September 7, 2009
By Joe Robson
NAHB Chairman and
Jerry Howard
NAHB President and CEO
 
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NAHB's key advocacy messages are gaining traction
as Congress gets ready to head back to work in September.

In the newly completed first phase of our Revive Housing, Restore America grassroots campaign, we chalked up scores of meetings with members of Congress and their staffs, a flurry of letter-writing and phone calls to those offices, and an impressive amount of media coverage for our primary goals: 1) extension of the first-time home buyer tax credit; 2) correction of faulty appraisal practices; 3) easing of the credit crunch for housing production loans; and 4) expansion of the tax code’s net operating loss carryback provision for businesses.

This past week alone, NAHB President Jerry Howard conducted interviews with the Baltimore Sun, CNNMoney, Dow Jones Market Watch, Bloomberg and the San Jose Mercury News on the need to expand the home buyer tax credit to spur job growth and move housing and the economy forward. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Sun – hometown newspaper of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – published a great editorial in favor of extending the tax credit, citing NAHB support for the measure. And, local HBAs have been doing a fantastic job of spreading the word about the tax credit, with great news coverage tied to their efforts across the country. One especially notable example is the HBA of Greater Kansas City's YouTube video depicting their members speaking about the hardships of the downturn, which they sent to their members of Congress. You can watch it here. And did you happen to catch Jerry's interview with U.S. News & World Report online last week?

Just as important, AD&C and appraisal issues were at the top of the agenda in NAHB meetings with prominent government officials this week, including Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Michael Barr and Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consumer Protection Eric Stein.

Meanwhile, NAHB has developed several new resources to help our HBAs spread the word in their local markets, including a consumer-focused print ad, Web banners, letters to the editor, and a customizable press release template and table with local data. Stay tuned to this report and Nation's Building News Online for further updates!

Welcome to our newest readers!
Starting with this special Labor Day edition, distribution of The Monday Morning Briefing Letter is being expanded to include ALL NAHB members. As explained in an all-member communication sent by the Senior Officers on Sept. 2, this weekly update on NAHB actions and housing market news has traditionally been sent primarily to members of the NAHB leadership, including Area Chairmen, State Reps, HBA officers and Executive Officers. Now, in the interest of stepping up our communications to you about what NAHB is doing on your behalf during these tough times for our industry, this special report will be broadcast to all members for whom we have a current e-mail address on file – unless, of course, you choose to opt-out of receiving it. It is the Senior Officers' fervent hope that this move to further open the lines of communication between our leadership and grassroots members will help keep everyone "in the loop" and aware of how NAHB membership works for you and your business every single day of the week. Please enjoy this member benefit with our compliments! [return to top]
Meeting with the FHA Commissioner
and his key advisors on Sept. 2, NAHB Chairman Joe Robson along with President and CEO Jerry Howard and NAHB staff discussed a range of single-family and multifamily mortgage insurance issues with this important official. We conveyed to Commissioner David Stevens NAHB's concerns regarding ongoing appraisal problems and the need for FHA guidance on condominium mortgage insurance. At Stevens's request, NAHB is sending the FHA detailed recommendations in these areas. In addition, we are glad to report that the FHA Commissioner accepted our invitation for him to address NAHB's Executive Board during the Fall Board of Directors meeting week in Chicago. Please direct questions on this item to MondayMorningQuestions@nahb.com. [return to top]
The latest housing data provided some encouraging news
this past week, with new-home sales, pending contracts on existing homes, NAHB surveys of home builders who focus on the active-adult market, and even the latest Case Shiller report all showing marked improvement.

New-home sales data for July, released by the U.S. Commerce department on Aug. 26, showed a 9.6% gain in activity from the previous month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 units. The median sales price of new homes sold in July was $210,000, while the average sales price was $269,200. Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale continued to shrink, to 271,000 units. This represented a 7.5-month supply at the current sales pace. Read the government's full report here.

The National Assocation of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index (PHS), released Sept. 1, revealed a sixth consecutive month of increases in contract activity for pending home sales, a pattern not seen in the history of the index since it began in 2001. Read the NAR data here.

NAHB's 55+ Housing Market Index, released Aug. 21, notched up one point in the second quarter to a level of 15, due entirely to a gain in the current single-family sales component. Meanwhile, each of the 55+ HMI's component indexes gauging future expectations (single-family for sale, condos, and multifamily for rent) registered declines this time around. View NAHB's 55+ HMI press release here and see the numbers in a chart here.

Please direct questions on the above items to MondayMorningQuestions@nahb.com.
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Troubling changes to the EPA's Lead Paint Rule are in the offing
due to a recent settlement agreement between EPA and public advocacy groups that were suing the agency. Importantly, the anticipated rule changes do NOT effect the April 2010 deadline requiring all professonal remodelers to obtain lead-safe work practice training and certification if they conduct work in homes or child-occupied facilities built before 1978.

In the first expected proposed rulemaking, EPA would remove the "opt-out" provision that allows home owners to sign a waiver stating that they have no children under age six or pregnant women in their household. (As the rule currently reads, if a homeowner signs this waiver, the remodeler does not have to use lead-safe work practices during the remodeling job.) NAHB expects that this change will greatly increase the number of homes subject to the new rule. The second of EPA's soon-to-be-proposed rulemakings would require dust sampling and, in some cases, a mandate that remodelers satisfy a numeric limit on the amount of lead in dust – known also as "clearance." The cost of performing clearance testing to determine this limit can be from $140-$180 for up to four samples, though this number could vary dramatically in certain locations. NAHB is concerned that both of these changes will greatly increase the cost of remodeling and force many home owners to undertake work themselves or possibly hire unscrupulous contractors to do the work.

