Nation's Building News Online: January 24, 2011

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Builders Urged to Register Credit Availability Problems on New FDIC Hotline and Website

To help small business firms address their difficulties in obtaining credit, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) has announced the creation of a new hotline and website that enable small business owners — including builders — to register specific issues or problems they may be having with credit availability.

Ending the severe acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) credit crunch that has cut off the flow of credit for housing production remains NAHB’s top priority. This new development presents a unique opportunity for association members to weigh in directly with the FDIC to discuss any business constraints they are facing as a result of the scarcity of credit for housing.

“Any home builder, developer or associate who is unable to obtain financing, is having a hard time with an outstanding AD&C loan or feels that they have been treated unfairly by their lending institution should alert the FDIC either through the hotline or their website,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen.

The FDIC decided to provide the new resources after recently hosting a symposium to examine the credit problems that small businesses are facing.

Calling 1-855-334-2249 will patch NAHB members through to the FDIC’s hotline, where they can discuss their specific situation.

Callers should be aware that they will be talking to a live FDIC representative, so they should have all relevant information at hand. The hotline is operational Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.

NAHB members can also fill out a business assistance form at www.fdic.gov/smallbusiness by clicking on the Business Assistance Form at the bottom of the page. This allows users to fill in information and provide details about lending or credit problems they are having with a specific bank or financial institution.

“Strong member participation is vital to raise greater awareness of the AD&C credit problems builders are facing and to find constructive solutions that will restore the flow of credit to our industry," said Nielsen. “So once again, I urge any NAHB members who are experiencing lending problems to weigh in with the FDIC today.”

"Association leaders have been doing everything they can to bring this critically important issue to the attention of the FDIC and other regulators," he added. "It's now time for the FDIC to hear directly from the individuals who are seeing their businesses suffer from today's severe shortage of housing credit."

NAHB Board Focuses on Urgent Need to Restore Lending to Builders

With NAHB members continuing to face severe business constraints from the scarcity of credit for housing, the association’s board of directors at its Jan. 14 meeting in Orlando focused on the urgency of restoring the flow of acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) loans.

“Alleviating a crippling drought of AD&C lending remains our top priority,” builder Bob Nielsen, who was elected chairman of NAHB at the conclusion of the board meeting, told his fellow directors. “Reports from the field indicate that we need to resolve this critical issue as quickly as we can, before we see the shuttering of more home building businesses and further weakening of the anemic housing recovery we hope to get underway.”

Economists attending the meeting noted that the AD&C credit crisis is persisting even in parts of the country whose markets are returning to normal and are poised for recovery. Even where the viability of existing and proposed housing projects can be well demonstrated, they noted, the credit crunch is taking a heavy toll, particularly among the smaller builders who are the mainstay of the industry.

NAHB has been fanning out to address this difficult issue on every possible front — including legislative, regulatory, legal and the media. In the meantime, with the lending window shut at the banks that are the traditional source of AD&C credit, NAHB has been mustering its resources to direct members to less conventional sources of finance — including investment partners.

NAHB Members Meet Potential Finance Sources

During the board meeting, which took place in conjunction with the Jan. 12-15 International Builders’ Show (IBS), there were more than 200 meetings at the Finance Forum, an ongoing NAHB initiative designed to match builder members with financing sources. 

This exclusive networking opportunity was first launched at the 2010 IBS in Las Vegas and is available online free of charge to association members at www.nahb.org/FinanceForum. It provides NAHB builder and developer members the opportunity to discuss their projects and funding needs with representatives from financial institutions and non-traditional funding sources. 

“The NAHB Finance Pavilion is just one of many strategies we are advancing to help members find the credit they need to move forward with new or existing projects,” said NAHB CEO Jerry Howard.

Among the 200 educational programs offered at the IBS, builders also heard from experts in various seminars on how to persevere until the current situation improves. Builders were told to expect significantly different market conditions from those of the years leading up to the downturn, and they were told that the healing process will be notably slow. However, housing demand will intensify as households and the U.S. population resume growth at a healthy pace, with construction activity hitting its full stride in a couple of years.

Major banks and traditional lenders, they were told, remain under the sharp scrutiny of the regulators and may not currently be reliable sources of financing for new residential projects. That may force smaller builders with viable plans to look beyond traditional sources of credit to investors, partners and even family and friends.

Meetings in Washington

In the meantime, the association is also gearing up for the full-scale effort that will be needed to reconstitute the nation’s housing finance system — with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in conservatorship and with government initiatives and programs responsible for the vast majority of credit currently available to home buyers.

In recent weeks, NAHB leadership and key staff met with the staff of the President’s National Economic Council to discuss builder financing and the future of the housing finance system.

Discussions also took place with top officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. that focused on the future capacity of community banks to lend to builders.

NAHB Housing Finance staff met recently with their counterparts at the American Bankers Association to discuss possible joint efforts to address the AD&C credit crisis and problems with appraisals that undervalue new homes.

As the 112th Congress gets under way, NAHB is reaching out to both sides of the political aisle to seek additional solutions to the current lending crisis and urge lawmakers to call on federal banking regulators to reduce regulatory restrictions on AD&C credit and rein in overzealous bank examiners.

Builders Tell Their Stories

This will be a top issue during this year’s annual Legislative Conference, which will take place on Wednesday, March 16. Builders are encouraged to travel to the nation’s capital and urge their representatives and senators to support policies that will open up the lines of credit for new housing production, stabilize home values, mitigate foreclosures, bolster consumer confidence and get the economy moving forward. More details on the meeting can be found at nahb.org/legcon.

Reaching out to the media on AD&C, various members of NAHB’s senior leadership have conducted interviews with news organizations recently, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Fox Business and Bloomberg.

Reporters are particularly interested in hearing from builders who are willing to tell their story and explain how the credit crunch is killing projects, slowing business and keeping them from hiring more workers.

These case studies provide essential support for NAHB's efforts to improve the availability of AD&C credit and curb regulatory excesses that are contributing to the severe credit crunch — not only in the media but also in association meetings with key policy makers in Congress, the Administration and the bank regulatory agencies.

NAHB members can click here to share their stories. NAHB will obtain a member’s permission prior to sharing any of the case study information that is provided.

Making Headway on Appraisals

On a closely related issue, NAHB is vigorously pursuing solutions to problems with appraisals, particularly the inappropriate use of foreclosed and distressed properties as comparables, which has negatively affected home values and remains an obstacle to the recovery of the housing market.

To help find constructive solutions to appraisal problems, NAHB last month hosted its third “Appraisal Summit” with federal regulatory agencies and the major housing and financial stakeholder and appraisal organizations. (For a related story in the Dec. 20 issue of NBN, click here.

During the summit, NAHB discussed communication with appraisers and the importance of giving all parties involved in an appraisal, including the builder, the opportunity to provide relevant information during the valuation process.

Another important area of discussion was appraiser education and qualification requirements, particularly for valuing new homes. NAHB has established a working group to develop new construction qualifications and educational requirements, and representatives of the appraisal industry said during the recent summit that they would welcome assistance from NAHB on curriculum updates.

One of the issues that the summit participants discussed at length was the Interim Final Rule on Appraisals that the Federal Reserve released in October. This rule, which focuses on appraiser independence, was mandated under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The rule makes it clear that home builders and others can ask an appraiser to consider additional information about a property, including information about additional comparable properties.

NAHB is generally pleased with the Fed’s interim final rule, and will be working with the central bank and other stakeholders to see that it reflects the association’s critical concerns.

In the weeks and months ahead, NAHB will continue working with all stakeholders involved in the AD&C and appraisal issues to restore the flow of credit to housing and enact concrete reforms to ensure that appraisals accurately reflect true market values.

Housing Activity Moving to Higher Ground in 2011

Housing will see gradual improvements in activity this year as the nation’s economy and job market continue to move to higher ground, establishing momentum that will produce more considerable gains in 2012, according to economists who appeared at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando on Jan. 12.

“This year’s spring selling season will be better than last year’s,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, with job growth providing a stronger stimulus in the housing market than last year’s tax credits for home buyers.

Crowe forecasted 575,000 single-family home starts in 2011, a 21% climb over an estimated 475,000 units started in 2010, which in turn showed a 7% gain from the 442,000 homes started in 2009.

Multifamily, which is poised to profit from a disproportionate number of Gen Y members moving into the housing market, has seen the bottom of the cycle, he said, and will see its starts rise 16% this year to 133,000 units, with a further 53% increase in 2012 to 203,000 units.

Builders’ access to the credit they need to start new homes remains the fragile component of the NAHB forecast, Crowe said. So far, small builders have experienced extreme difficulty in obtaining financing, and rectifying the situation as soon as possible is the top priority of the association.

More encouraging is a rebound in the confidence of consumers, who mid-2010 “froze in place, faced with a lot of uncertainty,” he said. A recent pickup in durable purchases for such items as automobiles and furniture indicates that consumers are less afraid today of losing jobs and income.

The recession delayed as many as two million household formations over the past few years, he added, as individuals doubled up with family and friends to weather a dismal job market. These households will begin to form as jobs improve, and they “are the next to move into a new home or apartment.” The economy should be adding a “solid” 200,000 jobs monthly in 2012, he said.

The U.S. economy will receive a boost from the massive tax package enacted at the end of last year, he said, including more income going into the pockets of wage earners thanks to a one-year 2% reduction in Social Security taxes. This will contribute to the gross domestic product strengthening from the 2.5% range to 3.5% to 3.8% by year’s end.

Also putting consumers in better shape to return to the housing market, the household debt burden has declined to 12% of disposable income and the savings rate has dropped to 5% following the higher savings that occurred during the recession — both marking a return to the more normal levels of the 1990s.

New-home sales, Crowe projected, “will struggle” but begin following employment gains, reaching 405,000 for the year, up from an estimate of about 320,000 for 2010.

The housing recovery will start up slowly this year, he said, because it will be driven by such relatively low housing production states as North Dakota and the Plains States, with Texas the most powerful of the bunch. Traditional bulwarks of housing activity such as California and Florida, on the other hand, will not be among the states whose housing markets recover the fastest.

In addition to stimulative fiscal and monetary policy, Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said that housing affordability and demographic trends will help support growing housing demand.

Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages dipped to 4.25% in the final quarter of 2010, he said, the lowest level since the early 1950s. While that has since moved up closer to 5%, home financing is still available at “a phenomenal rate,” according to Nothaft.

Also, citing research from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, Nothaft said that households should be growing at an average annual rate of 1.2 million to 1.5 million over the next five to 10 years, suggesting the need for a sharp increase in housing production; half of the 500,000 to 600,000 starts of the past two years were needed just to replace the number of homes being removed from the housing stock.

While there will continue to be supply overhangs in some important large markets, by and large the housing price slump should bottom out by the middle of this year, he said, and price increases are already occurring in some local areas. That should attract prospective buyers who have been procrastinating until they see prices hit bottom.

“Potential buyers who have resources to buy but want to buy at the bottom are likely to start coming into the market in the springtime,” he said.

Fixed-rate mortgages will move up from their current 4.75% to the 5.75% range by the end of this year, he forecasted. This will push total single-family mortgage originations down about 30% below the 2010 level as refinancings fall sharply in the face of rising mortgage rates.

While a 20% increase in housing production in 2011 is good news for housing, to put things in perspective, Nothaft said that this gain is from an extremely low level, with single-family production declining about 80% from peak to trough.

A builder who was starting 50 homes a year at the peak of the cycle in 2005 built only 10 homes in 2009 and 2010, he said. “A 20% increase means you build 12 homes in 2011.”

Lack of ADC Money Is Builders’ Chief Worry

The New American Home, the centerpiece of NAHB’s annual convention, died on the vine at last year’s show in Las Vegas because the construction lender pulled out midway through the project. That didn’t happen this year, not because construction financing is flowing again, but because the buyers already owned the three lots on which the gargantuan 9,700-square-foot showstopper sits. If anything, builders complain, financing is even harder to obtain than it was a year ago. “We had a number of builders who wanted to build The New American Home but they couldn’t get funding,” said building industry consultant William Nolan, vice chairman of The New American Home Task Force. “The only reason it got built at all is because we already had a buyer.” And so it is that the inability to obtain and hold on to financing to buy land, turn it into building lots and build houses has become the single most important issue facing the nation’s home builders. Construction financing isn’t an issue for high-production builders. For the most part, the big publicly traded industry giants get their funding from the capital markets. But it is a “big deal” for the small- and medium-sized builders who tend to rely on local community banks for their money and make up the majority of the NAHB membership. And it’s not just about no longer qualifying for financing on otherwise viable projects. It’s also about hanging on to loans they already have, according to numerous builders, who say lenders are unnecessarily calling loans due and forcing them into foreclosure. (www.nationalmortgagenews.com)
National Mortgage News (1/17/11); Lew Sichelman

Builders May Need to Learn New Ways to Pitch Projects to Financiers

Rick Mandell, a consultant with Aspen Portfolio Strategies Inc., urged builders at the NAHB International Builders’ Show to connect with sources of private institutional capital to get homes built. His message: Private builders need to learn how to pitch their projects to financiers as if they were traditional investments with promised internal rates of return and healthy profit margins. In other words, builders should go to hedge funds, private-equity firms, university endowments and state pension funds for construction loans. Most private builders learned their trade in an industry where small and regional banks made construction loans based on existing market demand and on the quality of the location of the project. In the future, says Mandell, private institutional investors will replace those small banks, and they will care more about projected returns. “The builders have to look at a deal on the basis of an unleveraged yield,” he says. “If you’re an institutional investor, you can either put your money in stocks, or buildings or housing, and say, what kind of return am I going to get?” (www.wsj.com)
Wall Street Journal (1/12/11) Robbie Whelan

Are Metro Home Values Too Low?

