Montgomery County

New Homes Jump in Montgomery County in Denser, Town-Centric Ways

Townhomes and multi-unit building construction outpaced newly built detached homes in Montgomery County at the highest percentage ever, part of a trend that helped contribute to a 15-percent increase in overall residential construction in 2015.

Seven out of every 10 new homes built last year were attached or multi-family, according to a new housing analysis released by the county. Attached homes are generally townhomes while multi-family units are condominiums and apartments.

Affordability, lacking availability of land, and a growing interest among buyers in town center-type living are pushing the booming townhouse and condominium construction, Montgomery County’s section chief of planning Scott France said in an interview.

The report last week by the county planning commission showed 1,838 housing units were built last year, which were characterized as representing “an improving housing market and indicate a strengthening economy in the county."

The new housing stock jumped from 1,605 in 2014, and is an increase of more than 800 from the 1,016 new units that were built in 2012.

“It’s been awhile since the Great Recession, but it’s been a long while recovering from it,” France said. “What we’ve seen the last four or five years is a steady increase.”

He described the growing pace of townhome construction and sales “as a shift in the market and customer habit.”

He said home buyers look to Montgomery County for its parks and trails, restaurants and retail, but they are now looking for those things at closer proximity to their front door than previous decades when big lots and frequent driving were parts of suburban life taken for granted.

“We’ve seen people more open to denser construction and developers more willing to integrate residential into (mixed-use) areas,” France said.

Smaller residential footprints are also seen in the county’s detached housing construction. Detached homes are not necessarily getting smaller in size, but the plots of land area.

“Developers are trying to fit more housing on a plot of land. And people are more amenable to not having an acre or a half acre,” France said.

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