NAHB Chief Executive Officer
Our latest Homeownership Rally, held this week near Kansas City, Mo., built on the success of previous such events in drawing attention to the tremendous value that voting Americans place on housing and their ability to achieve homeownership.
Hundreds of housing professionals, elected officials and members of the general public from at least three states converged on the town of Independence, Mo., to voice their collective support for maintaining housing as a top national priority during our latest Homeownership Rally on Sept. 25. The NAHB leadership would especially like to thank our many members who drove in to show their support from across Missouri, Kansas and parts of Nebraska! Thanks also goes to the HBA of Greater Kansas City for its sponsorship of this rally, which was one of our best-attended events so far. NAHB Third Vice Chairman Tom Woods spoke at the rally, as did Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, Independence Mayor Don Reimal, County Commissioner and former Kansas City Chiefs football player Dave Lindstrom and Kevin Stucker, president of the HBA of Greater Kansas City. Together, these formidable speakers extolled the crucial benefits of homeownership to families and communities, the need to provide credit-worthy families and small businesses with access to affordable mortgages and other loans, and the importance of implementing policies that will help resolve the foreclosure crisis. As intended, the event generated some very positive media headlines and helped further our goal of elevating housing issues in the national discourse heading toward the November elections. But we aren't stopping yet -- in fact, four more Homeownership Rallies are scheduled in the coming weeks, and we strongly encourage everyone who can participate to please join us. The upcoming rallies will take place in Milwaukee on Oct. 2; Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 9; Richmond, Va., on Oct. 11; and Las Vegas on Oct. 18. Read more about them right here. Your contact for additional information is Blake Smith (800-368-5242 x8583).
Following up on last week's story about NAHB Senior Officers' outreach to key political groups, we wanted to provide some more details on NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg's appearance at the Republican Governors Association's (RGA's) fall meeting in Atlanta. As expected, Barry participated in two important discussion panels, providing builders' views on innovative infrastructure financing techniques and informing the governors about NAHB's efforts with regard to the National Green Building Standard (ICC 700). As it turned out, he was also able to take advantage of the opportunity to meet individually with some of the nation's most powerful governors about ongoing challenges in the housing industry and provide the builder's perspective on what can be done at the state level to help resolve them. Meeting with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who had introduced Barry on one of the panels with a glowing reference to builders' outstanding efforts to help wounded warriors (as showcased in videos at the national political conventions), Barry seized the opportunity to personally invite the governor to participate in NAHB's upcoming Homeownership Rally in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 11 -- an invitation that was readily accepted. Likewise, in meeting with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Barry hand-delivered an invitation to our Homeownership Rally in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 9. Other influential governors with whom Barry had a chance to speak one-on-one included the host of the RGA event, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, as well as Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. In short, this event proved to be an outstanding opportunity to elevate housing in the political debate as we head toward the November elections, and we believe we were very successful in doing just that. Contact: Stephen Gallagher (800-368-5242 x8319).
We are very glad to report on an important win on energy codes that NAHB and its locals were able to achieve for our members this week. Here’s what happened:
The Southern States Energy Board (SSEB), a group comprised of governors and state lawmakers, was considering a resolution to recommend adoption of the 2012 IECC (energy code) and any subsequent updates in the states its members represent. While this would not have been a binding resolution, it would help make the case to adopt the updated code in each state – and the nation’s home builders had plenty of reason to be concerned. For one thing, bringing the code up the 2012 version would be tremendously difficult and expensive in states that have not updated their codes in recent years; for another, while states often amend the codes to fit their specific needs, this resolution was recommending adoption of the new code “as published.” The most recent version of the code is also considerably more expensive and less flexible, favors certain products, and does not necessarily increase energy efficiency. Realizing these issues, NAHB swung into action by reaching out to every one of our HBA Executive Officers in the South with a letter expressing our main points against the resolution and a list of SSEB participants in their states. Thanks to the quick action of those locals, within a day, nearly every SSEB attendee had been contacted and made aware of our concerns, and soon after, many governors and legislators were expressing their agreement with us. At the SSEB’s meeting, our HBA representatives continued their strong outreach, and ultimately the resolution was tabled with no objections. Special thanks to Oklahoma EO Mike Means, Louisiana HBA lobbyist Michelle Shirley and Arkansas EO Julie Mills for their integral roles in achieving this important victory. This was an outstanding team effort among NAHB staff in Washington, our HBAs and grassroots members, and it shows how strong we are as an organization when we work together toward such an important goal. Contact: Billie Kaumaya (800-368-5242 x8570).
