Single-family home permits are up 34 percent in Hernando County for the first nine months of the year.
The good news is tempered somewhat by continued frustrations by local builders who continue to deal with rising costs of building materials and the hassles of the appraisal process.
There were 119 single-family home permits from January through September 2012, compared to 89 during the same period in 2011.
It's a start, said Chris Glover, immediate past president of the Hernando Builders Association. But he admits there is a ways to go for local builders to get back on their feet.
Nationwide, housing starts and new-home permits posted big gains in September, reaching the highest level in more than four years, according to newly released figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Housing starts and permits were up 15 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively.
Glover said there is an uptick in new home construction in urbanized areas, including Hillsborough County.
Being in the outskirts, Hernando County will take awhile to catch up, he said.
Glover said the biggest impediment to new home construction still seems to be the lengthy appraisal process for new homebuyers.
He knows of one couple who signed a contract three-and-a-half months ago and is still waiting for bank approval.
"That still is the hardest part to overcome," he said. "I think it will start to improve as soon as the homes are built and get financed or more resale homes sell."
Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a news release that, while September's surge in activity is encouraging, "we need to remember that we still have a long way to go back to a fully functioning market."
"In order to get there, significant challenges must still be addressed in terms of credit availability and appraisal issues, as well as the increasing cost of building homes due to rising materials prices and a declining inventory of buildable lots," according to Rutenberg.