Detroit-area real estate agents say up to 40% of their deals have unraveled in the past year as stringent laws regulating home appraisals have made it tougher for home owners to get the dollar amount needed to sell. Appraisals, many of them inflated during the market boom, have fallen to Earth. While appraisers argue that guidelines passed in 2009 protect home buyers and lenders by giving them a realistic value for the home, Realtors® and home owners say the appraisals are too conservative. This further depresses the housing market because most buyers are not able to put up the extra cash if there is a huge gap between what they offer for the house and what it’s appraised for — and sellers don’t want to lower the asking price if the appraisal comes in low. “As far as what is holding our market back, it’s the appraisal issue. It can be a value death spiral,” said Dan Elsea, president of brokerage services for Real Estate One in Southfield. Realtor® and home builders associations say appraisers should be familiar with the neighborhoods they are evaluating. They’ve also lobbied that appraisers and those involved in the deal have all the information necessary to assign a value to the home. (www.freep.com)
Detroit Free Press (1/16/11); Greta Guest

Spec Builders Test the Waters

As the high end of the Westchester, N.Y., market shows tentative signs of rallying and the inventory of houses for sale is finally being absorbed, a handful of “spec” builders are re-entering the field — though more cautiously than during the real estate boom. “In the past, I would have built four spec houses at a shot,” said Joe Simone, the owner of Simone Development in New Rochelle, who in boom times built multimillion-dollar mansions snapped up by sports figures and others with deep pockets. “Today, maybe I’ll do two, and not as elaborate.” “Things aren’t as high-flying as they once were,” he added. “I got out during the meltdown, and now I’m coming back in a different economy and with a different approach.” A developer of residential and commercial properties, he expects to break ground this spring on two houses in Purchase, one on 1.51 acres, the other on 3.8, each selling for about $3.8 million. By contrast, in 2005 Simone built estate-style houses on speculation in Bedford, each on four to five acres, that started at $3 million and went as high as $7 million. Part of the caution stems from the difficulty in securing financing. With banks risk-averse, hedge-fund types and other private investors have begun to fill the void, said David Turner, a sales agent for Houlihan Lawrence in Bedford. “The downturn in the market eliminated some of the builders who didn’t belong in it in the first place, who weren’t experienced enough,” Turner said. “And it is now influencing how the newest group of new spec builders is getting financed.” David Crowe, chief economist for NAHB, described spec builders as “generally the little guys who don’t build very many homes a year.” Especially for them, he said, “financing is no small issue. We see some of these builders coming back now, but usually only in areas where the housing market has begun to improve.” (www.nytimes.com)
New York Times (1/16/11); Elsa Brenner

Upgrades on Foreclosed Homes Helps Improve Neighborhoods

A small number of new home owners are benefiting from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which helps to buy, renovate and sell foreclosed, abandoned homes. Experts say the program is meant to help combat the blight of empty, deteriorating homes that can drag down a neighborhood’s property values. The effort has been slow to take off since Congress approved funding in 2008. And critics say the number of homes salvaged is paltry compared with the number of problems. For example: In Lake County, Ill., where Waukegan is located, 20 homes are set to be renovated. But the county saw more than 11,000 default filings in 2010, according to RealtyTrac. As a result, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that it will provide technical assistance to speed the process. A study by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy found that foreclosed properties can lower nearby property values and tax revenues and can lead to vandalism and break-ins. The center recommended targeting transitional neighborhoods, where one or two restored homes will have more impact, rather than severely distressed areas. Since the program was launched, Congress has allocated $7 billion, some of it through President Obama’s economic stimulus package. (www.washingtonpost.com)
Washington Post (1/22/11); Robert McCoppin

Lower Interest Deduction Better for Deficit

According to new estimates compiled by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the mortgage interest deduction is not quite as big a hole in the federal budget as previously estimated. In fact, $88 billion less in revenue loss is now projected over the next three fiscal years than the committee estimated early in 2010. There is less interest to deduct because home values are down, meaning smaller mortgage amounts, and interest rates have hit half-century record lows. The committee’s new projections have turned up other intriguing and previously unreported facts about key tax benefits for home buyers and owners. For example, the popular tax-credit programs in 2008 and 2009 for home buyers are now morphing into revenue-raisers to the tune of $6.5 billion from 2011 through 2013. Two factors are at work: The first credit was for $7,500, or 10% of the house price. But it was more of an interest-free loan than a typical credit. Under the terms of the program, buyers are required to make annual repayment installments of 6 2/3% of the credit they claimed over the next 15 years, and they’re beginning to do so. The two subsequent credits programs — $8,000 for first-time purchasers and $6,500 for repeat buyers — did not require repayments but they came with strict rules that experts think will add to revenue the IRS collects from 2011 through 2013. For instance, Congress required that credits be repaid if the owners do not continually use their house as a principal residence for 36 months after the purchase. Say you took the $8,000 credit on your 2009 federal tax filing, but then decided to sell the house or turn it into a rental investment. You owe the government $8,000 the day you make that move. (www.washingtonpost.com)
Washington Post (1/21/11); Kenneth R. Harney

Housing Starts Decline, Building Permits Rise in December

Nationwide housing starts declined 4.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 529,000 units in the final month of 2010, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department on Jan. 19.

While this was the slowest pace of starts activity since October 2009, the year-end data indicated that production of new homes improved 6.1% in 2010 from the previous year. On another positive note, permit issuance for construction of new homes and apartments rose 16.7% in December to a rate of 635,000 units, the strongest pace since March of 2010.

"The latest government report indicates that builders are preparing for an anticipated improvement in buyer demand in the spring buying season by pulling more permits in hopes of soon replenishing the very tight inventory of new homes for sale," said Bob Nielsen, chairman of NAHB and a home builder from Reno, Nev.

"However, it remains to be seen if the availability of financing for new construction and existing viable projects will improve in order to make building feasible and facilitate a housing and economic recovery," Nielsen said.

"Today's report is consistent with what home builders have been telling us in our recent surveys," noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "While builders remain extremely cautious about new construction at this time, they are looking forward to putting their employees back to work as economic conditions improve over the new year — assuming they can obtain the necessary financing for new-home production. To date, however, any improvement in the market for acquisition, development and construction lending has been minimal at best."

Crowe also noted that December's permit numbers may have received a partial boost from building code changes that were expected to go into effect in several states this January.

December’s softening in housing starts stemmed entirely from a 9.0% decline in single-family production to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000 units. Meanwhile, multifamily housing starts, which tend to display greater volatility on a month-to-month basis, climbed 17.9% to a 112,000-unit pace.

Regionally, the West was the bright spot in the housing starts report for December, posting a 45.8% rebound from an exceptionally slow period in the previous two months. Meanwhile, the Northeast, Midwest and South all saw declines, of 24.7%, 38.4% and 2.2%, respectively.

Building permits, which can be an indicator of future building activity, saw encouraging gains in December in both the single-family and multifamily sectors. Single-family permits rose 5.5% to a 440,000-unit rate, their best pace since April of 2010, while multifamily permits leapt 53.5% to 195,000 units, their best pace since January of 2009.

Permits rose by substantial margins in three of the four regions of the country in December, with gains of 80.6%, 3.3% and 43.9% registered in the Northeast, Midwest and West, respectively. The South recorded a decline of 7.6%.



Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/follow-us/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.

Builder Confidence Remains Unchanged in January

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes held unchanged at a relatively low level of 16 for a third consecutive month in January, according to the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which was released on Jan. 18.

"As we emerge from the traditionally slow holiday season, builders continue to look for signs of improvement in the economy, home buyer demand and builder and consumer credit conditions," said 2011 NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. "Unfortunately, a severe lack of construction financing, and widespread difficulties in obtaining accurate appraisal values, continue to limit builders' ability to prepare for anticipated improvements in buyer demand in 2011."

"The HMI and its subcomponent indexes are holding steady following a below-expectations finish in 2010," noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

"At this point, housing remains on the sidelines of a weak economic recovery as consumers and builders wait for clear and consistent indications that jobs and economic output are reviving,” Crowe said. “Meanwhile, the problems that builders continue to confront in obtaining production financing, and in maintaining performing lines of credit, threaten to significantly slow the onset of a housing recovery."

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales, sales expectations for the next six months and the traffic of prospective buyers. Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

While the HMI components gauging current sales conditions and sales expectations for the next six months both held steady from the previous month, at 16 and 25, respectively, the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers edged up a single point to 12 in January.

HMI scores rose by one point in the Midwest and four points in the West in January, to 14 and 15, respectively. Meanwhile, the HMI fell two points in the Northeast and one point in the South, to 20 and 17, respectively.



Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/follow-us/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.

Eye on the Economy: Inflation Ticks Up, But Remains Moderate; Jobs Advance Slowly

December economic data are now being released. Housing continues to see ups and downs, with December single-family starts down but multifamily starts up. Nonetheless, 2010, though not stellar, was better than 2009, with total starts up 6.1% for the year. Both consumer and producer prices were sent a bit higher by a rise in energy prices. While rents increased more slowly than overall consumer prices, building materials prices rose more rapidly. Payroll employment advanced, though not by as much as was hoped. Residential construction employment fell, but by a relatively small number. December’s decline in the unemployment rate was not as positive an indicator as it would seem at first glance.

The Latest Postings

Eye on the Economy is a bi-weekly digest of the latest economic and housing policy news, analysis and studies as posted on NAHB’s free Eye on Housing blog. The preceding is a reissue of his Jan.20 edition. To subscribe to Eye on the Economy, click here.



Subscribe to the Free Eye on Housing Blog

For in-depth analysis of the latest housing statistics and research from the federal government, NAHB and other sources, Eye on the Economy readers are encouraged to visit Eye on Housing at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com/follow-us/.

They can also subscribe to the blog’s free RSS feed, which will automatically alert them to every new posting.

Useful Links to Monitor Economic and Housing Trends

The following are links to useful information from government agencies and NAHB that will enable you to monitor the housing market.

To access the latest information available, simply click the links.



Visit NAHB’s Eye on Housing Blog for the Latest Economics and Housing Policy News and Analysis

Housing and economics followers can get the latest economics and housing policy news, analysis, studies, charts and graphs from NAHB’s free, new Eye on Housing blog at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com.

Featuring NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, as well as observations and comments from NAHB economists Bernie Markstein, Paul Emrath, Robert Dietz, Peter Grist and Robert Denk, the blog also includes links to relevant housing stories and information from other news sources.

Readers can either visit the free blog directly at http://eyeonhousing.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the RSS feed on the blog to have the latest entries sent to them as they are posted.



Want to Know Your State’s Starts Forecast for 2011?

Find out in HousingEconomic.com’s State Starts Forecast (sample).

The forecasts include downloadable Excel tables of total, single-family and multifamily starts by region and state.

To learn more, visit www.housingeconomics.com.

Mood Is Brighter Among Attendees at This Year's Builders' Show

With the housing industry slowly, cautiously climbing out of its worst downturn in memory, vendors on the exhibit floor at the Jan. 12-15 NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Orlando reported the mood among the more than 47,000 home builders, remodelers, product manufacturers and other industry professionals in attendance was noticeably brighter than at the previous year’s show in Las Vegas.

“There’s optimism,” said Tom Ktsanes, district sales manager for Velux, manufacturers of tubular daylighting devices. “The green movement is still going strong, there’s more interest in solar hot water heater and daylighting products.”

Harsh weather in the rest of the country delayed or even cancelled a number of Orlando-bound flights, leading to lighter attendance on Wednesday, Jan. 12, when the show opened, but the next day’s numbers were stronger, said David Perozzi, marketing manager for Schalge. “We were busy all day on Thursday. It was a really good show,” he said.