When the USDA recently redrew its maps according to 2010 Census data, more than 900 localities nationwide faced the possibility of becoming ineligible for crucially important rural housing loan programs targeted to helping low- and very-low income households obtain homeownership or suitable rental housing, due to their populations exceeding a 1974 definition of a "rural" community. As a result, NAHB has been reaching out to Congress and USDA offices around the country to urge the extension of many of these areas' rural classifications until the next Census and to update the definition of "rural" to better serve the needs of changing communities. This week, that hard work paid off when the USDA issued a notice to all rural development staff instructing them to continue to use the current “rural” definition until March 27, 2013, and to postpone implementation of new 2010 Census data until that time. Read the official notice here. While this is certainly good news for our members who do business in rural communities nationwide, NAHB will continue to focus on a long-term solution to the rural classification issue when Congress returns in November. Contact: Kedrin Simms-Brachman (800-368-5242 x8413).
NAHB-supported legislation that would permanently renew and improve the Existing Home Retrofit Tax Credit (25C) was recently introduced by Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.) in the House of Representatives. As reported in NAHB's Washington Update, this special incentive provides consumers with a tax credit of up to $500 for the purchase of qualifying energy-efficient products. Since the tax credit expired at the end of last year, NAHB and our coalition allies have been working with Congress to reinstate the tax credit and increase the $500 cap to $1,000. The Home Energy Savings Act of 2012 (H.R. 6398) would ultimately achieve this aim. Specifically, the legislation would extend the credit at its 2011 levels of 10% of installed costs, with a maximum credit for all qualified retrofits of $500. Beginning in 2014, consumers would receive a tax credit of up to $1,000 for all qualifying products as well as installation costs.
Since this tax credit provides home owners with fixed tax incentives for performing energy efficiency upgrades, remodelers often leverage 25C tax incentives when working with clients. Consumers know exactly how much money they will get back, which makes it possible for them to weigh the costs and benefits of purchasing a more energy efficient product. NAHB analysis indicates that the 25C tax credit supported nearly 280,000 jobs in 2009, nearly half of them in the remodeling sector. Going forward, NAHB will continue working hard to build support for extending the 25C tax credit and will update you on any new progress. For more information, contact J.P. Delmore at (800-368-5242 x8412).
The Environmental Protection Agency has delayed its plans to expand the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule to commercial buildings until 2015. As part of a legal settlement between EPA and environmental groups, the agency had agreed to introduce a rule applying to commercial buildings by this September. However, NAHB and other trade groups have repeatedly pointed out to EPA and members of Congress that the agency has yet to perform studies on the potential for lead dust exposure in adults during renovation activities in pre-1978 commercial buildings, as required by federal law. Beyond this, EPA also has yet to approve a test kit for the presence of lead-based paint that meets the accuracy standard it said it would require when the residential rule was implemented in 2010. These are particularly complicating factors when you realize that the new rule would apply to every commercial building in the country regardless of when it was built, because lead-based paint can still be used in those buildings. For additional information, please see NAHB's Washington Update or contact Michael Mittelholzer (800-368-5242 x8660).
One hundred employees of federal government agencies, states, municipalities, research centers, professional associations and environmental groups met at the White House on Sept. 20 to discuss ways to promote green infrastructure solutions for addressing stormwater issues. Importantly, NAHB was the only organization in the crowd that represented private enterprise ─ that is, the home building and construction industry – and used a pre-conference survey distributed to all attendees to advocate for flexibility and a range of choices when it comes to low-impact development and other green infrastructure solutions. Our representation at the conference allowed NAHB to express builders' views that, while rain gardens, narrower streets, pervious pavements and other green infrastructure techniques can help reduce discharge into municipal sewer systems, recharge groundwater and often save money for the builder, they aren’t necessarily the right way to address all stormwater problems. Instead, we noted, practices chosen will be dependent on soil, slope conditions or local weather factors, but the goal should be pollution reduction and stormwater infiltration in the most cost-efficient manner. Going forward, conference organizers are expected to produce a white paper as a result of the consensus documents that were developed during the meeting. That paper will be posted on the conference website. Additional information on green infrastructure is available at this site. Contact: Glynn Rountree (800-368-5242 x8662).
