Single-family-home permits in Lee County surged 25.7 percent in 2014 as the economy improved — but the year remained stressful for builders as labor, land and materials got pricier and oil’s sudden implosion remained a wild card. A total of 2,999 single-family permits were pulled by builders in the county’s municipalities, up from 2013’s 2,386. December had 76 permits in unincorporated Lee; 63 in Cape Coral; 42 in Fort Myers; 62 in Bonita Springs; one in Sanibel and none in Fort Myers Beach. Builders were generally pleased with the results. “The year ended on a very high note for us,” said Neal Communities regional president Michael Greenberg, whose company sells homes from Sarasota to Marco Island with five Lee County communities. “We were writing deals New Year’s Eve at 9 o’clock at night. That was kind of encouraging. We haven’t seen that for a long time.” Claudine Leger-Wetzel, marketing director of Naples-based Stock Development, said Stock closed on 546 homes in 2014, up 25.8 percent from 434 in 2013 with a 49.7 percent increase in sales dollar volume. Still, there are factors that could cause problems ahead for the industry here and around the country, said David Cobb, regional director in the Naples-Fort Myers area for Houston-based housing data provider Metrostudy, which tracks pricing and new-home construction. “Southwest Florida is bucking the national trend so far in that we did have double digit growth in housing statistics,” he said. “Remember … the national market is being somewhat constrained by the difficulties people have getting a loan. We have less of that in our market because of the people who are buying homes here.” The affluent baby boomers fueling much of the local new-home boom are generally paying cash, Cobb said. “Obviously, qualifying for a loan is a nonissue for those guys.” For the good times to continue, tough federal standards for home loans will have to be relaxed by regulators who currently are “holding the sword of Damocles over the bankers if they make a bad loan,” he said, referring to a Greek story about impending peril. Indications are that 2015 will be another strong year, Leger-Wetzel said. A 4,300-square-foot new home that Stock put up for sale for $3.6 million last week “already had three offers.”