On Saturday, Stan and Bertha Gillies of S & B Home  Builders in  Dadeville, Ala., were touring the four modular homes constructed in the parking lot of the Orange County Convention Center just outside the exhibit hall. They said they enjoyed seeing the new products on display, especially a new granite veneer for countertops and stair tread replacements. “We’ve enjoyed meeting all the vendors. It’s very beneficial,” Stan Gillies said.

In addition to commemorating sustainable construction by holding the fourth annual Green Day, this year’s IBS celebrated universal design, offered plan review workshops, partnered builders with lenders and included 224 educational sessions.

More than 1,130 exhibitors displayed their products and services at this year’s show, and many of them are already making plans to return to Orlando for the IBS next February. Toby Texer, southeast representative for Empire Comfort Systems, said his visitors were particularly interested in the display of high-efficiency direct-vent gas fireplaces — and the company is already thinking about its exhibits for next year.

Texer was encouraged by the NAHB economic outlook, which forecasted a 21% increase in new single-family home construction this year.

 

Builders’ Tip: Fabricate a Portable Cordless-drill Charging Station So You’ve Always Got the Juice

 
Click for larger image.

I sometimes forgot to bring the chargers for my battery-operated power tools to a job site. You only have to run out of juice once to know this can be a problem.

But rather than occasionally repeat the problem, I decided to solve it by building a portable charging station/tool tote that I can take to the site every day.

As shown in the accompanying drawing, I made it using a lidded plastic tote box, available for less than $10 at any big-box store.

This is how I made it:

  • I measured the bottom of the box and cut a piece of scrap 3/4-inch plywood slightly smaller than the bottom.

  • I then selected three of my most commonly used chargers and fit them on the board — mounting them through their mounting holes or using ties as needed.

  • I also mounted a multi-outlet strip to the board and drilled a hole through the tote box for the cord.

  • Then, based on the height of my tallest battery, I cut supports to accommodate a second level to store my drills and then glued and screwed the supports to the bottom scrap of plywood.

  • Then I measured and cut a piece of 1/2-inch plywood for the second level, drilled some finger holes, rounded over the edges and sanded it.

I now carry the whole box with me to the job site fully confident in knowing that when I bring my box of battery-operated drills, I have my chargers with me, too.

Also, when I’m not on a job site, I keep my portable charging station/tool tote in a handy place in my shop so I can use it daily.

— Tom O’Brien, New Milford, Conn.

Tips & Techniques provided by Fine Homebuilding.
©2010 The Taunton Press

To contact Fine Homebuilding, e-mail Christina Glennon.



Get NAHB BuilderBooks 2010 Virtual Publications Catalog Online

The NAHB 2010 Publications Catalog from NAHB BuilderBooks is available online.

Presented in a virtual format as part of the NAHB BuilderBooks effort to go green and streamline delivery, the catalog includes publications and products to help building industry professionals ramp up for a successful year as the industry and the economy begin to recover.

The materials in the catalog, written by industry leaders in various fields of residential construction, feature publications and products about accounting, estimating, business management, green building, sales and marketing, safety, construction codes, 50+ housing, multifamily housing, construction management remodeling and more.

Some of the newest publications in the catalog include “Social Media for Home Builders,” the “National Green Building Standard Commentary” and “Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company, Second Edition.”

To view the virtual catalog, click here.

Rental Apartment Building Still at a Trickle as Demand Rises and Supply Tightens

In the face of rapidly improving demand for apartment rentals in many parts of the country, multifamily developers are increasingly optimistic about their business prospects as the economy continues to recover, according to panelists at the recent NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

Unfortunately, lenders still don’t see it that way and continue to deprive multifamily builders and developers from the credit they need to break ground on projects that will be badly needed by the time they are completed.

With a few years needed to move buildings through the pipeline from the time they are proposed to when they are completed, it is already too late to prevent tightening in many markets, where double-digit rent increases will be the likely result.

“Although we are forecasting construction of 133,000 new multifamily residences in 2011,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, “that is far short of the 250,000 to 300,000 units that would be required to keep supply and demand in balance.”

Also, he said, “we have yet to make up for the insufficient number of new apartments that should have been built over the last two years. The capital needed to finance that construction is just not available to apartment developers.”

Trailing the downturn in single-family production, multifamily starts in buildings with two units or more toppled from 284,000 units in 2008 to 112,000 in 2009 and 114,000 last year, hitting a low seasonally adjusted annual rate of 76,000 in the fourth quarter of 2009.

After a 16% increase in multifamily production in 2011, NAHB is forecasting a considerably more substantial 53% gain to 203,000 units in 2012. But even then, the new supply will fall significantly short of the rental apartments expected to be needed over the longer term.

“In 2010, we didn’t produce enough multifamily to replace what we lost,” said Crowe.

Multifamily developer Bill McLaughlin, executive vice president of the Avalon Bay Company, a Real Estate Investment Trust headquartered in Washington, D.C., also said he sees demand for apartments on the upswing and also cited “a woefully inadequate supply” of new rentals coming out of 2009 and 2010.

McLaughlin noted that the impact of the ongoing period of sub-par multifamily production will have an especially pronounced effect on traditionally supply-constrained areas of the country.

“Demand pressures are building and rent increases are taking hold,” McLaughlin said, with the markets approaching double-digit rent hikes comparable to those occurring in 1992-1993 that resulted in people relocating to less expensive areas.

In locations such as Boston, Washington, D.C., and the West Coast, he warned, there is a longer pipeline. “If we break ground today, delivery won’t be until 2012-2013. Looking at breaking ground in 2013, delivery will be n 2015.”

Noting that private development firms have borne the brunt of the constrained supply of capital, Jay Jacobson, national partner for acquisition and investment for Wood Partners, Boca Raton, Fla., said, “The market is telling firms to build and acquire, but capital is still extremely difficult to find.”

With “lease-ups on new construction ahead of projected paces,” Jacobson said, rent increases are up 4% in many markets, and “some are trending to 7% to 8%.”

Wood Partners' properties in Miami are now seeing occupancy rates hitting 98%, pushing yearly rent increases to 5% to 7%, and concessions for signing a lease are gone. He cited one building with more than 300 units filling up at a pace of 60 apartments a month.

For many, “it is impossible to buy a home and it is darn near impossible to get a mortgage these days,” Jacobson said. And there is a “huge” population of 18- to 24-year-olds poised to form households and enter the housing market as renters.

“This is about the perfect storm for the apartment business,” he said, but he voiced trepidation about the ability of these prospective renters to be able to afford housing without substantial improvement in unemployment levels, which have hit the young disproportionately hard.

“If they can’t get jobs, they can’t pay rent, can’t form households and can’t move away from their parents’ homes,” Jacobson said.

With financing constraining activity, Jacobson said that his company — which is private but 51% institutionally owned — has been concentrating its efforts on cleaning up its balance sheets. It started 2,000 units last year and expects to start 4,000 units in 2011.

Private equity, participating debt and insurance companies are making up for some of the shortfall. The traditional multifamily lenders “aren’t back,” he said, and 90% of the bank deals involve smaller regional or local banks. “Traditional banks are not back in business yet.”

Even affordable rental housing is feeling the pressure.

“Affordable housing, which is primarily driven by the Low-Income Housing Tax credit program, is rebounding,” said Robert Greer, president of Michaels Development Company, in Marlton, N.J., which develops and manages affordable rental communities throughout the country.

“Investors are slowly coming back into the market, and deals are getting done, which is good news,” Greer said. “But the bad news is that given the depth of the current recession, more people than ever need affordable housing, and the demand far outstrips the supply.”

When his company opens a 100-unit development, he said, it can expect to receive about 800 applications.

For more information, e-mail Ann Marie Moriarty at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8350.

Greer Named to Lead NAHB Housing Credit Group

Robert Greer has been named 2011 chair of the NAHB Housing Credit Group (HCG), an organization focused on the development of affordable, multifamily rental housing through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. The announcement was made on Jan. 10 at the NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Orlando.

Greer is the president of Michaels Development Company in Marlton, N. J., and is a member of the Home Builders Association of Bucks and Montgomery Counties in Horsham, Penn.

Michaels Development Company was one of the first private development companies to participate in the LIHTC program and is the nation’s largest owner of LIHTC communities. Since its founding in 1973, the company has raised more than $240 million in tax credit equity, and introduced market-rate-quality housing to low-income families across the country.

This is the second time that Greer, a long-time NAHB member, has been tapped to chair this important group, which serves as the voice of private, for-profit tax credit developers. Among its members, HGC includes owners, investors, syndicators and lenders, as well as attorneys and accountants.

“I am honored to have an opportunity to lead the NAHB Housing Credit Group and work collaboratively with peers and industry professionals to keep the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program a priority on Capitol Hill,” Greer said. “We intend to maintain a strong presence within NAHB’s advocacy team and promote the benefits of affordable housing to the public at large.”

As chairman, Greer intends to help educate Congress on the positive impact of the LIHTC program on local communities to ensure that issues of relevance to tax credit developers across the country will be included in the national political agenda.

Remodeling Set to Recover This Year From Most Serious Downturn on Record

Remodeling will be moving into recovery in 2011 following a three-year slump and its most serious downturn since the government began tracking industry activity in the early 1960s, according to economists at the recent NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, said that a new report from the Joint Center two years in the making indicates that the remodeling industry is set for a new decade of growth.

In the meantime, remodeling has declined roughly 15% from its cyclical peak of $326 billion in 2007 to a trough of an estimated $277 billion in 2010, Baker said. However, the sector fared significantly better than residential construction, which suffered a decline of more than 75%.

As a result, improvement and repair expenditures moved up last year to command an estimated 70% share of total residential investment, which, in addition to remodeling, includes single-family and multifamily construction. In the decade or so preceding the crash, remodeling accounted for roughly a 40%-45% share, falling to the upper 30s at the height of the building boom in 2005.

Over the coming five years, researchers at Harvard expect inflation-adjusted spending on remodeling to grow at a 3.5% average annual rate in real dollars, slightly above the projected rate of growth for the economy. By comparison, improvement spending saw a growth rate of 7.3% from 2000 to 2005 and -1.4% during the second half of the decade.

Currently, the industry is getting a lift from the increasing numbers of distressed properties in need of rehabilitation and from a decrease in household mobility that is leaving owners in their current homes longer, making them more amenable to considering projects with longer paybacks, particularly energy-efficient retrofits. A spring survey found that purchasers of distressed properties are spending an average 15% more in the first year after the purchase than those who bought non-distressed homes, Baker said.

Over the longer term, “market fundamentals — the number of homes in the housing stock, the age of those homes and the income gains of home owners making improvements — point to increases in remodeling spending,” according to the Remodeling Futures report.

Remodeling will also benefit from the economy and housing returning to more normal conditions; a disproportionate amount of improvements are made shortly after the purchase of a home.

The downturn that the industry is now crawling out of has been characterized by a drop in discretionary kitchen and bath remodels and other high-end projects and a shift to smaller jobs. That drop amounted to 23% during the downturn, he said.

A corresponding trend has been a decline in the share of total spending from home owners with the top 5% of incomes. That share decreased from 60.6% in 2005 to 52.1% in 2009.

A Bigger Share for Bigger Companies

Looking at the evolving structure of the home improvement industry, Baker reported a trend toward concentration among larger companies in a “notoriously fragmented” industry that will remain characterized by many small businesses that are highly susceptible to failure.

Of the more than 650,000 remodeling contractors in 2007 (up from 530,000 in 2002), one-third were general contractors and two-thirds were trade contractors, Baker reported. Trade contractors grew about twice as fast as general contractors in the 2002-2007 period. In 2007, there were twice as many remodeling firms comprised of a single self-employed individual as those with employees on the payroll.

Among the top 500 remodelers in the country, those specializing in exterior replacements — such as roofing, siding and exterior doors and windows — fared the best during the downturn, with business trailing down as much as 5%, said Baker.

Design-build, which consists of jobs that can be deferred, took the biggest tumble, declining 20% by 2009.

Baker added that failure rates have been high for remodeling firms even when times are good. “Over one-third of the firms with payrolls that were in business in 2003 were not in business in 2007,” he said, “in one of the strongest periods in the history of the industry.”

Among signs of industry concentration, he noted that through 2007, larger firms with more than $1 million in yearly business accounted for 55% of the employees in the industry and 65% of the revenues among companies with payrolls. From 2002 to 2007, the share of industry receipts for the top 50 remodeling contractors rose from 5.2% to 7.9%.