Testifying before the office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Sept. 24, NAHB called on the U.S. government to avoid using the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPP) as a means of renegotiating the U.S.-Canadian softwood lumber agreement prior to its 2015 expiration date. The U.S. is currently in talks with Canada regarding its participation in ongoing negotiations of a TPP trade pact with several other nations. However, NAHB strongly believes that the softwood lumber accord between the U.S. and Canada should not be part of the TPP trade pact negotiations and that it would be highly inappropriate for discussions on the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber agreement to include any nations other than the U.S. and Canada. Speaking on behalf of the nation's home builders, NAHB CEO Jerry Howard said that addressing softwood lumber issues in the TPP negotiations would undermine the TPP talks and set a dangerous precedent. "Reopening the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber agreement would jeopardize the successful negotiation of a TPP trade agreement, bogging down the talks with a century old dispute between the United States and Canada on softwood lumber that has yet to achieve a final resolution. Softwood lumber issues are too important to get lost in the context of a multinational trade negotiation and must be addressed by the U.S. and Canada in a bilateral forum," he said. Read more in our press release, or contact: Felicia Watson (800-368-5242 x8229).
Following a substantial gain in July, the pace of new-home sales fell by a statistically insignificant three-tenths of one percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 373,000 units in August, according to figures released by HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau on Sept. 26. Sales gained in every part of the country except the South, which is the largest housing market. While that region posted a 4.9% decline, the Northeast posted a 20% gain, the Midwest showed a 1.8% gain and the West registered a meager, 0.9% gain. Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale held at an historic low of just 141,000 units in August, which is a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace. In NAHB's press release analyzing the latest data, NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg noted, “New-home sales in August effectively tied the pace they set in the previous month, when they were the strongest we’ve seen in more than two years -- so this is really a continuation of the good news we’ve been getting on the housing front." NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe added that this latest report "indicates that new-home sales continue to run at a steady pace that’s well ahead of what we were seeing this time last year, and at this rate, the third quarter of 2012 is going to be well ahead of the second quarter." Dave also observed that the share of new homes sold in the higher price ranges ($400,000 and above) rose significantly in August, and said "This reflects the fact that people who are able to buy homes right now are those in higher-income ranges who have cash and equity on hand, while first-time buyers are having a tougher time getting qualified for a mortgage." Read NAHB's press release or the government's official report online. Contact: MondayMorningQuestions@nahb.org.
The New American Home for 2013 is nearing completion near Henderson, Nev., just a short shuttle bus ride away from the Las Vegas Convention Center, where the International Builders’ Show (IBS) will be taking place this January. NAHB and Builder magazine have sponsored this popular project for more than a quarter century to shine a spotlight on emerging technologies, design trends and building products available from the NAHB Leading Suppliers Council. If you're planning to attend the IBS -- and we hope you are -- you'll be able to pick up free tickets to tour the home in person when you're there. But if you're one of those curious types who just can't wait to see what's in store, a great preview is available at www.tnah.com. Also be sure to visit the Leading Suppliers Council page to learn more about this important group of NAHB members. Contact: Tucker Bernard (800-368-5242 x8519).
The following educational webinars are just around the corner, and we expect them both to be quite popular with our members. Register now for:
Marketing to the Female New Home Buyer
Oct.10, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET
Sales and Marketing series
Research indicates that women buyers influence 91% of home sales, and today's female buyer is very different than previous generations. With that in mind, this program will provide useful insights into what appeals to the female buyer and review examples of marketing campaigns that have worked to draw female buyers.
Presented by NAHB Professional Women in Building. Note, the fee to participate is $19.95 for Council members, $24.95 for NAHB members and $44.95 for non-members.
Fall Construction Forecast Webinar
Oct. 17, 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET
Once again, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe will be joined by Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, and NAHB Assistant Vice President for Forecasting and Analysis Robert Denk for a lively discussion of what’s ahead for housing. Don't miss this important event!
Presented by NAHB Economics. Note, the fee to participate is $29.95 for NAHB members and $49.95 for non-members.
For the latest housing/economic news and analysis:
Eye on Housing blog (continuously updated)
For in-depth legislative and regulatory news:
Washington Update will return when Congress is back in session
This is just a note that NAHB's offices in Washington, D.C., will be closed for the Columbus Day federal holiday on Monday, Oct. 8. This closure will not affect the regular publication of the Monday Morning Briefing, so be sure to check your email at the usual time for your Oct. 8 issue. We wish all of our members a very pleasant weekend, and thank you for your readership of this report!