This week, we put Brad Thomas, president of the Flagler Home Builders Association, on the spot.
Flagler County was among the hardest hit by the great recession. With an economy deeply rooted in home building, unemployment levels skyrocketed and home building and home ownership hit record lows. Recovering from the economic downturn, members of the Flagler Home Builders Association are cautiously optimistic about the future of their industry. This week, we put Brad Thomas, president of the Flagler Home Builders Association, on the spot.
How long have you been a home builder in Flagler County?
I've been a home builder in Flagler County for 20 years. My father brought our family here over 30 years ago to build homes; I followed in his footsteps.
Over those years, what trends have you seen in home building?
During that time, I've seen Flagler as the fastest growing county in the nation. Investors swooped in and thousands of homes were built. Then we endured the recession in 2008. Those times were trying but we persevered and are now seeing a sustainable market. Home building has been rising steadily over the past few years. There are less investors and people are building homes they can afford.
What trends have you seen in home building and home buying in Flagler County?
Since the recession of 2008, banks are lending responsibly and people are building homes they can afford.
What does the housing/real estate market look like for 2019 and 2020 as far as pulling permits?
So far, year-to-date 2019 permits issued in Flagler County are just short of 2018, but we are expecting things to even out by year end. For 2020, we are predicting numbers to continue at an even rate or a slow increase. As more businesses move into Flagler County, we will see more of an increase.
A few years ago, there were challenges in finding skilled labor after the recession. Is this still the case for homebuilders?
Yes, there is still a great shortage of skilled laborers, not only here but across the nation. We as an industry are working to break any stigmas of building. An 18-year-old can attend a trade school or apprentice and make more money than a bachelor's degree can earn you in today's economy.
What kind of businesses make up the FHBA?
Our members are a mix of anyone whose business is affected by local building. From builders to title and home insurance, technology companies and more.