The number of permits issued for single home construction in Howard County rose 42 percent in the first four months of this year compared to 1991, according to the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments.
Between January and April, 256 permits were issued; 180 were issued in the same period last year.
"New homes sales suffered especially during 1991 because it's a move-up market and people couldn't sell their existing homes to move into a new home," said Earl Armiger, president of Orchard Development Co. and the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. "There were no buyers to sell to."
"For many years, this county has had a large number of people coming in to occupy these buildings, so it's possible that an increase in population is associated with these statistics," said David Cook, a planning technician for the county. Howard County's population of 202,000 rose by about 10,600 last year.
"Nowadays, they won't start building until there's a sure sign that it will be bought," Cook said.
The statistics also showed a drop in construction of multifamily units this year. No permits were issued in the first four months of the year, compared to 196 units last year (all in a single apartment complex).
"What's causing nothing for multifamily units in this period of time is that we've run out of land zoned in Howard County to accommodate or build any more apartments," said Joe Rutter, director of the county planning and zoning department.
The lack of land and the difficulty in finding investors will result in a significant decrease of apartment building in the years to come, Armiger said.
"I don't think we're going to see much construction of apartments this year," Armiger said. "It's almost impossible to find financing for apartment construction these days, there are no investors and so banks become skittish too."
But Rutter said that plans for more construction in eastern Howard County that could be initiated this fall, could provide some additional opportunities for multifamily units, he said.
"As far as the rate of development, we're right on target from the last couple of years."