 permits in one day to start new houses in New Smyrna Beach and Port Orange. In 2012, there were only 37 permits issued. While ending in an unlucky number, 2013 looks like it may be the year the county's housing market keeps coming around.
The commercial real estate market has hit a lull. The only recent big deal was Orlando-based entity Hao & Han LLC buying the Hibachi Grill property at 301 E. International Speedway Blvd. in DeLand for about $1.1 million.
The Orange Leaf Yogurt chain will join Aspen Dental in the new strip center fronting Dunlawton Avenue at Altamira Village in Port Orange.
The Olive Garden in Orange City is getting remodeled as Darden Restaurants continues work on building a replacement Olive Garden in Daytona Beach as well as a Bahama Breeze. The Darden chain also owns Red Lobster.
O'Reilly Auto Parts will continue its growth in Volusia, planning a store at the proposed Nova Depot in Port Orange, just south of Herbert Street. O'Reilly has already opened a store in DeLand and has one planned in Daytona Beach. Springfield, Mo.-based O'Reilly recently opened in Tampa its 4,000th store.
Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business in Volusia County for 16 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.