Comparing this year’s numbers to last year’s, it’s clear that the number of new houses being built in Cobb is trailing by nearly 14%. Unexpectedly, county officials are not terribly concerned about the downturn. Between September and January, 1,065 permits were issued for single-family dwellings in the county, but last year there were 1,233 permits issued during the same time period.
According to community development director Rob Hosack, “the reason we don’t have a lot of concern about it is simply because we have been issuing land disturbance permits for subdivisions and we’ve probably issued more of those this year than we did in 2013,” said Hosack, adding, “We’re issuing permits now for folks to actually knock down trees, grade roads and put more lots on the ground.”
One possible reason that 2013’s numbers were higher is because there were a lot of unfinished properties left over from the recession which were taken over by new developers and quickly completed. Hosack explains that the county, “had a pretty good inventory of vacant lots on the ground already, like the old pipe farms in 2013 and a lot of that inventory was getting ate up. Whereas in 2014 less of those lots were available and I think that’s a reason the data is a little bit … for the reduction.” He adds that “there’s a lot of dirt being moved around right now,” and remains optimistic that the housing starts will pick up by year’s end.
According to building permit activity reports from HBW,129 permits were issued in September in Cobb County, with 66 of them being built in unincorporated areas. Smyrna had 26 permits issued, but Acworth saw no construction activity that month. Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood reviewed the permits, and noted that they are down by 20%, saying, “I think there has been a general slowing this year in new home sales in general,” he said. “I just think that probably activity is down and new home sales are down somewhat in our community. I think that’s a national trend.” Like Hosack, Allegood is optimistic about his town’s new construction starts. “I don’t think we’ll be down 20 percent by the end of the year,” he says, “I think we’ll be even.”