The Fed Chairman missed the mark
when he testified before Congress in support of strong growth limitations on the housing GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Feb. 24.

While acknowledging the important role that housing plays in the nation's economy and in American society, Alan Greenspan nevertheless downplayed the essential role that Fannie and Freddie have in promoting homeownership and providing home mortgage products at the lowest possible cost to consumers. In effect, the Chairman did what we feared most: rather than constructively contributing to the debate on how to develop an effective regulatory system for the GSEs, he turned the forum into a referendum on the housing finance system. NAHB immediately responded to the Federal Reserve Chairman's remarks via a strongly worded public statement by Jerry Howard.
Contact Michael Strauss (x8252) for more.

Another positive development on Northwest salmon
came on Feb. 24 in the form of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to leave in place a lower court ruling that "set aside" the listing of the Oregon Coho salmon population as an endangered species. NAHB and the Oregon BIA submitted an amicus brief in the Alsea Valley case, supporting the Coho de-listing. In the end, the 9th Circuit decided it lacked jurisdiction in the matter, allowing the previous ruling to stand. That's good news for NAHB members, first because it means that no Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations can presently be extended to protect Coho, and second because the defects underlying the Coho listing arguably apply to a score of other fish species throughout the Pacific Northwest. The bottom line: this latest decision will likely force the National Marine Fisheries Service to take a long, hard look at its entire ESA regime in the Pacific Northwest. Contact Duane Desiderio (x8146) for details. [return to top]

Calling all builders with Habitat Conservation Plans:
NAHB needs your help to fend off mounting challenges to these worthy endeavors. With two crucial elements of HCPs the "No Surprises" clause and the Permit Revocation Rule recently sent back to the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) for further consideration and public comment, fringe environmental groups smell blood in the water. This is the chance some have been waiting for to sink HCPs once and for all, since, as builders know, the program can't work without the element of predictability that "No Surprises" provides. That's why NAHB legal and regulatory staff are on the prowl for documented HCP success stories from our members. If you have an approved Habitat Conservation Plan, we need the following information: a description of your experience in the HCP development process, the cost of the HCP, and the status of the species in your HCP. Timing is critical, as an FWS announcement on this is imminent. Please contact Mike Mittelholzer at x8660. [return to top]

New-home sales cooled a bit in January
according to government numbers released Feb. 26. The Commerce Department reported a 1.7% decline from December's upwardly revised sales rate, bringing the seasonally adjusted annual pace to 1.11 million units in the first month of this year. That's still 9.6% above the sales pace set in January of 2003, however. While harsh weather may have affected sales in some portions of the country, overall, builders remain quite upbeat about the single-family housing market. The Midwest was the only region to post a gain in new-home sales this time around, but inventories of unsold homes remain reasonably trim throughout the country a good sign of the general health of the marketplace. See our press release[return to top]

Plan ahead for New-Homes Month
this April with special resources from NAHB Public Affairs. The 2004 New Homes Month Promotional Kit is now available online, and it's positively brimming with ways to help HBAs and members call attention to the myriad benefits of owning a new home. This year's kit includes op-eds, consumer articles, a press release, homeownership ads and a proclamation, along with special tips for making the most of New Homes Month in your community. Stacy Hope (x8132) has more information. [return to top]

NAHB events in March

National Green Building Conference
              Austin, TX

3/21  Log Homes Council President's Tour
              Bangor, ME

3/28  NAHB Multifamily Pillars of the Industry Conference
              Palm Springs, CA

[return to top]

March 1, 2004

By Bobby Rayburn
NAHB President and
Jerry Howard
NAHB Executive VP and CEO
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