An Energy Boom Means a Robust Housing Market in Woodward

Oct 9, 2012

Yesterday Quinton Chandler took you to the front lines of Woodward Oklahoma’s housing market. And we heard from Woodward’s residents how floods of oil boomers are building new RV Parks and tying local hotels up for weeks at a time. Today, we look at the upside to Woodward’s new growth. And we’ll see what is being done to meet the challenge of housing so many people.

It’s back to the overflowing streets of Woodward, Oklahoma, where jobs are easily found but housing is scarce. But you know what they say, if you’re given lemons, build more houses.

“My name’s Ron Henager and I’m from around McKinney, TX but I’m a Woodward resident now so hopefully we’ve got enough stuff up here to keep us busy for the rest of my life.”

I met Ron by a muddy curbside in an out of the way neighborhood so new most of the houses are just wooden frames and concrete.

“We’ve got six that are closed right now. We’ve got 20 in this little neighborhood and then I’ve got four other houses that are going in different places in the city.”

Ron came to Woodward earlier this year to build houses for Prime Contractors. A local broker recruited Prime out of Oklahoma City to build as many homes as possible. Ron says his boss saw the town had a heavy demand and a ripe market full of opportunity.

“We’ve got people living in tents out here, because there’s no place to live.” “We’ve got a lot of young people this guy is 22 and his wife is 21 and they’re buying a $200,000 house. My first house was $6250.”

I tip toed around sprinklers and hopped over some mud to meet “the guy and his wife” Ron mentioned. Colton and Jacey were helping lay sod on a bare uneven patch of dirt that was their front yard.

“We moved up here about two months ago and we figured we’d be here for a while so we’d go ahead and purchase a home.” There’s nothing for rent. Yeah there’s really nothing for rent and just to buy, right now in the whole housing market its tight to get anything.”

“We got to looking at houses that were less expensive and they needed 20 to 30 thousand dollars worth of work in them so why not purchase a home that we’re not going to have to fix up. That’s really where we came up with the idea of purchasing a home like this.”

Colton told the truth when he said houses are hard to come by in Woodward but it isn’t because there’s nothing for sale. Brian Cook is manager of the local Coldwell Baker.

“We’re kind of steady sitting around 55 houses on the market the trend right now is prices are still going up on property. The house market is healthy. I mean we’re selling houses, but we could always use more.”

Brian says there has been a 10 – 15% increase in market prices mostly due to market demand and newer higher quality homes. The average selling price used to be $108,000 and today they’ll sell anywhere between 150 and 200,000. Not the best shake for someone looking to buy on a budget.

“If I had a $100,000 house two years ago that’s worth 125,000 why not ask 150,000 someone might pay it. It’s just part of the market, supply and demand.”

That high sales potential is probably how one of Brian’s brokers at Coldwell convinced Ron’s company Prime to get onboard. I mean it sounds like everyone wants a piece of this town.

“I talked with a coordinator this morning that’s looking to build some multi-family housing, apartments. We’ve had some calls from hotel/motel developers as well who are interested in the area.”

Let’s be realistic. Besides Prime contractors, Brian could only think of a couple other developers working in Woodward and building homes and hotels takes time.

Brian said himself, “Hotel-wise, those are just rumors, I don’t even know the true names of the hotels that are going up.”

Yeah, small town gossip isn’t the most reliable news source.

To add another grain of salt, since March, Prime Contractors have only finished six houses. Ron hopes to have the other twenty done by the end of the year, but after that the challenge will be getting land to build on.

“I know there’s plenty of land around and we’re working like I said with Coldwell banker. We’ve probably got another 60 to 100 lots in the works but right now there’s nothing that’s solidified.”

Before more houses can go up Coldwell has to secure empty lots for Prime. But Ron predicts they’ll be closing on a lot of homes as the year winds down. Thanks to higher incomes, houses will probably sell like crazy. CJ Montgomery, Woodward’s Chamber of Commerce president says since the energy boom people are dropping a lot of cash.

“Some folks look at retail sales as kind of an indicator of how your economy is doing. Woodward has exceeded $1 million dollars in retail sales tax receipts now for six months in a row.”

Between the heavy demand for houses and high sales levels Woodward is seeing good times. But the flood of people, will only last while there is enough oil and gas to pull from the ground.

“The oil and gas business is typically cyclical and it doesn’t peak forever.”

But CJ, hopes for Woodward’s sake this time the peaks will be longer and the market downturns will be shorter.