Travis Turner and Harlie Deckert bought their first new home on Monday morning. But to do it, they had to spend months on a waiting list. Finally, they camped overnight in an east Odessa neighborhood with more than another dozen people who all wanted to buy lots.

A whirring drilling rig nearby kept them awake. And at one point someone suspecting a homeless camp called the police, Turner said.

“It rained a couple times on us out there,” Turner said. “But we got to meet all our neighbors.”

Turner, who works at a tow truck company, said he still feels lucky. After all, the couple was seeking a new home amid scarce supply in one of the country’s hottest housing markets.

At the Odessa Board of Realtors, Executive Vice President Connie Coots said she could not remember a time when the inventory of existing homes was so low, including during the peak of the last oil boom a few years ago.

In February, the trade group reported 1.5 months of housing inventory — a measure of market that estimates how long it would take all the listed homes to sell. That’s a third of what it was at the same time last year, which was already a tight market. A balanced housing market has about six months of inventory.

“New builds are just not keeping up with the demand,” Coots said. “If they are priced right, they are moving.”

Turner, Deckert and the other hopefuls Monday were vying for one of 25 lots where Permian Homes will build new houses this year.

The latest sales were for the second phase of the Enclave at Mission Ranch development, where homes start at about $230,000 and give buyers custom options. The buyers had sought one of 78 lots in the first phase, but those quickly sold out.

“In Midland or Odessa, we can’t build them fast enough,” Permian Homes President Greg Ferrel said. “It doesn’t matter the price point, or where it is, everything is selling. That’s just what the market’s doing. That’s what oil is doing.”

It’s been that way since late 2017.

“It just exploded,” Ferrel said. “And it hasn’t slowed down since.”

Permian Homes didn’t advertise the Monday sale, Ferrel said. Turner said the buyers were all on the waiting list and most learned of it by seeking updates from the company.

Turner and Deckert joined the waiting list about six months ago, which already had more than 100 other people on it. She started camping out Sunday afternoon, earlier than the couple planned, once she drove by and saw other prospective buyers had beaten them to it.

Today, Odessa has one of the strongest housing markets in the country, a recent study by the insurance company Nationwide that looked at factors such home sales, the mortgage market, job and wage growth, and demographics as people flock to the area showed.

“A lot of people who would like to buy homes either have to pay a lot more to get one, or they have to wait,” Nationwide Chief Economist David Berson said. “It’s just a lack of supply.”

That’s unlikely to change in the next year, as long as job growth and other indicators of a booming local economy remain, Berson said.

Turner said he and his fiancée should be able to move into their new $300,000 home around November and avoid the rent increase they would face if they renewed the lease at their Midland apartment.

“Getting to pick out exactly what we want, I feel like it’s a pretty good deal,” Turner said. “Especially with all the money to be made here, all the jobs — You are kind of in the middle of everything.”

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