Oct. 15—Decatur's new subdivision drought has ended, with more than two dozen homes under construction or completed in a pair of developments off Old River Road Southeast, and two of the houses are already occupied.
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Dustin McNutt, division president of Davidson Homes, said his company has started or completed all 19 single-family homes in Phase 1 of the River Road Estates subdivision. Fourteen of those are under contract and two others are inhabited.
Davidson is also planning to build 39 town homes as part of the first phase, but McNutt said work hasn't begin yet on this portion of the project.
Meanwhile, seven homes are under construction and 13 total lots have been sold at the neighboring subdivision, Old River Manor, that's being developed by Howard Morris, his son, Dennis, and his grandson, Peyton. Plans for this 19.75-acre subdivision include 58 single-family residential lots. The two subdivisions off Old River Road annexed into Decatur in late 2019 and are on the city's southeast edge, just west of Priceville.
"Within a couple of weeks, we'll have people living here," Howard Morris said of Old River Manor. "Right now, everything here is sold.
"We'd be going a lot faster if we could get the materials. We've been waiting like 16 weeks on windows. I've never had anything like that before."
Peyton Morris, the project manager, said they expect to finish the construction of two homes before the end of October and two more in November.
Tom Polk, development services manager for the city Building Department, said Decatur has issued 70 more building permits this year than it had at the same time in 2020, with most of the permits for new homes going to the two Old River Road subdivisions. Permits also have been sold for additions off the existing Greystone and Dunbarton subdivisions, he said.
"None of the other major (new) subdivisions have bought building permits yet," Polk said.
Brothers Charles and David Morris are developing River Road Estates and then selling the lots to Davidson to do the construction.
Davidson has a contract with the Morris brothers on Phase 2 in which it can start building as soon as the infrastructure is ready. Davidson will have 48 lots to build homes on in the second phase.
"We expect the lots for Phase 2 to be ready (for sale) as early as next month," Davidson's McNutt said.
Charles Morris said he's been impressed with how quickly Davidson moved on the construction.
"They're selling the homes as fast as they can build them," Charles Morris said. — 'Huge for Decatur'
The city struggled in the last two decades with a lack of growth and few new homes, but there has been a burst of preparation for new subdivisions, with plans made in the past 18 months for more than 600 homes.
Now the city has new homes coming onto the market, and people can start moving into them.
"It's huge for Decatur, especially when we had less than a month's worth of (homes for sale) in September," said Crystal Brown, president and chief executive officer of Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.
"I don't think they can build fast enough. Demand is only going to increase because this is a hot market," Brown continued.
Valley MLS shows Decatur had only 81 listings available Thursday, and homes stay on the market an average of 22 days.
Brown said the high number of new jobs is drawing people to north Alabama and they're buying homes. She said Decatur is also attracting many retirees and a mix of people from different demographics. — Prices rise
McNutt said the average sales price in River Road Estates is about $348,000 with home sizes ranging from 1,895 to 3,500 square feet. The average sales price is much more than initially planned because of labor and material costs, he said.
"We had to adjust our prices to reflect the increases," McNutt said. "We've also seen home prices increase in the last year and a half."
McNutt said the town homes will have three bedrooms and two baths and likely will be listed in the middle to upper $200,000 range.
Peyton Morris said the Old River Manor homes range from 1,800 to 4,000 square feet with listings between $295,000 and $400,000. He said the combination of labor and material costs with housing demand pushed the prices higher than the $200,000 range that was initially discussed.
"Decatur is definitely ready for more new homes," Peyton Morris said.
Brown said average prices went from $176,000 in August 2020 to $210,000 in August "and we'll be well over $210,000" in coming months in median home values.
"With prices staying at the same price point, that will help property values," Brown said.
— firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.