Builders constructed fewer than 600 homes and apartments across the North Coast last year, the lowest number in more than four decades.
And industry officials say the outlook will stay gloomy as long as foreclosure properties and distressed homes can be resold for less than the cost of building new houses.
“If there’s a second wave of foreclosures, it will push out a home-building recovery for another year,” said Keith Woods, chief executive officer for the North Coast Builders Exchange, a Santa Rosa trade group.
Woods believes the home construction industry has hit bottom, and he hopes to see some improvement by the latter part of this year. But he added that “nobody will be surprised” if the better times are delayed until 2011.
The slowdown has hit builders across the North Coast. In Sonoma County, builders pulled permits to construct 406 homes and apartment units last year, down 31 percent from 2008, according to the Construction Industry Research Board, an industry-funded research center in Burbank.
Construction dropped 21 percent in Mendocino County, which issued permits for 115 housing units, while plunging 62 percent in Lake County, which issued 55 housing permits. The counts for all three counties were the lowest since such records were first compiled in 1967.
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– Robert Digitale