May 9, 2005
By David F. Wilson
NAHB President and
Jerry Howard
NAHB Executive VP and CEO
 
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A "soft landing" and continued good health for the housing market
— that's the consensus forecast of economists speaking at NAHB's 69th Construction Forecast Conference, held at the National Housing Center and broadcast live over the Internet on May 5.

The event attracted a standing-room-only crowd and drew substantial media attention — including reporters from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Kiplinger's and Nightly Business Report, as well as syndicated real estate columnist Ken Harney, to name just a few. They heard from some of the nation's top economists that, while the Federal Reserve can be expected to gradually tighten monetary policy (resulting in higher interest rates), the last thing Chairman Greenspan wants to do is derail the healthy housing market. Instead, the Fed is simply "taking its foot off the gas" as housing coasts to a level speed with decent momentum. NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders predicts long-term fixed-rate mortgages will average 6.1% this year before gravitating up to a 6.6% average in 2006. Meanwhile, residential fixed investment should post a 1% growth rate this year before becoming a neutral or possibly slightly negative influence on GDP in 2006. A few very hot markets in places like California, Nevada and South Florida may be due for some cooling down, said the economists, but few can expect a major downturn. The May 9 edition of Nation's Building News Online will have complete coverage of NAHB's Construction Forecast Conference.

BUILD-PAC hit a home run at the Spring Board Meeting,
raising nearly $90,000 toward its $4 million goal for all of 2005. According to organizers, this was an all-time record for fundraising at any single NAHB board meeting. Most Monday Morning Briefing readers, as members of the NAHB leadership, know that BUILD-PAC is our industry's outstanding and extremely powerful political action committee. You also know that ours is one of the most respected and largest PACs on Capitol Hill, with an incredible success rate in getting pro-housing candidates elected to federal office. Now you can get all the latest news and more on our PAC activities with BUILD-PAConnection, NAHB's latest e-newsletter that's authored by 2005 BUILD-PAC Chairman Earl Sharp. Visit nahb.org or contact Denise Mills (x8459) for details. [return to top]

A new EPA Administrator has been sworn in
after winning confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Stephen L. Johnson was officially sworn into office on May 2. He has been Acting EPA Administrator since President Bush nominated former Administrator Mike Leavitt to replace Tommy Thompson as Secretary of Health and Human Services, and he's the 11th U.S. EPA Administrator in history. Johnson is also the first career staff member to lead the agency, having been a part of the government agency for the last 24 years. NAHB staff has had the opportunity to work with him on several previous occasions, and we anticipate a continuation of this same working relationship as we discuss with him and his staff such important issues as wetlands regulation and storm water enforcement efforts. Read more about the new Administrator on the EPA's Web site. [return to top]

One more reminder: Please call your local code official
and ask him to support a rollback of the unjustified insulation requirement in the 2006 ICC codes that would increase the cost of building a new home by $600 to $1,000 or more. In previous reports, we've told you about the proposed code change that would require increased insulation R-values for wood-framed construction in all climate zones. Unfortunately, many types of insulation can't achieve the new ratings using standard 2X4 wall construction. That means builders will need to either switch to 2X6 walls, use costly high-density fiberglass bats or attach additional insulation to exterior walls — a costly proposition, whichever way you cut it. And the changes would save consumers only pennies on the dollar, according to the Department of Energy. Nevertheless, the only chance we have to overturn the measure is for a two-thirds majority of voting code officials to approve a rollback at the fall code hearings. That's why we need your help. Every NAHB member can do his or her part by contacting their local code authority on this issue. Talking points and a sample letter are available at www.nahb.org/EC16, or contact John Loyer at x8303 for more info.  [return to top]

Like our new look?
Our regular readers may have noticed that this week's Monday Morning Briefing Letter looks a little different than usual. We hope our new format and sharper colors help you find what you're looking for, and are in keeping with the updated looks of NAHB.org and Nation's Building News Online. It's just one way in which NAHB is constantly upgrading and refreshing our communications vehicles and other member services to keep you informed and interested. Look for more changes to come! [return to top]

A special note to our readers:
 

Please consider donating to the Home Builders Care/
National Housing Endowment-Tsunami Shelter Fund
.

Make your check payable and send it to:

The National Housing Endowment*
1201 15th St. NW
Washington, DC 20005

*Kindly write "Tsunami Shelter Fund" in the memo field of your check.
 Contact: Kym Kilbourne (x8447).


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Upcoming events

Date

Event

Location

May 16-18

Building for Boomers and Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium

Chantilly, VA
(Washington metro area)

May 22-24

Building Systems Councils' Plant Tour

Charlotte, NC

May 23

*National Membership Day*

NATIONWIDE

June 13-15

NAHB/BALA Design Institute
for Builders

Denver, CO

June 26-28

Concrete Technologies Tour

Kansas City, MO

  [return to top]

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