Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
It’s Halloween season, so to steal a line from the popular movie “Poltergeist”; Their Back.
In the last two years, single family home construction has increased in Woodward and that is a good thing for a community where housing for a booming population can be hard to find, said Woodward City Manager Alan Riffel.
Since the Woodward tornado in May of 2012, 23 new homes have been completed and 11 homes have been rebuilt after being destroyed in the tornado, according to City of Woodward records.
“We have seen a considerable increase in single-family housing construction during the last two years, and, certainly, that’s positive for Woodward,” Riffel said. “Available housing has been an obvious need for a long time. This construction “boom” helps our local economy grow by creating local jobs and by providing more options for people seeking places to live.”
While the figures above account for new homes built, that doesn’t account for lots developed for people to build.
For instance, Woodward rancher, Clair Craighead has 14 lots on Quail Drive called Meadowlake, just off of 34th Street. The addition is prepared and has paved roads and all utilities already available for those who wish to build homes, he said.
“The housing market in Woodward is really good right now,” Craighead said. “Woodward is busting at the seams and there is no place to buy, no place to lease.”
County Commissioners Tommy Roedell and Vernie Matt also have recently individually provided openings for new construction on property they each own personally.
Matt’s addition, called Trail Ridge is located at Eighth Street and Hanks Trail. The idea for it came about when Matt and his wife purchased some property to build on themselves, but knew they had more than they needed.
Matt and his wife Melanie have developed a total of 13 lots other than what they built on and have successfully sold 8 of those for private development.
Of those 8, three homes have already been completed, he said.
“We found this acreage and we couldn’t afford to keep it all,” Matt said. “So we had it surveyed and turned it into individual lots and we sell the lots and the person who buys the lot builds their house on it.”
The building restriction for Trail Ridge is 2,500 square feet on the ground level, he said. And the structures have to be traditional construction homes.
Roedell is also new to the development business, but not so new to construction, since that was his professional background.
That’s why he decided to launch into home building on some lots he purchased from the Henry Hosier estate.
“I knew there was a housing shortage and I originally planned to do something at Mooreland,” Roedell said. “I had seen the Henry Hosier estate was having a land sale. This one in Woodward included the properties in the Highley Addition. That was all platted in the early 70s.”
His development offers more medium priced new housing in an area around Jackson Street. At present, he has just recently completed two new homes just under 1,500 square feet. Roedell said plans to begin on three more as soon as the two new ones have been sold.
“They are two full brick homes that are well insulated,” he said. “They have carpet and new vinyl wood flooring, three bedrooms and two baths.”
In still another housing addition called Red Cedar at 3300 22nd Street there have been 20 homes completed, according to City of Woodward records.
Still another development is being constructed near the south end of Woodward is called Southfork Addition. The addition features about 60 lots, some with completed utility and road infrastructure and other phases that are still in development.
Home building costs have increased in the last several years, said, Woodward Real Estate Agent Brian Cook.
On average, the lowest cost runs about $115 to $120 per square foot.
At present, there are 68 homes on the market in Woodward, according to Cook
“Of those 68 homes, 13 of them are existing homes under $100,000 and nine of them are over $250,000,” Cook said. “Also, of those 68 homes for sale, 15 of them are brand new homes in the $150,000 to $250,000 range.
“The Woodward market is super stable. I am on track for 2013 for the same sales numbers as I have had in 2011, 2012."
Even though those numbers point to an increase in available housing in Woodward, there does seem to be a lack of housing for those who can’t afford to spend over $100,000 on a home, Cook said.
“We are not like the metro area where you can look at 40 houses in your price range and find one that meets all your criteria,” he said.
That is why last spring, development began on West Woodward Addition, a housing addition that developed lots to allow approved manufactured housing as well as traditional construction, he said.
West Woodward Addition is located three miles west, one mile south and ½ a mile west of the intersection of 48th and Oklahoma.
While single family home development appears to be booming, Riffel is also hoping for someone to begin to consider more construction that addresses the need of affordable housing for those who are renting.
“Often the cost of this new construction doesn’t necessarily fit a price-point of what may be affordable housing for a large percentage of our population,” Riffel said. “So what we are still needing here is multi-family housing construction. New apartments or multi-plex units would fill a huge void in our market that could resolve a number of problems, such as rental opportunities for newcomers. I’m aware of developers potentially entering this market but no one has pulled the trigger on such projects yet.”
According to Cook, the rental market is so hot in Woodward that there might be some impetus for builders to consider construction of multi-family units, but they are probably not motivated to make them affordable.
"This is a supply and demand type market,” he said. “You might have someone build an apartment complex, but with the market the way it is with so many needing housing, they won’t want to deal with HUD or the government and the prices really won’t be that affordable.”
Indeed, at present, Briarwood Apartments one of Woodward’s largest complex that boasts 218 units has been 98 to 100 percent full for the last two years, said Property Manager Wendy Cooper.
Briarwood, owned by American Fidelity, figures its rental rates by using an averaging formula that considers the region and other factors, Cooper said.
“We are slightly lower than the average around here,” Cooper said. “Most one bedrooms are $445, our two bedrooms are $545 and our three bedrooms are $650, depending on the apartment.”
Cooper said she has been living in Woodward for 9 years and over the last several years has seen housing costs increase dramatically.
“I have encouraged American Fidelity to build another complex but they are concerned about the risk of the oil field declining,” Cooper said. “But at Briarwood, I have a very diverse community with everything from small business people here to wind farm people to some elderly people who have been here for the 30 years we have been here.”
At present, Cooper said she has two, two-bedroom apartments available.
“For the last two years, just about as soon as someone gives us notice they are moving, someone on the list is already waiting for that apartment,” she said.
Another needed type of construction could be minimal maintenance residential options, such as condominiums, said Woodward Realtor and co-owner of Design Realty Doug Eagon.
“There is almost a constant request by empty nesters and retirees for residential property that does not require a lot of lawn and yard maintenance,” Eagon said. “They have more extended absence because they tend to want to travel and that means they don’t want to worry about the yard. And there is just slim and none of that kind of housing around.”
While it might seem like a seller’s market in Woodward at present, Eagon said there are many new opportunities for buyers as well.
“There are lots of things that make Woodward a very positive environment now, even for the buyer,” Eagon said. “Two or more of the builders here are offering some of the up-front closing costs and that caries from $3,000 to $6,000 and that does help the new buyer not to have to have that much cash (up front).”
Eagon said interest rates, even on “in house” loans that local banks can participate in, are still reasonable for buyers today.
Eagon also agrees, there is an ever present need for multi-family housing such as affordable rental condominiums or apartments.
“We are a straight sales agency, but we do get a lot of calls and there is a high demand for that kind of affordable housing.”