Sign of the times: Habitat for Humanity now 6th largest homebuilder in U.S.

From the AJC this evening:

Habitat for Humanity International is now the nation’s 6th largest homebuilder, according to Builder magazine, as its sales of homes in the United States grew from 4,993 in 2005 to 6,032 in 2010, a 17 percent increase.

Compare that to Atlanta’s Beazer Homes, which built about one-quarter of the homes in 2010 that it did five years ago. Beazer closed on 18,401 homes nationwide in 2005 and 4,233 homes last year, according to Builder magazine.

I have a great deal of respect for Habitat for Humanity, which sells houses to qualified buyers who make between 30% and 60% of the median local income. Those buyers are well-chosen — Habitat’s mortgage default rate is about 2.7% in the Atlanta metro area, according to the AJC, far below the current 11.5% default rate for all of Georgia.

I hope Habitat continues its work, but one has to wonder if the nonprofit’s new construction in some markets is negatively impacting prices and/or home starts (including multi-family starts) by private companies. Here in the Savannah area, it seems clear that large numbers of affordable and subsidized rental units built through public/private partnerships is adding to our overall housing inventory at a time of high vacancy rates, low household formation rates, slow sales, and falling prices.