Best-Positioned Markets

Taking a look at where remodelers are likely to fare the best, Baker said that the top markets are located along coastal California and in the Northeast, where home prices and incomes tend to be higher. Average home owner spending in 2000 to 2009, in 2009 dollars, ran to a high of $5,080 in San Jose, Calif., among the 35 metropolitan areas with the largest populations. The lowest average spending was $1,240 in San Antonio.

Spending cutbacks have been especially large in markets with high delinquencies, he added.

Looking at favorable market conditions — including higher house value appreciation, higher median household income, older housing stock, higher home values and a large share of upscale remodeling projects — Baker said that metro markets best positioned for a rebound are San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego in California; and Boston, New York and Philadelphia.

In the second tier, out of five, are Seattle, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Virginia Beach, Va., The least favorable conditions prevail in Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Detroit, Atlanta and, in Florida, Tampa, Orlando and Miami.

Also of interest to remodelers, who can expect to derive the most business in areas that are benefitting from domestic migration, Baker identified markets that appear to have reversed the longer-term pattern of population leaving the Northeast and Midwest for the South and West. Both New York and Los Angeles, which experienced sharp net out-migrations in 2006, shifted to significantly slower outward population flows in 2009. Cities that had been losing population but were seeing small gains in 2009 include Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Boston.

Immigrant home owners also represent an important market segment, he suggested, with their spending almost doubling from $10.9 billion in 2001 to $18.4 billion in 2009.

Also, energy-efficiency improvements “have held up better than other categories,” largely because of tax credits, some of which were scaled back by the last Congress at the end of 2010. The percent of remodelers working on energy-related projects jumped from 39% in the third quarter of 2009 to 58% in the third quarter of 2003, according to the Joint Center’s National Green Building Survey, 2009-2010.

Of those who reported in last year’s third quarter that they were working on jobs to improve residential energy efficiency, 97% said those projects included the building envelope, 41% worked on HVAC upgrades and replacements, and 19% were involved in renewable energy systems — including solar, wind, geothermal and fuel-cell technologies.

An Industry of Small People

Taking an even closer look at the composition of the remodeling industry, Paul Emrath, NAHB’s vice president of survey and housing policy research, said that there are “a lot of small entities out there” and it is “difficult to communicate with them.”

The 2007 Economic Census by the U.S. Census Bureau found that 22.9% of remodelers have annual receipts under $100,000, Emrath said, and 46.5% reported receiving between $100,000 and $499,000.

Measured against the U.S. Small Business Administration’s classification of residential remodelers with average annual receipts below $33.5 million as small, “remodeling is an industry of really small people,” Emrath said.

In 2007, there were more than 283,000 workers employed in the remodeling industry, he said, but this is an underestimation of remodeling’s impact on jobs for two reasons: an average 53% of remodeling work is subcontracted; and remodelers use an average of 18 trade contractors annually.

When construction establishments that don’t have employees on the payroll are considered, remodelers look even smaller. The almost 600,000 non-employers in residential construction in 2007, including remodelers, had average annual sales receipts of only $85,900. The more than 1.9 million specialty trade contractors without payrolls had even lower average receipts: $50,300.

“This is not understood by policy makers,” Emrath said. If it were, then the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency might have made a better effort last year to get the word out to small remodelers on its new lead rule. The agency also might have realized that it was not financially feasible for many remodelers to interrupt their work and travel by air to the far-flung locations where training was available.

Responding to a Weaker Market

Among new trends spawned by the downturn, Emrath said that prospective remodeling customers have been getting choosier about who they select for their job. Seventy-six percent of the remodelers surveyed by NAHB in the first quarter of 2010 said that their customers were always, almost always or frequently obtaining multiple bids from contractors. Seventy-five percent reported that more customers were getting multiple bids than two years earlier.

Responding to weaker market conditions, fewer remodelers have been charging fees for submitting an estimate, despite the costs involved. In the same survey, 80% said there was no charge, up from 70% two years previously.

NAHB survey research found remodelers doing kitchen jobs dropping from 73% to 52% between 2004 and 2010, room additions “really dropping off” from 57% to 29%; and whole house remodeling down from 44% to 21%. On the other hand, remodelers offering handyman services almost doubled over that period — from 17% to 33% — as remodelers looked for ways to tide their businesses over until the return of better times.

Commenting on another up trend, Emrath cited an NAHB survey in the third quarter of 2009 finding that a median 5% of remodelers reported undertaking jobs for households using energy efficiency tax credits. “That translates into several billions of dollars” in business, he said.

Information by County

Emrath also discussed new NAHB compilations of the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey data that enable remodelers to find significant information related to remodeling by county. Information includes the number of owner-occupied homes in the county, the married couple share of households, the average value of homes, the housing share built before 1980, the typical-year remodeling volume in the county in millions of dollars; and the average remodeling spent per home.

The county information is being provided to members of NAHB Remodelers free of cost.

For more information on the estimates by county, e-mail Therese Crahan at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8211. For other information on remodeling, contact Kelly Mack, x8451.



Learn How to Run a Successful Remodeling Company

The Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, shows how to use proven management systems to run a successful remodeling company.

The publication includes a CD containing 160 essential forms and documents — culled from successful remodelers across the country — that you can customize to suit your business needs.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.



'How to Find a Professional Remodeler' Brochures Available at BuilderBooks.com

"How to Find a Professional Remodeler," available at NAHB BuilderBooks, promotes the professionalism of your remodeling business by offering a wealth of valuable advice to customers on the process of selecting a remodeler. 

The newly updated brochure highlights the before and after photos of the most frequently remolded rooms in the house.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

 

 

New NAHB Remodelers Chair Set to Tackle Industry Issues in 2011

Bob Peterson, CGR, CAPS, CGP — selected as 2011 chairman of the NAHB Remodelers during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando — has three goals for this year: increasing professionalism in the industry through education, preparing members for the eventual growth in the marketplace and educating both members and the public about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's lead paint exposure training and certification requirements.

“I am honored to represent the interests of professional remodelers and look forward to helping our industry take on the challenges we will face this year as we look to a brighter future ahead,” said Peterson. “I am proud of our members, who are the most educated and skilled in the industry, running successful businesses and providing quality remodeling services for home owners across the nation.”

Peterson has worked in the building industry for more than 35 years and is president of Associates in Building & Design, Ltd. in Fort Collins, Colo. — a remodeling design/build firm he established in 1990. He helped found his local remodeler’s council and served as its chair. Peterson has also served as president of both the HBA of Northern Colorado and the Colorado Association of Home Builders.

As a longstanding trustee of NAHB Remodelers, Peterson has led various national committees, and he serves on the NAHB Executive Board. He is also a strong advocate for advanced education and has earned the Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR), Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) and Certified Green Professional (CGP) designations.

In 2007, Peterson was honored as the NAHB Remodelers’ Remodeler of the Year for professional excellence and in 2008 he was recognized as Colorado Builder of the Year. He has also been featured in national publications as a remodeling industry expert.

As chair of the leading professional organization for residential remodeling, Peterson represents the more than 14,000 remodeling industry members of NAHB.

For more information, e-mail Kelly Mack at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8451. 


Learn How to Run a Successful Remodeling Company

The Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, shows how to use proven management systems to run a successful remodeling company.

The publication includes a CD containing 160 essential forms and documents — culled from successful remodelers across the country — that you can customize to suit your business needs.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.



'How to Find a Professional Remodeler' Brochures Available at BuilderBooks.com

"How to Find a Professional Remodeler," available at NAHB BuilderBooks, promotes the professionalism of your remodeling business by offering a wealth of valuable advice to customers on the process of selecting a remodeler. 

The newly updated brochure highlights the before and after photos of the most frequently remolded rooms in the house.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

 

 

Be a 'Smart' Builder: Use Mobile Marketing to Sell Your Homes to Networked Buyers

 
By Mike Lyon
www.doyouconvert.com

Smartphones are everywhere. They’re used by every age group — my toddler can scroll through photos and watch videos on my iPhone — and every walk of life

And they’re becoming more even affordable, accessible — and ubiquitous.

With smartphones becoming increasingly popular — your customers are living, working and breathing their smartphones — the “smart” builders will be the ones who utilize mobile technology to broaden their marketing reach.

And don't think that smartphones are a passing fancy. They've become valuable communications and information-gathering tools.

Just how valuable? Consider this:

  • By the end of 2010, 80% of Americans had mobile devices.

  • Thirty-five percent of adults use their mobile devices to wirelessly access the Internet.

  • Only 45% of iPhone usage time is used for making phone calls. 

  • Smartphone browser and application usage has increased more than 110% in the past year.

  • Video usage accounts for 69% of total mobile data traffic.

  • In 2012, the number of smartphones shipped is expected to exceed the number of PCs shipped.

  • Applications for smartphones continue to emerge as the device’s popularity soars.

Consumers use their smartphones to make restaurant reservations and bank deposits, pay bills, download coupons in stores while they shop and, yes, they even use their smartphones to search for their new home.

So, if your marketing hasn’t gone mobile yet, you’re missing an ever-growing opportunity.

Move Forward With Mobile Marketing

From a business marketing perspective, you need to ensure that you make it extremely easy for prospective buyers to access your information — especially when they’re gathering information about your homes and community while sitting in their car in front of your model.

To go mobile with your marketing, first recognize that mobile media embraces voice, data and video — ideal mediums for the real estate and construction industries to promote their products.

The following pointers can help you integrate mobile media into your marketing:

  • Make sure your website can be viewed on mobile devices.
    Work with a web design firm that can convert the pertinent information about your product so it can be available quickly on a mobile device.

    You don’t need every page of your site converted, just the important information a buyer needs access to while on the go — like home details, pricing, community and area details, maps and contact information.

    With so many new browsers for mobile devices available and being developed, make sure your site’s scripting remains current so your visibility isn’t restricted to users of older smartphones.

  • Think text marketing — to provide instant gratification.
    Secure a short message service (SMS) phone number for texting and include it in all your advertising so potential home buyers can text you for more information. That way, a customer driving by your property can immediately receive the info they need and access details through a return text and link to your mobile site.

    In addition, this is a great way to collect users’ mobile numbers for your courtesy follow-up calls.

  • Need a home? There’s an app for that.
    Create an application that enables mobile users to stay connected with you on their iPhone or other smartphone. An app is a great way to keep your icon front and center in your prospect's home search.

    In  all your advertising and outreach calls, don't forget to inform prospects that they can access all the details they need on their mobile device. Also, let them know they can call, e-mail or text you for the information.

Get Social on Mobile Devices

Don’t overlook marketing through social networking on smartphones, either. Social networking apps are the fastest growing applications on smartphones today.

Users post updates, ask for recommendations and share their opinions and experiences through their far-reaching network communities.

Within our industry, prospective home buyers are taking photos of properties, posting them on their social networking sites and asking for opinions. You absolutely should be a part of this conversation.

Of the 500 million users on Facebook, 100 million access the network through their mobile phones. These Facebook users are generally more affluent and active, as evidenced by their need for a device that can keep pace with them. These users also generally constitute a strong match with your demographic.

Facebook also has a new Places application that can be a boon for builders. It enables users to connect in order to meet face-to-face with people who happen to be near the same place at the same time — perhaps in your model home.

But remember, even with all the possibilities this technolgy affords, your marketing still needs to educate and remind your customers throughout the sales process to connect with your company — whether by checking in, posting pictures or signing up on your “Like” page.

Be Smart, Lose Your ‘Dumb’ Phone

With a pocket-sized smartphone, you can conduct business almost anywhere by keeping on top of your e-mails, staying connected with your clients, getting instant updates on your social networking activity, taking photos and videos and more.

As a real estate professional who is always on the go, your phone should be able to record and send videos to anyone in your network. It should allow you to send and receive tweets, update your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and send and receive e-mails. And that’s just for starters.

With a smartphone you can:

  • Record a video blog at the site of a new development or touring through a community
  • Video and upload customer testimonials they are most satisfied with your help
  • Check other listings on the Internet
  • Research rates and information for your seller, wherever you happen to be
  • Use your smartphone’s built-in GPS to get where you need to go
  • Synch your contacts so you always have the e-mail addresses and phone numbers you need
  • Keep your calendar updated and handy

Use a smartphone to put your waiting time to good use. Connect with five or six buyers in a matter of minutes, even when you’re away from your office and computer. How much is a quick response worth to you?

More importantly, how much is it worth to them?

Mike Lyon is a sought-after consultant on Internet marketing, sales and technology for home builders and the author of “Browsers to Buyers: Proven Strategies for Selling New Homes Onlineand the newly released, “Social Media Guide for Real Estate.”  For more information, visit www.doyouconvert.com, or follow @mikelyon on Twitter.

A version of this article originally appeared on the NAHB Sales and Marketing Channel.



