But builders are saying the industry is starting to bounce back, a sign that the economy is slowly – but surely – recovering.
“It was real tough,” said Rich Van Tassel of Royal Oaks Building Group. “Peak to trough, 65 percent of the local market went away."
Van Tassel's company builds homes in the Triangle and Fayetteville. His workforce was nearly cut in half, from 26 employees in 2006 to a low of 14.
“It was horrible, and you really feel for the folks,” he said. “But we didn’t do it to them. The market did it to the collective us.”
With a solid foundation, Van Tassel streamlined the operation and has since rebuilt the business. He now has 31 salaried workers. Business, he says, is as strong as it's ever been.
He disagrees with those who say it's still a buyer’s market. He pointed to a house he’s building in Apex as an example.
“When we started in here, it was going for $350,000,” he said. “Now it’s going for about $380,000. So, we’ve had almost 10 percent appreciation in the two years we’ve been out here.”
Van Tassel said he just hopes the old adage continues to hold true: “If you build it, they will come.”
“It’s building the right things in the right location for the right price,” he said.
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