Housing starts rising in Portland Metro area

Housing starts rising in Portland Metro area

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by Joe Smith, KGW business reporter

kgw.com

Posted on March 11, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 12 at 9:41 AM

PORTLAND -- Housing construction continues to increase in the Portland Metro area.

Sales started to pick up last year for home builders after several years of sitting on the sidelines. But while construction increases, the number of qualified workers has been getting harder to find.

During the great recession, some 2.2 million construction workers left the profession. Now business has begun improving, but many of those workers still aren't coming back.

That translates into longer time periods for building new homes. In the West, that means about 23 percent longer, or an average of four months.

Renaissance Homes specializes in vintage homes in Portland, building about 100 a year. Their homes are built to order, something the market hasn't seen for a very long time.

The added workload with fewer workers also means they are commanding higher wages.

“Guys are getting paid more, because they're in demand,” said Randy Sebastian, president of Renaissance Homes. “They're being recruited, wages are going up, materials are going up. That means we have to start charging more for our homes. Values are going up. So it's the upward swing again.”

Home starts across the country are up 24 percent over a year ago.

The shortage of qualified workers is expected to continue for the next several years, according to the National Home Builders Association.

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