‘Social Media for Home Builders’ Available at NAHB BuilderBooks

Social Media for Home Builders: It’s Easier Than You Think,” available at NAHB Builder Books , demonstrates the power of social media through case studies and online outlets created specifically for the home building industry.

Learn how to use social media sites to build your brand, engage new and existing consumers, manage your online reputation and sell more homes.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.



In Today’s Market, 'Think Sold!' With Help From NAHB BuilderBooks

Think Sold! Creating Home Sales in Any Market,” available at NAHB BuilderBooks, is a practical, how-to guide for developing the self-awareness, knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the competitive field of new home sales.

The book covers everything from the home buying process and new home financing to strategies for making better sales presentations and sizing up the competition. It teaches readers how to overcome customers’ concerns and provides specific examples of how to explain the benefits of new home features in customer-friendly language.

“Think Sold” provides insights on how to approach sales and life from a position of optimism that will create successful outcomes; how to improve upon potential customer prospecting and follow-up skills; and how to communicate effectively with various types of buyers and learn how to adjust communication strategies to increase rapport and alignment with buyers’ motives.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.



Subscribe to Sales + Marketing Ideas Magazine for Cutting-Edge Information

For additional cutting-edge sales and marketing information, subscribe to NAHB’s Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine (www.smimagazine.com).

Click here to learn about membership benefits of the National Sales and Marketing Council and the Institute of Residential Marketing.

 

 

Florida Waterfront Community, Toronto High-Rise Earn Top Honors at The Nationals

A residential waterfront community in Florida and a high-rise condominium in Toronto earned top domestic and international community honors at the National Sales and Marketing Awards gala — known as The Nationals — on Jan. 12 at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

One of the building industry’s most prestigious events, The Nationals by NAHB’s National Sales and Marketing Council honored the year’s most outstanding work in residential real estate sales, marketing and design.


Chaz, a high-rise condominium in Toronto, won the Community of the Year (International).

“The Nationals Awards has always celebrated the amazing talent in the home building industry, and this year is no different,” said Gaye Orr, Nationals chair and owner of Coldwell Banker Advantage New Homes. “New home sales and marketing professionals will continue to produce good work, no matter what the circumstances. This year’s winners truly deserve recognition for excelling during a time when the economy suggested they could not succeed.”

The gala attracted more than 500 building industry professionals to The Peabody Orlando during for a detailed look at the year’s most innovative and successful ideas.

A diverse panel of industry professionals from across the country selected Gold award winners from more than 700 entries.

Several top award winners are highlighted below:

Community of the Year Gold Awards

Individual Achievement Honors

Legends of Residential Marketing

The Legends of Residential Marketing Award was instituted in 1992 to honor builders and consultants who stand apart as leaders in the field. The Legends are selected for their professional commitment to the industry and new-home community marketing innovations.

Sales and Marketing Council of the Year

For a complete list of Gold and Silver winners, along with additional details and history of The Nationals, visit www.thenationals.com.

The exclusive co-sponsors of The Nationals are MetLife Home Loans and MetLife Bank, N.A. Elite sponsors include Thermador and Wells Fargo. Preferred sponsors include AT&T Connected Communities, BDX and Washington Post Media.

For a complete list of The Nationals Award winners, visit www.thenationals.com.

For more information, e-mail Lisa Parrish, or call her at 800-658-2751 or 909-987-2758.

 

 

Members Can Schedule Free Fall Protection Classes Through Their State or Local HBAs

With studies indicating that falls are the leading cause of death and serious and debilitating injuries on residential job sites, NAHB, in conjunction with the NAHB Research Center, is providing free in-person training on fall protection in the residential construction industry to members and their staffs.

The training, funded through a grant provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, will be offered through state and local home builders associations. Members must contact their HBA to schedule the training, which will be conducted on the job site. Classes hosted by the HBAs must have at least 25 participants, who can be members or non-members.

“Job site safety is the number-one priority for builders,” said NAHB Immediate Past Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “With falls continually being the leading cause of injury in our industry, this training will help our members not only improve safety on the job site, it will better equip them to comply with OSHA’s regulations.”

Aimed at small- to medium-sized builders, remodelers, trade contractors, supervisors and workers, the four-hour training session will focus on identifying fall hazards in residential construction and provide attendees an understanding of OSHA fall protection regulations and safe work practices to prevent fall-related injuries and deaths.

The seminar will teach participants how to:

  • Recognize the most common fall hazards on residential job sites
  • Use safe work practices to reduce the risk of injuries
  • Comply with OSHA fall protection regulations that apply to the home building industry

Each participant will receive:

  • NAHB-OSHA Fall Protection Handbook
  • NAHB Fall Protection Video
  • NAHB-OSHA Scaffold Safety Handbook
  • NAHB Scaffold Safety Video
  • Other valuable safety and health materials

The training, which began this month, is being held at sites across the country.

Local and state HBAs that are interested in hosting a fall protection training seminar can find out more about the guidelines for hosting, as well as more information on the program, at www.nahb.org/fallprotectiontraining.

For more information, e-mail Tonia Green at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8163; or contact Marcus Odorizzi, x8590.



Help Make Job Site Safety a Priority With Video From NAHB BuilderBooks

The “Jobsite Safety Video,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, is the first-ever job site safety video for home builders.

The video provides an overview of the key safety issues that residential builders and workers need to focus on to reduce accidents and injuries.

Based on the NAHB-OSHA Jobsite Safety Handbook, this DVD is intended to be used as part of an essential residential construction safety-training program and includes two 20-minute videos on one DVD.

To view or purchase this DVD online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

 

 

OSHA Withdraws Proposed Noise Interpretation

Stating it was sensitive to potential costs and other concerns raised by NAHB and other trade associations, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) withdrew its proposed interpretation of noise standards on Jan. 19, three months after it was published in the Federal Register.

OSHA had intended to revise its current enforcement policy to require employers to use administrative or engineering controls rather than personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce noise exposures below the permissible level when such controls are “feasible.”

The interpretation would have defined the term "feasible administrative or engineering controls" used in the noise standard as meaning “capable of being done” regardless of cost, so long as it does not put a company out of business.

In an OSHA press release announcing the interpretation’s withdrawal, Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said, “We are sensitive to the possible costs associated with improving worker protection and have decided to suspend work on this proposed modification while we study other approaches to abating workplace noise hazards."

OSHA said it was also abandoning the proposed interpretation because of concerns over resources and public outreach.

Instead, Dr. Michaels said that OSHA, while still committed to reducing thousands of cases of workplace-induced hearing loss annually, would undertake the following actions:

Since 1983, OSHA’s enforcement policy has allowed employers to rely on a hearing conservation program based on the use of PPEs, such as ear plugs and muffs, if such a program reduces noise exposures to acceptable levels and is less costly than administrative controls, including different work practices, or engineering controls such as different machinery, equipment or materials. 

For more information, e-mail Rob Matuga at NAHB, or call him 800-368-5242 x8507, or contact Marcus Odorizzi, x8590.

Multifamily Builders Should Be Aware of Health Hazards of Foam Spray Insulation

Multifamily builders should be aware of safety issues presented by the installation of spray polyurethane insulating foam (SPF) , which is installed as a liquid and then expands to many times its original size.

SPF is a widely used and highly effective insulator and sealant. However, exposure to its key ingredient, isocyanates — along with other chemicals in SPF products — can cause the following adverse health effects:

  • Asthma, a potentially life-threatening disease
  • Lung damage
  • Respiratory problems and other breathing difficulties
  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Other potential adverse health effects

It is important to review the manufacturer’s recommendations for handling the chemicals that make up SPF. A few safety best practices to avoid injury or illness when handling SPF include:

  • Review product ingredients and use information, such as material safety data sheets (MSDSs).
  • Vacate building occupants and other trade workers who are unprotected.
  • Isolate the work site.
  • Wear prescribed personal protective equipment — such as chemical-resistant (nitrile) gloves and clothing and an appropriate respirator.
  • Ventilate the work site.
  • Clean the area thoroughly before unprotected workers or occupants re-enter it.

In order to ensure safe re-entry into a building after the SPF has been installed, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper foam curing time.

For more information on spray polyurethane foam insulation and isocyanates, visit the Occupational and Safety Administration's safety and health topics section on its website.

Alternative Finance and Volunteers Help Build Award-Winning Cub Scout Castle

With funding difficult to secure these days, projects are somewhat scarce in the struggling commercial building industry. So when the opportunity to build the Cub World Medieval Castle came along accompanied by alternative funding and volunteer contractors, it was “construction heaven” for third-generation commercial builder Mike Gohman of St. Joseph, Minn.

The project was a stand-out entry for NAHB’s National Commercial Builders Council (NCBC) Awards of Excellence program and was named the 2011 Project of the Year.  

“We’ve been able to keep our operations going with various non-traditional projects,” said Gohman, president of W. Gohman Construction Company. “This was a refreshing break, and an opportunity to work creatively on a unique assignment.”

The task was to design and construct a residence and activity hall that the Central Minnesota Council of the Boy Scouts of America could use to provide the first outing experience for young Cub Scouts. The building needed to have a “wow” factor to get the boys excited about participating in the scouting program, yet it also needed to be a safe and controlled environment.

The project, which started in April 2008, called for using maintenance-free and readily available materials and to incorporate as many green building concepts as possible — including energy efficiency — within the project’s design.

The result is a two-story castle with 6,000 square feet on each floor. One of the main features of the facility is a walled-in 7,500-square-foot courtyard, with precast catwalks and full-sized lookout towers.

An in-floor hydronic tubing system — an update of the technology that powers old-fashioned cast-iron radiators — provides a warm, comfortable surface on which children can play, and the heating and air-conditioning system filters the air before it’s heated or cooled.

In addition, energy-efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures are used throughout and bathrooms have motion sensors to turn lights and exhaust fans on and off. Domestic hot water is provided by reheat coils through the natural gas-fired boiler system.

The project was completed in February 2009 using volunteer hours and donated supplies by subcontractors and vendors.

“We really pulled our resources together to create a venue where the Boys Scouts can have an affordable facility to create responsible, successful men, who could be the next generation of builders and leaders,” said Gohman.

The main donors and companies who provided in-kind contributions have their names carved in plaques at the main entrance — many are on family crests modeled out of clay by local artists. The castle has been fully occupied throughout the year and maintains a regular waiting list.

The NCBC Awards of Excellence program recognizes achievements in design, market appeal, overall aesthetics, challenges faced during building and overall success of commercial projects that are either built or renovated and range in size from less than 5,000 to more than 100,000 square feet. Entries are submitted in six project-size divisions from eight categories: retail, commercial, institutional, medical, industrial, recreational, mixed-use and green building.

The Cub World Medieval Castle won the top prize out of nine finalists.

"Besides being a really cool project to do, the Cub Scouts castle is really the heart of what light commercial building is all about,” said NCBC Chairman Gene Graf, president and CEO of Gallatin Center LP in Bozeman, Mont. “But Mike didn’t just construct a cool building, it incorporates all the function, durability and low-cost maintenance that was required.”

Additional design elements of the project:

  • The castle was built in a heavily treed area of the Boy Scouts Camp, with minimal disturbance to the existing vegetation and wildlife. In addition, 276 trees were transplanted from other areas of the camp to replace areas where it was necessary to remove trees for construction. A drip line system, using water hoses and timers, was installed to maintain the newly transplanted trees until they securely took root.

  • The facility was constructed of concrete blocks that included precast panels with a colored finish and sealed concrete floors. The roofing is steel. The idea was to provide the Scouts the easiest maintenance and upkeep possible with the least amount of staffing.

  • The grand entrance was manufactured of maintenance-free decking applied to huge doors and a paving stone walkway to create the appearance of a drawbridge. Once inside the courtyard, the medieval ambiance continues with turrets, towers and the rampart catwalks.

  • The lower level is designed as a storm shelter for the entire 300-acre Cub Scout camp. The residence will accommodate 32 boys and 16 adults on the main level. The project also is easily adaptable to accommodate functions and events for girls.

  • The play area of the courtyard is covered with turf, with water-efficient drip irrigation under the surface, and is the largest underground drip system ever installed in Minnesota.

For more information, e-mail Kisha DeSandies at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8455.

Houston, Huey Assume Leadership of Professional Women in Building Council


Kimm Houston


Alicia Huey

Oklahoma home builder Kimmi Houston was installed as 2011 chair of the NAHB Professional Women in Building (PWB) Council at the recent NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

Elected vice chair was Alicia Huey, president of AGH Homes, Inc. in Birmingham, Ala., and an executive committee member of the Home Builders Association of Alabama.

Houston, owner of Houston Homes in Edmond, Okla., is also a member of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association’s PWB in Oklahoma City and served as council president in 2009.

