As the OVID-19 pandemic pummels economies around the world, the Yorkville housing market has recorded its best year since 2017.
So far this year, Yorkville building safety and zoning department has issued or closed the file on 278 building permits for new homes, the largest amount in the last four years, according to data provided by the city's zoning office.
With low interest rates and a pandemic that has profoundly altered life in the big city, the housing growth has occurred across the Chicago suburbs.
The whole region saw a 40 percent increase in new home construction during the third quarter compared to last year, the highest since 2008, according to data from Tracy Cross Associates, Inc., a professional real estate consulting firm.
In Yorkville, four local subdivisions have dominated this year's new housing market.
The city has issued a total of 99 building permits for single family homes in the Raintree Village subdivision located off Route 71 on the city's south side, and 69 permits for new single family homes in Grande Reserve off Route 34 on the city's northwest side.
Two new subdivisions, Kendall Marketplace and Ashley Pointe, have followed with the third and fourth highest total permits issued, respectively.
"I see the charm and desire of wanting to be a part of a small town," said Lynn Dubajic, executive director of the Yorkville Economic Development Committee. "People are looking for a bigger home, a bigger yard. And if you try to do that in DuPage County, you're going to pay a lot more money than what you would have paid for the home in Kendall County."
How sustainable is the growth?
After the 2008 recession and housing crisis, Yorkville and other growing suburban municipalities sought to salvage a battered homebuilding market.
Yorkville enacted an incentive program between 2012 and 2018, matching developers $5,000 for single-family detached units. When the program ended, permits dipped sharply. In the last year of the incentive program, the city issued 255 new home permits. In 2019, the first year without the program, the city issued 174 permits.
But the pandemic has served to rocket the permit figures upward, and the city now has a record year without having to offer builders any incentives.
But how sustainable is this growth?
"It's not this mass exodus out of the city," said Erik Doersching, executive vice president and managing partner at Tracy Cross & Associates.
Many new home buyers would have left the city anyway in the coming years, Doersching added. Overall housing supply in the suburbs might also limit growth in the long-term.
"I don't see this huge continual increase," Doersching remarked. "You'll see it being up over previous years for sure, but nothing astronomical because the supply side of the equation will keep the numbers down."
Though with ample developable land, Yorkville and other Kendall County communities might not hit a ceiling on growth as quickly as neighboring, denser counties.
That leaves local officials working to attract retailers to serve growing populations during what has been an apocalyptic year for the retail industry.
For Dubajic, the city's top economic official, Yorkville still has the tools to attract top retail clientele, particularly in a possible post-COVID-19 world.
"People are yearning for a shopping experience, for a dining experience, for a traveling experience," Dubajic said. "As our numbers grow as far as residents, it puts us in a position that we can start to attract some of these retailers that are still staying in the game... The buzz is out there that Yorkville is a growing community and that's what people want to be a part of."
A big market for big homebuilding players
Yet in Yorkville, a handful of large companies control a vast swath of the housing market.
Just four companies - Lennar, Ryan Homes, DR Horton and Abby Properties - controlled 82 percent of Yorkville's market this year, according to city officials.
As growth induced by the pandemic lasts through the coming years, some small builders have been pushed out by larger, corporate firms.
Tim Greyer, a long-time home builder in the area, said that while his business picked-up during the pandemic, he'll likely leave the Yorkville area after next year due to shrinking numbers of available lots.
"The big guys have came in and taken over, which they have every right to do," Greyer said. "I don't see Yorkville having anything on the board for smaller builders like myself."