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As availability of buildable lots diminshes in Prineville, developers have begun building more subdivisions

JASON CHANEY - Several new subdivisions expansions are breaking ground as focus shifts to adding more buildable lots.

The housing market in Crook County is still alive and thriving.

But a shift is taking place as the amount of lots on which homes can be built is diminishing, a situation that coincides with a continuing high demand for new homes and relatively low inventory of houses for sale.

"Ironically, as lumber prices came down, the actual building of homes kind of took a pause," explained Josh Smith, the city's planning director, whose department issues planning permits for residential structures. "We have a few subdivisions building out, finishing up … but the actual applications for new homes did drop."

While that is the case, Smith noted that the applications and development of new subdivisions has increased. Home building is slowing down, but building roads and installing infrastructure for new neighborhoods is on the rise.

Smith said that several existing subdivisions, such as Crystal Springs at the far east end of Prineville and the multi-phase IronHorse and Pahlisch subdivisions, are launching new phases. New roads are under construction and water and sewer pipes are going into the ground.

Meanwhile, the planning department staff has had conversations with other people who are looking at building larger developments on properties off North Main and near the Northridge subdivision.

"You are seeing a lot of that type of action," Smith said, "so it just kind of flipped to the development stage."

Smith attributes the shift to a diminishing quantity of available lots, ones that are available for builders to break ground. He acknowledged that a lot of vacant lots remain, particularly in the IronHorse development, but he noted that they are owned by multiple individuals who are choosing not to build at this time.

So, the shift to building infrastructure for new subdivisions is expected to provide builders more lots on which to construct homes, and once that work is complete, home building will likely bounce back.

"I think you are seeing the evolution of how development works," Smith said.

Because subdivision development has increased and home building has slowed, it seems to suggest that the housing market is still in good shape and remains as busy as it has been for the past couple of years. Smith points out that even though home prices and rental rates are still high, the demand for housing hasn't waned.

"There is still a high demand or people wouldn't be putting a lot of money into infrastructure," he said.

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