A longtime NAHB volunteer leader, Houston has been in the building industry for more than 20 years and brings extensive national, state and local experience to the table. She served as a national PWB regional trustee and supports various local women’s councils in her area, offering effective activities to maintain membership and service in the community.

Houston is also a member of the NAHB Single-Family Small Volume Committee.

“I’m honored to be chosen to lead the Professional Women in Building Council this year,” Houston said. “The home building industry is beginning to emerge from a difficult period and the networking and educational opportunities available to our members allow us to make this ‘new’ industry much more responsive to consumer preferences and economic realities.”

Among her priorities this year are increasing PWB’s legislative efforts at the local, state and national level, and continued outreach and networking to provide service to PWB members.

The NAHB Professional Women in Building Council is the voice of women in the building industry, dedicated to promoting professionalism and supporting its members at the local, state and national levels with networking and educational opportunities, legislative awareness and outreach, and professional and personal development.

For additional information about PWB, e-mail Carmel Nayman at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8410.

BuilderLink Competition Aims at Putting More Women in Touch With Legislators

In a competition running now through April 30, The Professional Women in Building Council (PWB) is encouraging its members to participate in BuilderLink and recruit additional advocates for the housing industry.

PWB members are being asked to sign up as BuilderLink Advocates and then find others to do the same. The top recruiters can win up to $100.

As NAHB’s national grassroots network, BuilderLink enables builders and related professionals to communicate key industry issues to Congress through letters, e-mails and phone calls.

Increasing the council’s legislative efforts at the local, state and national level is the biggest goal of PWB 2011 Chair Kimmi Houston, owner of Houston Homes in Edmond, Okla.

“We speak from the heart and soul of our industry,” Houston said. “The council wanted to set itself apart and show we support NAHB’s advocacy efforts and understand that it takes a consistent and persistent voice to achieve legislative change.”

Participants in BuilderLink can also become Ambassadors, who develop a personal relationship with a member of Congress to heighten the effectiveness of their communication on housing issues of concern to their families, their businesses and NAHB.

Ambassadors meet locally with federal lawmakers and engage in a handful of other advocacy activities that are tied to the federal legislative goals of NAHB.

“As the home building industry recovers from the downturn, this is a critical moment to make sure our legislators not only know our concerns, but understand how new and pending legislation can affect our industry, which in turn shapes the overall economy,” Houston said.

How It Works

To participate in the PWB challenge, sign up as a BuilderLink Advocate at www.nahb.org/builderlink. Through this free service, NAHB members receive the latest updates on issues affecting the industry and can send personal messages to their members of Congress with the click of a mouse.

Recruit additional members by printing out the form at www.nahb.org/pwbbuilderlink and making sure they sign up too.  

Prospects for BuilderLink can be found at meetings and activities of state and local home builders associations However, BuilderLink members do not have to belong to NAHB; they just have to care about the future of housing.

The top recruiter in each of NAHB’s five regions will receive $100. The two runners-up in each region receive $50.

The competition runs through the end of April. All forms must be sent to Carmel Nayman by May 5 to be eligible.The winners will be announced at the PWB Legislative Luncheon during NAHB's spring board meeting May 18-21 in Washington, D.C. Winners do not need to be present.

For additional information, e-mail Carmel Nayman at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8410. 

Hone Business Skills, Enhance Credibility During National Designation Month in February

NAHB members have an opportunity to jump-start or complete their designation and enhance their credibility during National Designation Month in February, now in its ninth year and sponsored by NAHB Education.

“Obtaining a designation adds some credibility to builders. It provides a third-party endorsement that says, ‘I’m not doing this just as a job, I’m doing it as a profession,’” said Jim Carr, a Graduate Master Builder (GMB), Certified Green Professional (CGP), professor at the University of Arkansas and an NAHB Education instructor.  

National Designation Month promotes ongoing education in the housing industry, recognizing the achievements of building professionals and educating the public about the value of selecting builders, remodelers and other industry professionals who hold NAHB designations.

NAHB professional designations are aimed at improving business skills, providing career advancement and recognizing industry expertise and commitment to professional growth in the home building industry.

The designations convey to potential clients that they can expect superior training, practical experience and an in-depth knowledge from those who have earned them. 

Additionally, home building professionals enjoy valuable networking opportunities while they are earning their designation — working closely with expert instructors and other professionals within and outside their specific areas of expertise.

NAHB and its licensed education distributors are stepping up efforts to educate the public about the value of selecting building industry professionals who earn a designation, to build support for continuing education programs and to increase recognition of the comprehensive training required for earning an NAHB designation.

Click here to view the designations that are available.

For more information on participating in or promoting National Designation Month, visit www.nahb.org/ndm; or call the Professional Designation Help Line at 800-368-5242 x8154.

Education Calendar

Feb. 3

Design Trends and Market Trends

Webinar

April 9-10

Lands Roundtable and Workshop

Washington, D.C.

May 1-3

National Green Building Conference

Salt Lake City, Utah

Aug. 17-20

Executive Officers Council Seminar

Naples, Fla.

Oct. 23-25

Building Systems Councils SHOWCASE

Baltimore, Md.

Nov. 9-11

NAHB Summit on Association Excellence

Dallas, Texas

Learn More About NAHB Professional Development Offerings

View the variety of professional development offerings available through NAHB and its local associations at www.nahb.org/education.

 

Search for Upcoming Courses in Your Area

Or, search for specific course offerings in your area and check out upcoming conferences.

Affordability Pivotal in Sealing the Deal on Green-Built Homes

With buyers in today’s housing market primarily motivated by cost effectiveness, green-built homes will take an increasingly large percentage of the market in direct proportion to their price, according to representatives from four suppliers and product manufactures during a press conference at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

Echoing those thoughts at a second press conference, two home builders and a remodeler who are certifying their projects to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Builders Challenge program said that affordability — not cutting-edge technology — has been pivotal in their ability to seal the deal with home buyers.

“The key is value for every stakeholder in the process,” from the manufacturer to the builder and the home buyer, said Richard Davenport, director of sustainable construction for BASF.

The good news, said Kohler’s Rob Zimmerman, is that product manufacturers have been able to focus during the current building downturn on new technologies “that will make green building more affordable.”

The rural location of Marvin Windows and Doors' Minnesota manufacturing facility has forced the company to be more resourceful, said Christine Marvin, the fourth generation of her family to work in the business. “Our commitment is to use our resources wisely,” and that applies to its products as well.

Speaking on behalf of the Council for Responsible Energy, Carter Oosterhouse, star of several home-improvement cable television shows, told reporters that he started out as a carpenter in his home state of Michigan. Now, from a platform reaching millions of viewers, Oosterhouse can also deliver the message that home-owner education and awareness are critical to meeting energy efficiency goals.

The NAHB press conference was held in conjunction with Builders’ Challenge, which offers technical assistance to builders and remodelers constructing homes that are at least 30% more efficient than under the prevailing energy code requirements.

Builders interested in certifying their homes with Builders Challenge can do so while meeting the additional requirements of the National Green Building Standard, which offers a dual certification option for those builders and remodelers who want to go beyond energy efficiency and incorporate water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and other hallmarks of the green-built home.

That’s encouraging for program participants, who can use the dual certification tool to cut their administrative costs and save time, said Matt Belcher of Belcher Homes in St. Louis, which recently completed the first remodeling project to be certified by both the National Green Building Standard and the Builders Challenge program.

“If it’s too expensive, we can’t do it,” said G.W. Robinson of G.W. Robinson Builders, a custom home builder in Gainesville, Fla. His homes have become progressively more energy-efficient since the mid-1990s and now average Home Energy Rating (HERS) scores of less than 60 — or at least 40% more energy-efficient than homes built to the prevailing codes.

Since Builders Challenge was launched at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in February 2008, 5,000 homes have been certified under the program. More than 1,000 of them have been built by David Weekley Homes, the majority of those in its East Texas division. “It gives us an edge in the market and it’s the right thing to do,” said Nate Beauregard, quality coach for David Weekley. 

However, the company has had to find ways to cut costs in other facets of its operations to pay for the products, materials and quality control time needed to build more energy-efficient homes, which together add about 3% to 5% to construction costs, he said. “The problem is that home buyers in a lot of markets aren’t willing to pay for them, so we are taking on the additional costs.”

Both Beauregard and Belcher said they focus on the building envelope, paying attention to how the home is sealed, rather than relying on high-tech products to get better HERS scores. “We haven’t seen the cost benefit yet of solar power” and other renewable energy systems, Beauregard said.

As energy efficiency requirements in building codes become more stringent, Builders Challenge participants will find themselves ahead of the game, and that can put them at a competitive advantage, said David Lee, who heads up the program for the Department of Energy. In addition, “these builders are finding the way to see if these increases are achievable or not,” he said.

Apply for Green Building Awards by Monday, Jan. 31

Entries are being accepted for the 2011 National Green Building Awards. Entries must be submitted by midnight on Monday, Jan. 31.

Each year, NAHB recognizes individuals, companies and organizations for excellence in residential green design and construction practices and for green building program and advocacy efforts.

The prestigious awards will be presented at a gala dinner during the 13th annual National Green Building Conferenc & Expo in Salt Lake City on May 1-3.

All homes and developments must be scored to the National Green Building Standard to ensure fair comparisons for judging purposes.

Award categories include:

  • Green Advocate of the Year: Builder, Remodeler, Individual, Group, State/local Government and HBA 
  • Green Project of the Year — Single-Family
  • Green Project of the Year — Multifamily
  • Green Project of the Year — Site Development
  • Green Project of the Year — Remodeling

The awards are open to both NAHB members and non-NAHB members. To apply for the awards, visit www.nahb.org/greenbuildingawards.

The NAHB National Green Building Conference attracts home builders, remodelers, architects, suppliers and environmental officials for three days of educational events, the popular Tour of Green Homes and product booths and demonstrations.

For exhibit booth information, e-mail Christopher Hood at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8684.

For sponsorship information, contact Harris Floyd, x8208, or Grante Wright, x8051.

For additional information on the awards program, contact Chad Riedy, x8225.



'National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.

The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.

Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here.



'National Green Building Standard Commentary' Available at BuilderBooks.com

The "National Green Building Standard Commentary," available through BuilderBooks.com and a companion to the ANSI approved "National Green Building Standard," that provides valuable insight to the intention and implementations of the practices and provisions found in the green building standard.

The "Commentary" is a useful resource for any designer or builder using the ICC 700-2008 as a rating system for developing or renovating residential properties of all types to reduce their relative impact.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.



More Than 5,000 People Have Earned Their Certified Green Professional (CGP) Designation

The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.

Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. More than 5,400 people have earned the CGP designation to date.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.



'Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

For answers to questions about National Green Building Certification by the NAHB Research Center, certification to the standard or the guideline sunset, complete and submit the Contact Us form on the NAHBGreen website.

Building Systems Can Help Builders Cut Costs, Rebound Quickly, New BSC Chair Says

Harry Junk, who was elected the 2011 chair of NAHB’s Building Systems Councils (BSC) during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando earlier this month, said he plans to promote the systems-built industries — concrete, modular, panelized and log home construction — because they can help builders rebound from the deep housing recession by cutting costs and providing home buyers with quality housing options.

“The home building industry has been hit hard over the past few years and I want to help elevate the profile of systems-built construction options,” Junk said. “As production starts to ramp up, builders will see a great need to diversify their businesses and help reduce their overhead costs. Building systems can get them back on their feet more quickly," he added.

Junk, the owner of the Harry Junk Company in Herndon, Va., and a member of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association based in Chantilly, is also the market development director for the National Concrete Masonry Association in Herndon.

A longtime volunteer leader at NAHB, he has served on committees for NAHB’s Concrete Home Building Council, the Building Systems Councils and the National Commercial Builders Council. He also serves on the NAHB Education Committee.

In addition to his involvement with NAHB, he has been the chairman of the Environmental Council of Concrete Organizations and worked on Federal Emergency Management Agency mitigation issues through various committees.

The new BSC chairman is also a contributing editor to Concrete Masonry Designs, an award-winning industry publication by the National Concrete Masonry Association.

Junk succeeds Vic DePhillips, president of Signature Building Systems, a modular manufacturer in Moosic, Pa., who now serves as the immediate past chair of the BSC. Dwight Hikel of Shelter Systems in Westminster, Md., was elected vice chair of the BSC, and Kevin Flaherty of Genesis Homes in Troy, Mich., was elected as second vice chair.

For more information, e-mail Tony Gacek at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8357. 

Best in American Living Award Winners Show Post-Downturn Design Trends

Representing the leading edge in design trends that are shaping the housing industry as it begins to emerge from a prolonged downturn, the winners of the 2010 Best in American Living Awards (BALA) were announced during the NAHB International Builders’ Show earlier this month in Orlando.

