KB Home pulling out of area

Los Angeles-based homebuilder KB Home, which built this Foxbank Plantation home in Berkeley County, intends to wind down its Charleston operation during the next few months. The national home builder is the sixth-largest in the Charleston area.

A major national homebuilder has decided to fade slowly from the Charleston real estate market, a troubling move that could signal tough times ahead for the region's housing recovery.

KB Home executives have decided to stop buying tracts of land in the Charleston area.

The Los Angeles-based company will finish building homes on the few dozen cleared lots that remain in its three local neighborhoods, The Preserve at Charleston Park in North Charleston and Blackberry Creek and Waterside Landing in Summerville.

The company's design studio located in a North Charleston shopping center will close once construction is complete.

"It's market conditions," spokeswoman Cara Kane said. "We made a decision at this time not to invest in additional communities."

Company officials announced the decision to local employees on Wednesday, the same day that the National Association of Realtors said the pace of existing home sales fell to the lowest monthly rate since 1995.

A few employees will remain on staff as the company wraps up its operations. Kane would not disclose employee numbers, but she said some local workers were offered jobs at the company's North Carolina office.

The homebuilder's decision goes against a string of promising economic developments on Charleston's horizon, including a nearly 4,000-worker Boeing plant and $98 million wind turbine research facility.

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"We see some great things for the market, but we see the population growth based on Boeing (taking place) in the coming years," Kane said. "It's not an immediate impact on job growth."

She said the company will continue to monitor the region's economy.

KB Home consistently ranked as one of the region's largest national builders.

The company has built about 100 homes so far this year, and it also has completed homes in the Summer Glen, Tanner Plantation, Eagle Run, Wescott Plantation and Foxbank Plantation neighborhoods.