Dewayne Vaughn of Boise says hes grateful to have a steady, local job as a framer. But its a long way from where he thought he would be at 55. By now he expected to be heading his own construction firm.
I should be at the point in my life where I could pick and choose (jobs), but Im forced to keep moving forward. Its just survival, Vaughn said. Thank God Im physically fit. But the day is coming.
A few months ago, Vaughn signed on as a framing subcontractor for CBH Homes, the Treasure Valleys largest builder of entry-level houses. CBH and other builders are getting busier as demand grows. Ada County building permits for single-family homes increased 78 percent to 1,076 in the first six months of the year from 605 in the same period in 2011, according to the Ada County Development Services.
These are good signs that our local economy and housing market are starting to recover from the recession, said Meg Leatherman, the departments director.
The housing sector was hit harder than most when the recession began in 2007. One in two local workers lost their jobs. Now CBH and other firms are hiring, restoring jobs for people like Vaughn.
The Meridian company is adding construction management staff and sales professionals. Homes built by CBH this year number more than 120 over the amount built during the same period in 2011, owner Corey Barton said.
In the first six months of this year, median Ada County home sales prices rose 13.2 percent, and the number of homes purchased rose 9.4 percent, said the countys assessors office.
Property values were on the decline for the past several years, said Tim Tallman, chief deputy assessor. But now that we are seeing a significant increase in activity, hopefully we will see property values follow.
Barton thinks the recovery is here to stay. The real estate market bottomed out sometime in 2011 as sales picked up, and inventory has shrunk in 2012, Barton said. Confidence is good.
Others are less sure. Don Hubble, owner of Hubble Homes, is happy that his sales are up more than 300 percent from last year. Hubble expects to sell about 300 homes this year compared with 68 in 2011. He credits the rebound to increased local employment and a still-growing local population.
But home prices are still below normal and mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, he said.
What I dont know for sure if that trend will continue or if it is a bubble, Hubble said. If new jobs will continue, that will help us create our own local economy.
Vaughn owned a home-building business at the height of the building boom seven years ago. But the market for the large, expensive homes he built dried up in 2006 and helped force him into foreclosure and bankruptcy, he said. From 2007 to this year, Vaughn said he took any job roofing, fencing, framing, siding, remodeling, building additions in and out of state. Even then there were several weeks at a time he had nothing.
Wages also took a dive to about $15 per hour for an experienced workman compared with $20 to $25 an hour several years ago, he said.
Vaughn lacks his new employers confidence. He worries about having enough money to retire.
Do I think were out of the woods? No, I dont, he said. I dont see it being over. We have the elections and nobody to vote for. Personally I think the countrys been driven into the ground. I hope Im wrong and things get better. But I dont see it.
Sandra Forester: 377-6464, Twitter: @IDS_Sandra