The award program, which is sponsored by NAHB’s Design Committee, recognizes exceptional, trend-setting design that can be emulated by builders to improve design in all aspects of the housing industry.

"The BALAs are the most prestigious awards of their kind, setting the benchmark for innovations in residential design," said Mike Nagel, 2010 Design Committee chairman and a partner at Men at Work Chicago LLC. "We are proud to have a long history of honoring those who set the bar high by encouraging creativity, originality and imagination in our industry."

Main floor of Fresco One at The Pinehills

Major BALA categories include the home, room and community of the year. Within each category, awards may be given at the platinum, gold or silver level.

The 2010 Home of the Year was Fresco One at The Pinehills in Plymouth, Mass. Bassenian/Lagoni Architects of Newport Beach, Calif. designed the home, which was built by The Green Company of Newton Centre, Mass.

The home offers seamless indoor/outdoor living in attached townhomes. Its design incorporates elements that are valued in today’s marketplace — including an open plan, separated bedrooms for maximum privacy and an expanded laundry area with work space. The home is attractive to buyers looking for relaxed private entertaining at home and a vibrant, community-oriented lifestyle.

The kitchens of two entries shared top honors as Room of the Year:

  • Spanish Oaks in Austin, Texas, was designed and built by Jauregui, a design-build company in Texas with expertise in architecture, construction, interiors and furnishings. The home's kitchen is designed to appeal to sophisticated affluent buyers who appreciate distinctive architecture, casual living in luxury housing and environmentally friendly materials and energy-efficient appliances.

  • The co-winning kitchen is in a custom home in Elkhorn River Valley designed and built by Curt Hofer and Associates of Omaha, Neb. The kitchen uses contemporary design, a collection of minimalist materials that are repeated throughout the home and a custom designed natural stone fireplace to accomplish a simple yet stunning aesthetic.

Daybreak, a master planned community in Salt Lake City, won Community of the Year honors. Kennecott Land of South Jordan, Utah, developed the mixed-use community.

Daybreak has a planned build-out of 20,000 homes on more than 4,000 acres and represents a “city within a city” that will accommodate significant growth in the rapidly developing Salt Lake City metropolitan area in an environmentally friendly manner.

NAHB has produced a “2010 BALA Portfolio,” which includes information about all of the 2010 winners, a review of design trends and scores of images.

Additional Information about the BALA program can be found at www.nahb.org/BALA.

Home Buyers Looking for Open Floor Plans, Memorable Details

Home buyers are looking for open floor plans, energy-efficient features and lots of closet space, according to panelists who spoke at two design trends seminars during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando earlier this month.

Large living rooms and soaking tubs, on the other hand, are falling out of favor, and consumers don’t want second-floor laundry rooms because they think they make too much noise when people are trying to sleep.

Mostly, prospective buyers are looking for small details: the built-in desk under a stairway, the courtyard tucked between the two downstairs bedrooms. To be successful in the current marketplace, builders should be using such features to “create memory points,” said Kate Brennan of the Chicago design firm Mary Cook and Associates.

Brennan spoke at a seminar for custom builders looking for new ideas in home design for floor plans measuring 2,500 square feet or less.

She and co-presenters John Thatch, of the Dahlin Group Architecture Planning, and Gale Seves, of Open House Production, suggested that these single-family home builders take ideas from successful condominium projects where architects and designers have to make the most of limited space.

For instance, an open floor plan is not only more practical for entertaining — allowing the hosts to interact  with their dinner  guests in a spacious kitchen while they are preparing food — but having fewer walls and closed-off spaces makes the home seem much larger, panelists said.

More than ever, the kitchen is the hub of the house, even if busy families are bringing home takeout. A kitchen island needs to be larger to double as a homework spot, craft table and bill-paying desk — and a place to enjoy coffee on a Sunday morning.

Natural finishes are also more popular, the panelists said.  Recycled flooring, a mix of wood grains on cabinets and architectural details that reflect the indigenous building of the region — like stucco in the Southwest — are more important to today’s buyers.

The panelists also talked about a growing group of home buyers: WINKs — Women With No Kids. These single women have preferences that are distinct from those of the households designers are more accustomed to addressing: the first-time buyers who tend to be singles and young professionals; the move-up buyers, who usually have children; and the empty-nesters.

These women have more buying power than their counterparts a generation ago and are seeking smaller homes, multipurpose rooms for entertaining and intimate “retreat” spaces for themselves.

A survey of 20,000 home buyers in the United States and Canada identified a number of features in new homes that are considered non-negotiable across almost all demographic groups, said Paul Cardis of AVID Ratings, who spoke at a seminar on new design preferences.

The top five features include walk-in closets — mentioned by 66% of first-time buyers as a “must have” — energy-efficient appliances, linen closets, a large kitchen and the overall efficiency of the home, Cardis said.

For more information on design resources available from NAHB, e-mail Jaclyn Toole, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8469.

HBI Job Corps Graduates Recognized for Achievements in Housing Industry

At the NAHB Joint Executive Meeting during the 2011 NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Home Builders Institute (HBI) Job Corps graduates Nicole Robbins and Brian Bader received awards for their exemplary achievements in the home building industry.

Funded by the U.S.Department of Labor, the HBI Job Corps program is the nation’s oldest and largest residential education and job training program for at-risk youth.

“We are proud of the exemplary work Nicole and Brian displayed to win these awards,” said Fred Humphreys, HBI’s president and chief executive officer. “This recognition validates the dedication they both have to their craft and is a testament to their HBI instructors’ commitment to building a skilled workforce.”

Robbins, an HBI electrical program graduate of the San Diego Jobs Corps Center, received the Shirley McVay Wiseman Award for Exceptional Promise from HBI Trustee and Past NAHB President Shirley McVay Wiseman.

Bader, an HBI plumbing program graduate from the Quentin N. Burdick Job Corps Center in Minot, N.D., received the NAHB Chairman’s Award from Bob Jones, the 2010 NAHB chairman.

The Wiseman Award is presented annually to an outstanding female HBI Job Corps graduate who has gone on to achieve success in housing.

“Nicole is a dedicated and tenacious person who works hard at her job and as a volunteer in her community,” said Wiseman.

Robbins, who was the only woman during her time in the program, excelled and became a shop foreman and distinguished herself as an effective leader and mentor to both new and seasoned students.

Since June 2008, Robbins has been employed at Beck Electric in San Diego, where she has proven her leadership, communication skills and value to the company.

The NAHB Chairman’s Award is presented annually to an outstanding Job Corps graduate who has overcome adversity to achieve success in home building.

From the start, Bader trained diligently and he became an integral part of an HBI community service remodeling project at the Minot Air Force Base. Upon completion of the program in 2008, Bader began working as a union apprentice with Mowbray and Son Plumbing and Heating in Minot. Today he is a third-year apprentice and has almost completed his studies to become a certified pipe-fitter.

“Brian exemplifies the reason I became an HBI instructor — to help those individuals who, after struggling with life, decided to change their lives and become more than anyone can imagine,” said his instructor Michael Frank.

For more information on HBI’s Job Corps program, e-mail Keith Albright, or call him at 800-795-7955 x8911.

Months of Work Pay Off for Construction Management Competition Winners

Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Pennsylvania College of Technology and Cumberland-Perry AVTS are the winners of the 2011 Residential Construction Management Competition.

The three NAHB Student Chapters learned that they had won the four-year college, two-year college and secondary competitions, respectively, during the NAHB Student Chapters Awards Ceremony Jan.14 at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

Recipients of the Outstanding Student Chapter awards — which were sponsored by the National Council of the Housing Industry — are Southeast Community College, Milford, Neb., first place; Delgado Community College, New Orleans, second place; and Killingly High School, Danielson, Conn., third place.

Joseph “Joe” Karpinski of Kent State University in Ohio was named Outstanding Educator, an award sponsored by Delmar Cengage Learning. And the NAHB Student Chapters Advisory Board presented a posthumous Distinguished Service Award to Joe Powell of Las Vegas.

The Home Builders Institute administers the NAHB Student Chapters on behalf of NAHB, allowing students who are studying construction to have access to all the benefits the association offers professionals in the home building industry.


Members of the first place two-year schools Residential Construction Management Competition Team from Pennsylvania College of Technology are Thomas Whitehouse, Brandt Hey, Brent Hey and Shane Beckner. The West Branch Susquehanna Builders Association was the team’s HBA sponsor and Barney Kahn was their coach.

Fifty teams representing universities, community colleges, high schools and career technical schools across the United States spent hundreds of hours preparing for this year’s competition, which required students to solve a real-life construction management project and then present their solutions to a judging panel of industry experts.

This year’s project focused on “on-your-lot” builder Sedgewick Homes, a member of the Wilkes County HBA in North Carolina.

Four-year college teams had to write and defend a complete management proposal requesting approval from a group of investors to move forward with a business plan to build a Sedgewick Homes model home complex with administrative offices on 2.38 acres of land in rural North Carolina and launch the company’s sales, marketing and construction operations program.

The proposal consisted of an estimate, schedule, budget, marketing and risk analysis, cash-flow statement, green building initiatives and other related information the team deemed important.

Two-year colleges and secondary schools developed and defended a complete set of working drawings, a detailed materials estimate and a complete construction schedule for a specific Sedgewick home plan that had the qualifications to meet the Silver Level of the National Green Building Standard.

After the problem was first distributed to the competitors, two-year colleges were also asked to meet a change order that would bring the home’s qualifications up to those at the Emerald Level of the standard.


Members of the first place secondary schools Residential Construction Management Competition Team from Cumberland Perry AVTS are Ray Atticks, Steph Weber, Nick DeMuro, Greg Houtz and Billy Brougher. The Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Harrisburg was the team’s HBA sponsor and Jody Snider was their coach.

“I don’t think there are enough words to describe what this award means to us, after three months of work and the countless hours we put in. Last year we won second place, so this year we decided we were going to beat last year’s team, and we were going to bring it home,” said Greg Houtz, who was on the Cumberland Perry AVTS team.

Thomas Whitehouse, a member of the Pennsylvania College of Technology team, said he and his teammates spent most of their weekends prior to the competition working on their project.

“We placed well the past few years, and I knew we put together a really good presentation. We worked really hard — we put in 40 and 50 hours some weekends. So this is really big for us. We are a small school in Williamsport, Pa., and this is really big for our school,” Whitehouse said.

Michael Stone, a member of the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo team, said he and his fellow teammates were glad to be bringing the trophy back to their college, but the competition itself was so much more.

“This was a great professional experience. Through the competition, we got exposure to the real world, how to put together a proposal and work as a team. It’s a far different experience than we can get in a classroom,” Stone said.  

Four-year college programs placing in the competition were Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, first place; Middle Tennessee State University, second place; Brigham Young University-Provo, third place; University of Florida, fourth place; Western Carolina University, fifth place; and Central Washington University, Rookie of the Year.

Two-year college winners were Pennsylvania College of Technology, first place; Brigham Young University-Idaho, second place; North Dakota State College of Science, third place; and Tarrant County (Texas) College Southeast, Rookie of the Year.

Secondary school winners were Cumberland-Perry AVTS, (Pa.), first place; Camden County (Ga.) High School, second place; Shelby County (Ky.) High School, third place and Rookie of the Year.

Two-year and secondary school program events were sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University, creating a unique connection among the program levels. All placing teams took home Construction Master Calculators from Calculated Industries.

Thirty-one students chosen by their faculties for their commitment to home building and their NAHB Student Chapters also were recognized at the awards ceremony with Outstanding Student Awards.

They are: Julie Braschayko, Alexandria Technical and Community College; John Michael Arnaud, Appalachian State University; Joseph Christensen, Brigham Young University-Provo; Michael Stone, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo; Cameron Scott Gardell, Camden County High School; Mark Kenney, Central Michigan University; Spencer Conway, Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center; Nathan Fields, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; Brandon Ray Schelling, Colorado State University; and Lee David Pepin, Dunwoody College of Technology.  

Also named Outstanding Students were Keith Gilchrest, Fitchburg State University; Patrick Smith; Georgia Institute of Technology; Stacey Goodmen, Georgia Southern University; Ben Warren, Illinois State University; Zac Meadows, Jefferson State Community College; Kaitlin Gwirtz, Kent State University; Quinn Berube, Killingly High School; Elijah Miklos, Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center; Erik J. Koch, Northcentral Technical College; Benjamin Clark, Pennsylvania College of Technology; Trent Ellis, Purdue University; Veronica Kessler, Purdue University North Central.

