The busiest year for local home construction since 2007 faded down the stretch, Pueblo Regional Building Department records show.
The 22 single-family home building permits issued last month in Pueblo County were down from from 30 in December 2017. It was the second time in three months that permit activity fell below the prior year's pace.
For the full year, 439 single-family permits were issued across the county, an increase of 22 percent. Before the weaker showing in the final quarter, permits were running about 33 percent higher than in 2017.
Pueblo West was the top choice of builders and new homebuyers with 269 home starts, or 61 percent of all permits, according to a monthly market report from SkyCreek Homes.
The city of Pueblo trailed with 119 home starts, or 27 percent, followed by St. Charles Mesa (23 starts, 7 percent) and Colorado City-Rye (20 starts, 6 percent). No other area of the county, including Beulah and the Hatchet Ranch subdivision, reported more than one of two starts.
The busiest builders were Sky Creek (57 homes), Premier (42), Domega (26), Adobe (16), Bitt Built and Hausman (14 each), Loveable (12), Drop Tine (11) and Legacy, Total Building Concepts and Cadre Development (10 each.)
The drop-off in building activity in the last months of the year stems in part from a leveling off in Pueblo's job growth and overall economy starting in 2017. Also, home construction has weakened nationally, according to industry reports.
Last year's 439 home starts in Pueblo County were the most since the 665 in 2007, the first year of the U.S. housing crash and subsequent recession. Prior to the economic downturn, Pueblo was averaging more than 1,000 home starts a year.