Importantly, while EPA must propose the above-mentioned changes, the final rules to be promulgated by the agency cannot be changed as a result of a legal settlement. Instead, they must be based on the administrative record that is created during the proposal stage – in other words, comments that are submitted to the agency. With this in mind, NAHB will certainly make our concerns heard during the comment period. As soon as EPA submits its formal proposal, we will be seeking member input in developing our official comments as well as in communicating our concerns to Congress. In the meantime, NAHB members should know that an array of resources to help you prepare for implementation of EPA's "Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule" in April 2010 are available to you online at: www.nahb.org/leadpaint

Please direct questions on this item to
MondayMorningQuestions@nahb.com. [return to top]

Helping consumers access the first-time buyer tax credit
ahead of the Nov. 30 expiration date is the aim of NAHB's specially developed Web site at FederalHousingTaxCredit.com, which has logged over 4 million visits this year to date. The site provides one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly explanations of the tax credit, including information on who qualifies for it, how to get upfront money from the credit  to assist with downpayment and closing costs, and other details. It also provides a helpful "frequently asked questions" section and directs consumers to other appropriate information sources. Our members can direct their customers to this site using NAHB-provided Web site banners and other promotional resources that are available to you online (note, you must be logged into NAHB.org with your username and password to view these resources). In addition, you may have noticed that the NAHB.org Web site now features a "countdown clock" for the tax credit's expiration date of Nov. 30. We hope this visual reminder of the upcoming deadline will help encourage consumers who visit our site to make their move while the timing's right. So far, it seems to be working: traffic to the FederalHousingTaxCredit.com Web site has steadily risen over the past three months!

Please direct questions on this item to
MondayMorningQuestions@nahb.com. [return to top]
Expanding industry recognition of NAHBGreen,
also known as NAHB's National Green Building Program, NAHB senior program manager for green building standards Kevin Morrow spoke to participants in more than 350 real estate brokerage offices via an educational Webinar held last week. The event, which was sponsored by the National Association of Realtors Green Resource Council, was an outstanding opportunity to enlighten Realtors about  the Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation, green home certification services offered by the NAHB Research Center, and partnerships between NAHBGreen-affiliated HBAs and local Realtor groups. Those partnerships, Kevin explained, can lead to "greening" certain communities' Multiple Listing Service entries through creation of a special category for green-certified homes. To date, more than 380 homes, developments and remodeling projects are NAHBGreen-certified, there are 114 state and local affiliates of the program, and more than 4,100 builders, remodelers and other industry leaders have earned a CGP designation. Please direct questions on this item to MondayMorningQuestions@nahb.com. [return to top]
NAHB mourns the loss of two industry greats
who passed away this August. Our deepest condolences go to the families of both of these highly esteemed friends and colleagues.

Steve Maltzman, founder of SMA Consulting and a respected business resource for small builders and remodelers across the country, passed away from a heart attack at his home in Redlands, Calif. on Aug. 14, at the age of 54. Steve's hard work was instrumental to the success of NAHB's Builder 20 program, and he was also an important guiding force for NAHB's Executive Committee, Business Management and Information Technology Committee, Education and Information Systems Committee and Remodelers Council. He was known throughout the industry for his sound advice, incredible work ethic and genial personality. His good counsel will endure in the many books he has authored that are sold on BuilderBooks.com. SMA Consulting partner Bob Whitten reports that, in honor of Steve, the accounting firm he founded will change its name back to Steve Maltzman & Associates. In addition, a scholarship fund is being established in Steve's name to help students majoring in accounting or construction management. Read more about Steve's successful life and career here.

William "Bill" Marvin, the former president and chairman of Marvin Windows and Doors who was responsible for his company's growth into a major manufacturer, passed away at his home in Warroad, Minn., on Aug. 31. He was 92 years old. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Bill went to work for his father at what was then known as the Marvin Lumber and Cedar Co. He pushed to expand the company into the window and door business, and it eventually became the largest of its kind in the world. He became president and chairman of the company in 1960, most recently serving as honorary chairman. Of course, many of our readers are well aware that Marvin Windows and Doors has been a major supporter of NAHB through the years, not only as a prominent IBS exhibitor but also as a sponsor of numerous conferences and programs, and for that we are very grateful to Bill. In addition to his company, Bill's greatest legacy may actually be the six children, 17 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren he leaves behind. Read more about Bill Marvin's life and times here.   [return to top]

Register to attend the 2010 International Builders' Show today
and take advantage of some of the best deals ever available to save you money at this all-important industry event. Not only are there some fantastic hotel deals to be had by registering through NAHB's housing block, but NAHB members who register by Dec. 11 can actually get complimentary four-day exhibit hall passes! Other great deals that are being offered include $100 all-inclusive registration for those attending the IBS for the first time as an NAHB member and one- and two-day education passes that let you take advantage of your choice of the 175+ seminars that are being offered. The bottom line couldn't be more clear: If you haven't signed up for IBS yet, now is the time! For more information and to register, visit the IBS Web site at www.BuildersShow.com. [return to top]
NAHB offices will be closed on Labor Day,
this Monday, Sept. 7. Of course, we'll be right back to business immediately following the federal holiday, on Tuesday, Sept. 8.  In the meantime, we wish everyone a very pleasant and safe holiday weekend, and hope you will continue to look for this report in your e-mail every Monday morning!

 

 


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