New home construction in Greater Cincinnati took its largest step in 2015 to returning to pre-recession levels.
But leaders of regional homebuilding groups said it may take a long time before these properties will help lift housing inventory levels.
"We're nowhere where we need to be in terms of inventory," Dan Dressman, executive director of Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati, said.
There were 2,245 single-family residential permits issued during 2015 in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties, up nearly 10 percent from a year ago, according to the association.
Liberty Township accounted for two of every five permits issued. Warren County communities accounted for another two in five permits.
Hamilton County, led by strong activity in the city of Cincinnati, showed the greatest overall increase in 2015. Permits issuances in the county rose 20.5 percent in 2015 compared to a year earlier.
Dressman said 2015 may have been the first year where there has been a double-digit increase since the recession ended in 2009.
"It has improved gradually over the last three years," he said.
Nationally, there was a 12 percent gain in housing units authorized by building permits in 2015 compared to a year earlier, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Dressman said it's clear new home construction has been a missing link in seeing a bigger resurgence in the housing market. Home values, depressed from the recession, are have been slow to rise in the last few years and mortgage lending has been slow to return, he said.
Homebuilders' ability to obtain pre-construction financing has been extremely difficult since the recession, but at least now, Dressman said that appears to be changing.