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New residential construction in Forth Worth is outpacing all other municipalities in the metro, according to a Dallas Morning News analysis of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data.

The city logged 5,053 new homebuilding permits in the first six months of the year, according to preliminary data from the federal agency. The majority of the permits — 2,763 — are for multifamily developments, which include apartment complexes as well as town homes, condos and duplexes.

"It’s been a very active market," said Jim Gaines, chief economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, real estate developers have filed for permits to build more than 67,000 housing units, during the first half of 2018.

Fort Worth’s housing market isn’t as constricted as Dallas’ — which only had 3,915 permits filed in through June despite its larger size — so it makes sense that the plurality of new construction will take place in Cowtown.

Along that vein, Dallas had far more multifamily permits filed — 3,125 — than single family, reflecting the difficulty of building homes in a market that’s facing increasing land and labor costs.

"The city of Dallas doesn’t get too many single-family starts, but you do get rebuilds. So much of the single family in the Dallas side (of the metroplex) is happening outside the city limits," Gaines said.

Hence the brisk permit numbers for both single and multi-family developments in small-but-growing suburbs and exurbs to the north and south of Dallas like Prosper, Celina, Midlothian and Frisco, the country’s fastest growing city, which tallied the third most permits through the first half of the year: 1,440.

Of course, the same constriction in the detached single-family home market in Dallas proper is also driving growth in rental units, of which Dallas is adding plenty.

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

McKinney, another high-growth city, looks a little different. Builders there filed 1,147 permits in 2018, but all but six were single-family.

Like many of the bedroom communities around Dallas and Fort Worth, it’s predominantly a single-family market, Gaines said — though there is demand for apartments there.

"Multifamily tends to go in clumps," he said. "What’ll happen is there’ll be one or two or three projects that have 150-200 units a piece. Once those are done, nobody will want to build because they’ll think the market is full. I’m guessing that for the first half of the year, people got nervous there were already too many apartments."

That said, some so-called bedroom communities are adding multifamily units at a level expected of larger urban centers — towns like Garland, Richardson, Grand Prairie and Farmer’s Branch all notched hundreds of multifamily permits this year.

"They were suburban communities 40 or 50 years ago, but now they’re exhibiting the concept of the suburban activity center replacing the traditional downtown. Some of these outlying areas have basically become cities unto themselves," Gaines said.

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