H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Feb 26, 2013 8:38 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

New home sales up nearly 16% across the country, including locally

Perhaps a sign of the times, new homes are popping up all across the country, and selling, including right here on the Central Coast. The US Department of Commerce announced on Tuesday, new home sales rose nearly 16-percent last month from December. It is now at the highest level since July 2008.

Steady job creation, and near record-low mortgage rates are the reasons why the federal government said more Americans are able to buy houses today.

"They're working on it, it's getting there," said Orcutt resident Greg Amaral.

Amaral has lived in the newly developed Rice Ranch community in Orcutt for over two years. He said he was excited to see construction worker out on site at Rice Ranch on Tuesday, making homes and helping the economy.

He said, "There hasn't been hardly any building. There's been some, and they eventually put five more houses here, next to us, so it's doing a lot better now."

Empty lots at Lavigna Homes in Santa Maria, don't even have homes on them yet, but they have already sold out. The City of Santa Maria said 14 new Lavigna Homes received building permits in December, a great sign of the economy.

General Manager of Trilogy at Shea Homes, Preston Holdner, said on Tuesday, "We're bringing out new homes, new floor-plans, and new price points, which are very exciting."

More sales, means more work for construction workers and developers like Holdner.

"It is a perfect time to re-launch Rice Ranch," said Holdner.

Holdner said his company plans on building over 600 homes at Rice Ranch over the course of nearly six years. The company broke ground this week, and expects to have it's sales office open on March 23rd. It said it will be accepting applications for homes starting on that day as well. Holdner said homes will range from $300,000 to $600,000.

The federal government said new home sales were at a record-low in 2011.

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