August 13, 2007
By Brian Catalde
NAHB President and
Jerry Howard
NAHB Executive VP and CEO
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An expected crackdown on illegal immigrants is underway
following the failure of crucial immigration reform legislation in Congress.

After signaling that it would do so for some time, the Bush Administration on Aug. 10 unveiled a series of measures to crack down on illegal immigrants. The 25-point plan, announced by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, includes adding more border patrol agents and infrastructure (fencing, barriers and surveillance equipment) at the Mexican border; increasing civil fines by approximately 25% for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants; and proposing an administrative rule that would require federal contractors to use E-Verify (formerly called the Basic Pilot Program), an Internet-based employee verification system.

Of special note to the business community, within the next few days it is expected that the Department of Homeland Security will publish final new rules on how employers must respond if they receive a no-match letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that a worker's name or Social Security number does not match agency records. The SSA sent out 127,000 such letters in 2005, and projects 140,000 letters will be sent this year. Many of these letters are the result of clerical and other errors, and do not necessarily mean that the employee is an illegal alien. The new rules require employers to respond to SSA no-match letters within a set period of time, and to either fire employees who cannot rectify their no-match situations or to face criminal prosecution if the employee is in fact an illegal worker. 

Once the final rules are published, NAHB will provide full details along with a compliance checklist for builders to follow in the event that a no-match letter is received from the Social Security Administration. Read more in NBN Online, or contact David Crump (x8491).

Appearing on The Wall Street Journal Report
on CNBC TV on July 29, NAHB Executive Vice President & CEO Jerry Howard was introduced as a representative of "the largest and most influential housing group in the nation" by host Maria Baritromo. The interview, titled "Taking Stock of Housing," focused primarily on the state of the housing market, issues in the subprime sector, impacts of the housing slowdown on the broader economy and Jerry's advice to would-be home buyers. Jerry emphasized that, to some extent, we are in "uncharted waters" in the current downcycle, which has been triggered by different factors than previous downturns. Acknowledging that housing will likely produce "a drag on economic growth for a while," he also noted the solid underlying demographics for housing and the potential for long-term growth in the market once things do eventually bottom out, most likely starting next year. Asked whether potential home buyers would be better off waiting it out to see if prices will continue to go down, Jerry emphasized that market conditions for buyers are in fact quite good at the present time, with plenty of inventory from which to choose and interest rates that remain in a historically favorable range. For more information on this interview, please contact Paul Lopez (x8409). 

NAHB Member Benefit: The appearance of NAHB Senior staff and officers on mainstream media outlets is key to getting the views of our members on various issues heard, understood and accurately reported. Not only does it increase our visibility and credibility with the press, but it can lead to greater public understanding of, and sympathy for, the challenges that confront home builders on a daily basis as they operate in one of the most highly regulated industries on earth.  [return to top]
Remodeling activity slowed in the second quarter,
according to NAHB's latest Remodeling Market Index (RMI), released on Aug. 6. The RMI measures remodeler perceptions of market demand for current and future residential remodeling projects, and any number over 50 indicates that the majority of those surveyed view market conditions as improving. Consistent with the overall housing downswing, the RMI's component gauging current market conditions slipped from 46.1 in the first quarter to 44.8 in the second quarter, seasonally adjusted, and the future expectations measure declined by more than two points to 44.1. According to NAHB Chief Economist David Seiders, "Not surprisingly, the remodeling market is following the downswing we are seeing in the overall housing market. We expect some further erosion in the second half of this year and in 2008, followed by a gradual recovery in 2009 and beyond."

The RMI "special questions" section this quarter focused on aging-in-place remodeling work. Results indicated that 72% of respondents' companies are involved in this kind of home modification work, up from 60% in 2006. Some of the most popular types of aging-in-place remodeling projects included installation of grab bars (90%); higher toilets (75%); curbless showers (63%) and widening doorways (56%). More than 75% of respondents noted an increase in the number of requests for aging-in-place features over the past five years. Read more in NAHB's press release or see the RMI tables online. Contact: Gopal Ahluwalia, x8480.

NAHB Member Benefit: NAHB's economic surveys and analysis help our members achieve a better understanding of current market trends and where they are headed, while our media outreach in this regard helps to firmly establish NAHB as the credible source of information on the housing industry nationwide. This credibility with the media ensures that accurate data on the housing market is transmitted to potential home buyers and owners, thereby ensuring that they have the best information in front of them when deciding to buy or renovate a new or existing home. [return to top]
Age-qualified adult housing isn't yet living up to its potential,
according to a new study by NAHB housing analysts Paul Emrath and Helen Fei Liu. Despite the very positive demographics for this market segment given the aging of the baby boom generation, age-qualified active-adult housing that requires residents to be 55 years or older accounts for only 1.4% of all owner-occupied units.

Data from the 2005 American Housing Survey show that there are 21.6 million home owners aged 55 and up who are living in ordinary communities – about a 35.2% share of total owner-occupied housing units. The report also observes that age-qualified adult homes are not evenly distributed across the country or within localities. Instead, a disproportionate share of these homes appears to be concentrated in the South, with the smallest share in the Midwest. "Possible explanations for this pattern include population density, climate and the price of homes," say the researchers. The AHS data also shows that 71% of age-qualified adult homes are in the suburbs, while only 14.3% are in the central city. Read more about this study in the August 13 edition of NBN Online, or contact Paul Emrath (x8449) or Helen Fei Liu (x8697).

NAHB Member Benefit: NAHB's expert analysis of housing data helps our members evaluate ongoing trends and potential opportunities in their market, while continually cementing NAHB's reputation with the media and public as the Voice of the Housing Industry. [return to top]
Seeking improvements to energy-efficient home tax credits,
NAHB members and staff met on July 30 with top officials of several government agencies as the House prepared to debate energy legislation at the end of last month. NAHB representatives at the meeting included Energy Subcommittee Chairman Chip Dence and Tax Credit Working Group leader Mike Hodgson; representing the government were officials and staff from the Department of Energy, including Assistant Secretary of Energy Alexander Karsner, and tax lawyers from the Treasury Department and IRS. Since a major hurdle to improving the tax credit (Section 45L of the Internal Revenue Code) has been the apparent confusion regarding the role and authority of various government agencies, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss policy recommendations that would alleviate this situation and thereby improve the utilization of these tax breaks.

The credit is currently set to expire at the end of 2008. Although an extension was not included in the House's latest energy bill, NAHB continues to fight for an expansion and extension of this important market incentive to improve the energy efficiency of the nation's housing stock. Contact: Rob Dietz (x8285) or Elizabeth Odina (x8570).   [return to top]
The Monday Morning Briefing will be on siesta next week
but will return to your e-mail box on Aug. 27. So don't look for this report on Aug. 20, but definitely check us out for what will be our last issue prior to the Fall Board of Directors meeting!   [return to top]

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