Sherman housing market remains strong despite COVID-19

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Sherman city officials are projecting a 25 percent increase in the number of residential construction permits issued in 2020.

Sherman is poised to continue a five-year trend of increasing new residential construction permits for 2020, with a the possibility of breaking the 300 permit mark by years end.

The news of the increase in the local housing market comes in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which negatively impacted many industries and businesses throughout the year.

"We are on track to perhaps hit 300 permits for the year," Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said. "If it isn't 300, it is going to be close. That would be a monumental increase in housing compared to historic trends."

During a meeting of the Sherman Economic Development Corp., city officials said the city has issued 223 permits as of the end of October, breaking the record set in 2019 with two months remaining in the year.

"In October 2019, we had already surpassed the full year of 2018 numbers," he said. "In October 2020, we have already surpassed the full year of 2019 numbers."

Based on the growth, during the meeting city officials projected that the city could see a nearly 25 percent increase in permits for residential housing. This comes despite a 66 percent decrease October 2020 when compared to one year prior.

Officials said that last October's numbers were an anomaly as a developer  requested many permits at once for construction in a new subdivision. However, 2020 numbers more accurately show the growth Sherman is experiencing.

"While that looks like a negative trend for October, there were nearly sixty permits last October," City Manager Robby Hefton said. 

City officials gave several explanations to why housing development would continue to thrive while many other businesses experienced difficulties due to the pandemic. 

"It really has been a curious development over the last six, seven, eight months. As other sectors of our city have struggled to adapt to the condition, for whatever reason, the housing development has not been phased," said.

Strauch said construction's immunity to the pandemic's impacts may simply be due to the overwhelming demand of the market for homes. Hefton noted that there has been an unmet demand for homes in Texoma for several years that may have helped buoy the industry through the economic hardship of COVID-19.

"There is no shortage of people wanting to move to Texas and no shortage of Texans wanting to move where housing is cheaper and quality of living is a bit better than down in the Metroplex," Strauch said.

Another possible explanation for the continued construction is the timing of projects, Strauch said. Many developments take years to fully come to fruition through construction, planning and financing.  

With construction already taking place, it would be difficult to fully stop development. Strauch added that if it was possible to stow development, the pandemic may already be over by the time the project has paused.

Strauch acknowledged that the effects from COVID-19 on construction may simply have been delayed. It is possible that there will be no projects ready to enter construction once the developments have been built out. However, he said this likely not the case.

"The feedback we are hearing from homebuilders is that isn't likely to happen," he said. "The feedback that the city is hearing is that they can't build these houses fast enough."

Hefton said the housing market may not fully be immune to the effects of COVID-19, as seen in construction prices increasing due to a limited supply of materials. However, the region is currently at a perfect position for growth, and these effects have been minimized.

"I think where we are seeing the impacts of COVID in construction is the cost," he said.