Also named were Michael DeJonge, Southeast Community College; Nick Fedzen, Steel Center Area Vocational Technical School; Thomas Gunter, Tarrant County College Southeast; Roshita Jordan, University of Arkansas-Little Rock; Michael Golden, University of Denver; Nico Hohman, University of Florida; Charles Emma, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Andrew Schellpepper, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; James D. Stone, University of Nebraska Kearney; and Stephen Wesley Hale, University of Texas at Tyler.

Competition judges were Pam Anderson, Anderson Construction; Chris Edwards, Pulte Group; Jim Gronski, Jim Gronski Construction; George Murphy, Wayne Homes; Charlie Place, North Lake College; Kevin Procaccino, Kenandom Design Consultants; Craig Smith, 70 West Builders; Dave Tucker, Sedgewick Homes; Jeff Ury, Winsome Builders; and Dave Yelovich, Tilson Homes.

For more information about NAHB Student Chapters and the Residential Management Construction Competition, e-mail Page Browning, or call her at 800-795-7955 x8918.

Keep up with the activities of the NAHB Student Chapters on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NAHBstudentchapters.

Armstrong Cabinets Encompass Top Design Trends for 2011

Consumers continue to be influenced by the nation’s weak economy and are turning away from material goods in favor of experiences, according to Samantha Strong, editor of Beautiful Kitchens and Baths magazine, and Carol Schalla, editor of Midwest Living magazine, both of which are published by Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corporation.

The editors were invited by Armstrong Cabinets to the manufacturer’s beautifully appointed showroom in Des Moines to present what they see as the top trends for 2011.

“The kitchen is the do-it-all room of the house. And the best kitchens do it all without looking as though they break a sweat,” said Hart.

“There has been a steady decline in both the square footage and volume in home design,” she said. “The preference seems to be for more flexible, open and informal layouts that allow for both ease of movement and fostering a space conducive to a family’s specific mode of living.”

“We’re downsizing as a nation, building smarter homes for energy-, resource- and cost-savings,” said Schalla. “We’re seeing fewer two-story homes, less square footage, fewer bedrooms and baths and fewer three-car garages.”

Schalla also noted a shift to remodeling, “as we’re staying put and rethinking our existing homes, and re-envisioning and re-inventing existing space. Smaller improvements fit our pocketbooks better.”

Also, “de-cluttering is important,” she said, “as being organized equals time for more important leisure and life quality pursuits. We’re using cleverer, smarter storage in more rooms in the house — including banquettes in kitchens and cabinets as media centers in family rooms.”

Among the Armstrong Cabinet products corresponding to the top trends the editors expect to see this year are eco-friendly Origins cabinets constructed of PureBond, a urea formaldehyde-free, soy-based adhesive; door styles like Arborcrest, Moderno and Town & Country; banquettes; and a number of organizational solutions.

“The newest trend in cabinets is not just exterior aesthetics, but personalized storage, including pull-out shelves, roll-out pantry drawers, built-in wine racks and cookware organizers,” said Tosha Di Irio, Armstrong’s marketing communications manager.

“We also take Universal Design in kitchens a step further, with innovative products that can accommodate all people, including those of different ability, height and age — including innovations which only Armstrong can offer, such as a removable front sink base cabinet.”

Based in Lancaster, Pa., Armstrong World Industries is a member of the National Council of the Housing Industry — The Leading Suppliers of NAHB.

This feature is solely for educational and informational purposes. Nothing on this page should be construed as policy, an endorsement, warranty or guaranty by the National Association of Home Builders of the featured product or the product manufacturer. The National Association of Home Builders expressly disclaims any responsibility for any damages arising from the use, application or reliance on any information contained on this page.

Endowment Awards 2011 HELP Grants to Pittsburg State, Penn State Universities

The National Housing Endowment, the philanthropic arm of NAHB, recently awarded up to $195,000 in HELP ― Homebuilding Education Leadership Program — grants to Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan., and Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa., to help fund improvements to their residential construction management programs.

The grants were announced at the NAHB Student Chapter Award Ceremony at the 2011 NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando earlier this month. Nearly 1,000 students and faculty attended the ceremony.

“You students today are so lucky to have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the building industry in the classroom,” Rick Judson, 2011 NAHB second vice chairman of NAHB, told the attendees. “I learned it the hard way and I am very jealous of the educational experience you have in your schools, with your NAHB Student Chapters and the investment made by the National Housing Endowment in these schools.”

The 2011 grants were awarded to:

  • Pittsburg State University, which was awarded $95,000 over four years to enhance its emphasis in residential construction, consolidate courses and modify curriculum to include NAHB designations. The grant will help enable the university to create a more comprehensive curriculum and provide its students with a competitive advantage in today’s job market.

  • Pennsylvania State University, which was awarded up to $100,000 over three years to match a grant awarded by Lutron Electronics. The two grants will enable Penn State to start an endowed fund that enables an industry practitioner to annually teach a residential construction class and an industrial lighting class. The courses enable Penn State to expand its residential construction program and move closer to offering students the ability to minor in the program.

“Through the HELP grants, the National Housing Endowment works to help the residential construction industry develop more advanced and effective approaches to home building as well as to ensure that the industry has an ample and well-trained supply of future workers and leaders,” said Gary Garczynski, endowment chairman and 2002 NAHB president.

The endowment established the HELP initiative in 2006 to bolster or start residential construction management programs in two- and four-year colleges and universities across the country and to increase the number of qualified graduates entering the industry. To date, the endowment has awarded more than $1.5 million in HELP grants to educational institutions.

For more information on HELP grants, call the endowment at 800-368-5242 x8069, or visit www.nationalhousingendowment.org.

HELP is the signature grant program of the endowment and the cornerstone of its education effort. More than $1.5 million has been awarded to educational institutions since the program’s inception.

Previous HELP grant recipients include California Baptist University; California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo; Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; Colorado State University; East Carolina University; the Georgia Institute of Technology; Jefferson State Community College; John A. Logan College; the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Middle Tennessee State University; the University of Nebraska; the University of Nebraska-Kearney; North Dakota State University; Northern Kentucky University; Prairie View A&M University; Purdue University; Texas A&M University; and Western Carolina University.  

For more information on HELP grants, call the endowment at 800-368-5242 x8483, or visit www.nationalhousingendowment.org.

 

Nation's Home Builders Elect Leadership for 2011


Nielson


Rutenberg


Judson


Kelly


Jones


Howard

During its Jan. 14 meeting during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando, the NAHB Board of Directors elected the association’s Senior Officers for 2011.

Taking the helm as NAHB's Chairman of the Board this year is Bob Nielsen, a Reno, Nev.-based home builder. A leader in the Reno area home building and development industries for more than 25 years, Nielsen is president of Shelter Properties, a development and management company.

Nielsen has been at the forefront of NAHB's efforts to strengthen the residential construction industry in response to the current economic downturn. At a time when many banks are under pressure to reduce lending to the housing industry, Nielsen has been working with the banking industry and its regulators to restore the flow of credit to builders for sound projects.

"Policy makers and the financial services industry need to understand that you can't paint the building industry with a broad brush," Nielsen said. "There are many solid projects in vibrant markets that are a good investment right now. The housing industry needs credit for those projects in order to get housing going again as an engine of job growth in America."

Also moving up on the association's leadership ladder is Gainesville, Fla.-based home builder Barry Rutenberg, who was elected to be NAHB's First Vice Chairman of the Board. The president of Barry Rutenberg and Associates, Inc., he has more than 35 years of experience in the housing industry and has developed more than a dozen communities and 1,000 homes in the Gainesville area.

Rick Judson, a builder and developer from Charlotte, N.C., was elected to the post of Second Vice Chairman. Judson, who owns the Evergreen Development Group, has several decades of experience in land development and construction of single-family, multifamily and commercial projects.

Kevin Kelly, a Delaware builder and developer with more than 30 years of experience in the building industry, was elected as the 2011 Third Vice Chairman of the Board. Kelly has been a builder and developer since he joined Leon N. Weiner & Associates in 1979 and became actively involved at the Home Builders Association of Delaware. His building experience includes land development, multifamily and single-family home building, construction financing and property management.

2010 NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., remains on the leadership ladder as Immediate Past Chairman. Jones is president of Robert R. Jones Homes, specializing in land development and the design and construction of single-family luxury homes throughout metropolitan Detroit.

Rounding out the association's leadership is NAHB Chief Executive Officer Jerry Howard, from Washington, D.C. Howard heads up a professional staff of more than 250 working out of the National Housing Center in Washington. He has served as the association's CEO since February of 2001. Previously, Howard was NAHB's chief tax counsel.

Schaffer Named NAHB Associate of the Year, Three Associates Honored

In recognition of his tireless advocacy efforts on behalf of home builders and remodelers and his charitable donations, Greg Schaffer has been named the 2010 Associate of the Year by NAHB.

Schaffer, vice president for the Contract Sales Division at American/Kennedy Hahn Appliance in Madison, Wis., was nominated for the award by the Wisconsin Builders Association.

“Greg understands that in this tough economy, builders need more support than ever from product manufacturers, suppliers and service providers — and his support has been unstinting,” said 2010 NAHB Chairman Bob Jones.

In 2004, Schaffer’s company pioneered a quality certification program launched by the NAHB Research Center; since then, the company has been recertified every year.

Schaffer is a longtime contributor to the state and national builder political action committees and his company makes regular product donations for builder-supported charitable projects such as the Ronald McDonald House and Extreme Makeover, Home Edition.

In 2008, he was honored with the Bright Spot Award for his ability to inspire others in the state association and to recruit and retain members. Schaffer is also active in his local home builders association, the Madison Area Builders Association, where he has served on the board since 1999.

In addition, three new members have been named to the Society of Honored Associates, a distinguished group of volunteers whose support of local and state home builders associations and contributions to NAHB sets them apart. Named this year were:

Schaffer and the new associates were honored at the annual Associates Breakfast on Jan. 13 during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

NAHB Associate members represent a diverse group of occupations involved in the home building industry, including subcontractors, utilities, title companies, interior designers, building material manufacturers and dealers and real estate agents, among others.

For more information, e-mail William Deiss at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8231.

FedEx Offers NAHB Members Big Savings on Express, Freight and Ground Shipping

NAHB members can save up to 29% on select FedEx Express shipping services and up to 70% on FedEx Freight.

There are no costs and no minimum shipping requirements to take advantage of this member benefit.

  • FedEx Express: Save Up to 29%*
    Fast, reliable delivery of time-critical shipments

  • FedEx Ground: Save up to 20%*
    Cost-effective delivery of shipments that don't need the speed of express shipping

  • FedEx Freight: Save up to 70%*
    Day-definite delivery of LTL (less-than-truckload) freight, palletized or non-palletized
    Specializing in reliable, responsive next-day and second-day regional service in the continental U.S.

Drop off shipments at thousands of convenient locations. Ship and manage packages and take advantage of shipping tools and resources at fedex.com.

For more information, or to enroll in this program, click here, and enter passcode HVCSP8.

For more information, call 1-800-MEMBERS (800-636-2377) between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. EST Mondays through Fridays to speak to a dedicated member service representative.

* For terms and conditions, click here.

Other Member Advantage Discounts

For the most up-to-date details on the Member Advantage discount program and all of the participating companies, go to www.nahb.org/MA.

Budget Has Constructed Special Savings for NAHB Members

NAHB members can save big on Budget rentals. When making reservations, mention BCD #Z536900 to save up to 20% on Budget car rentals.

Visit budget.com/nahb, or call 800-527-0700 to make reservations.

Other Member Advantage Discounts

For the most up-to-date details on the Member Advantage discount program and all of the participating companies, go to www.nahb.org/MA.

NAHB Members Can Save Up to 25% With Avis

NAHB members can take advantage of exclusive savings from Avis. When making reservations, mention AWD #G572900 and save up to 25%.

Visit avis.com/nahb, or call 800-331-1212 to make reservations.

Other Member Advantage Discounts

For the most up-to-date details on the Member Advantage discount program and all of the participating companies, go to www.nahb.org/MA.

NAHB Calendar of Events

Feb. 3

Design Trends and Market Trends

Webinar

March 16

Legislative Conference

Washington, D.C.

April 9-10

Lands Roundtable and Workshop

Washington, D.C.

May 1-3

National Green Building Conference

Salt Lake City, Utah

May 2

National Green Building Awards

Salt Lake City, Utah

May 18-21

Spring NAHB Board of Directors Meeting

Washington, D.C.

Aug. 17-20

Executive Officers Council Seminar

Naples, Fla.

Oct. 23-25

Building Systems Councils SHOWCASE

Baltimore, Md.

Nov. 9-11

NAHB Summit on Association Excellence

Dallas, Texas

Learn More About 2009 NAHB Professional Development Offerings

See the variety of professional development offerings available through NAHB and its local associations in this brochure

Or, search for specific course offerings and check out upcoming conferences.