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    Homebuilder permits up 37% year to date; here’s the Valley cities with the biggest gains

    New homebuilder permit data shows exactly how scary it was for homebuilders at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Homebuilder permits issued by Valley municipalities between January and April were up 37% over the same period in 2020, according to new data released by the Homebuilders Association of Central Arizona.

    While the data shows strong growth so far this year, it also gives a glimpse into how homebuilders put the brakes on construction plans while trying to get a feel for how the pandemic would affect their growth plans last year.

    Year-over-year permit comparisons are going to be sketchy for April and May because of the early effects of the pandemic, said Jim Daniel, president of RL Brown Housing Reports.

    Even so, municipalities issued 11,754 between January and April, up 37% from 8,591 during the same period last year, according to HACA’s latest permit data.

    One city — Coolidge — showed a whopping 890% increase between January and April 2020, issuing 307 permits so far this year, up from 31 permits during the same four months of 2020.

    In Coolidge, six of the active subdivisions have opened in the last 12 months, which accounts for the major increase in permit activity, Daniel said.

    Texas-based D.R. Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI) alone has permitted 402 homes from June 2020 to March 2021 at Heartland Ranch and Martin Valley in Coolidge, he said.

    D.R. Horton has been busy gobbling up land in Arizona, according to previous RL Brown Research.

    In 2020, D.R. Horton had 2,271 closings in the Phoenix market, which includes Maricopa and Pinal counties combined, and had another 640 closings in the Tucson market, Daniel said.

    Earlier this year, the nation’s largest homebuilder paid $5 million for 146 lots in north Marana — 40 miles south of Coolidge — after paying $2.4 million for 105 lots in that same area last fall.

    Casa Grande, which is about 15 miles from Coolidge, also showed strong permit activity, issuing 550 permits year-to-date, up 112% from 259 permits during the first four months of 2020.

    The city of Maricopa also showed strong growth year-to-date, with a 215% jump in permits. Between January and April, Maricopa issued 826 permits, up from 262 during the same period last year.

    The only city in metro Phoenix that showed more than a 100% increase in year-to-date permit activity was Avondale, which showed a 137% increase, issuing 287 permits year to date, up from 121 during the first four months of 2020.

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