Davis, who has been building homes in the Rome area since 1971, said now is still a very good time to build because of low interest rates, low labor costs and dropping materials prices.
“It’s still hard for people to pull the trigger,” Davis said. “I do have one custom house that I’m building right now.”
Davis was developing the Arbors at Fair Oaks and Hampton Preserve subdivisions when the economy fell, and there has been little activity in either subdivision on the east side of Rome.
Hampton Preserve is a 300-acre planned community off Chulio Road with a large multi-use field, parks and a greenway system with more than a mile and a half of walking trails.
The initial phase involved approximately 69 single-family homes on 98 acres with lot sizes that range from just under 0.7 acres to almost 1.7 acres.
“Land values have not come up at all,’ Davis said. “The property taxes on the lots are probably more than what people are willing to give for them. It’s really tough on a developer.”
Davis said he’s been trying anything to keep some revenue coming in. He’s been doing some remodeling work and has gotten back into some commercial work.
Davis is not a stranger to commercial work. His Davis Commercial Contracting built schools, health care facilities and office buildings around the region almost exclusively from 1990-2002 before he decided to get back into residential development.
The 2,900-square-foot home he is building for a Texas couple in the Hampton Preserve is going up at a cost of approximately $100 per square foot whereas six years ago, the cost would have been closer to $125 per square foot. “The problem is existing holes are selling for 40-50 percent of what they should be valued at so we’re still a good bit above that,” Davis said.
Approximately two dozen lots in the Hampton Preserve have been sold. “About 10 were bought to build on but the economy went south so they’re just sitting on them right now,” Davis said.
He is encouraged that homes are starting to move again. “Eventually things will get back to normal but until the values get back up to where they are supposed to be, you can’t continue selling things for less than what it costs to produce it and that’s basically where we’ve been for the past four years.”