Friday, May 31, 2013

Apartment and Condominium Market Remains Strong after Small Correction in the First Quarter of 2013

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 30 - The Multifamily Production Index (MPI), released today by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), inched down two points to an index level of 52. It is the fifth straight quarter with a reading over 50.

The MPI measures builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condominium market on a scale of 0 to 100. The index and all of its components are scaled so that any number over 50 indicates that more respondents report conditions are improving than report conditions are getting worse.

The MPI provides a composite measure of three key elements of the multifamily housing market: construction of low-rent units, market-rate rental units and "for-sale" units, or condominiums.

In the first quarter of 2013, the MPI component tracking builder and developer perceptions of market-rate rental properties dropped four points to 61, but has been above 60 for seven consecutive quarters--the longest sustained period of strength since the inception of the index in 2003. For-sale units dipped four points to 42, while low-rent units rose two points to 55.

"The apartment sector overall has largely recovered since the downturn, so we have now reached a level of development that is close to equilibrium and can continue at this pace," said W. Dean Henry, CEO of Legacy Partners Residential in Foster City, Calif., and chairman of NAHB's Multifamily Leadership Board. "With that said, there are still certain markets around the country that have room to grow."

The Multifamily Vacancy Index (MVI), which measures the multifamily housing industry's perception of vacancies, rose seven points to 38. With the MVI, lower numbers indicate fewer vacancies. After peaking at 70 in the second quarter of 2009, the MVI improved consistently through 2010 and has been at a fairly moderate level throughout 2011 and 2012.

Historically, the MPI and MVI have performed well as leading indicators of U.S. Census figures for multifamily starts and vacancy rates, providing information on likely movement in the Census figures one to three quarters in advance.

"The multifamily market has recovered substantially since the end of 2010, and is well on its way to reaching a sustainable level," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "However, there are still issues facing builders and developers that could have an impact on future production, such as a shortage of labor with basic construction skills and rising prices for some building materials."

For data tables on the MPI and MVI, visit

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New-Home Sales Rise 2.3 Percent in April

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 23 - Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 2.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000 units in April, according to newly released figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau. The gain builds on a strong upward revision to sales numbers reported for the previous month.

"Builders are reporting an active spring buying season as consumers become more confident about going forward with a new-home purchase along with steadily firming prices in local markets," said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "While the cost of constructing homes is rising due to tightened supplies of materials, lots and labor, to some extent, this may be creating greater urgency among potential buyers."

"Today's report is further evidence of the gradual, consistent improvement we have been seeing in housing market conditions over the past year," noted NAHB Senior Economist Robert Denk. "We're now about half-way back to what could be considered a full recovery, and we do expect to see continual, solid gains in both starts and sales of new homes going forward."

On a regional basis, new-home sales rose 3.0 percent in the South and 10.8 percent in the West, but fell 4.8 percent in the Midwest and 16.7 percent in the Northeast in April.

The inventory of new homes for sale edged up to a still-thin 156,000 units in April. This is a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

House Lead Paint Bill Would Help Remodelers, Consumers

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 22 - Responding to concerns from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and affiliated trade groups, bipartisan legislation to make much-needed improvements to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today.

The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2013 (H.R. 2093) is identical to legislation introduced in the last Congress. The bill would reinstate the opt-out provision to allow home owners without small children or pregnant women residing in the home to decide whether to require LRRP compliance, allow remodelers to correct paperwork errors without facing full penalties and provide an exemption for emergency renovations. It would also eliminate the requirement that recertification training be "hands on," so that remodelers would no longer have to travel to training facilities out of their region.

The bipartisan bill, companion legislation to S. 484, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), along with 21 original co-sponsors.

"H.R. 2093 will make common sense improvements to the EPA's lead paint rule for home owners and remodelers who must comply with the regulation's costly work practices and recordkeeping requirements," said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bill Shaw, GMR, GMB, CGP, a remodeler from Houston. "Most importantly, it will continue to protect pregnant women and small children against lead hazards. I commend the bill's co-sponsors for their commitment to improve this burdensome regulation."

The LRRP rule applies to homes built before 1978 and requires renovator training and certification, adherence to lead-safe work practices and record keeping.

By removing the opt-out provision in July 2010, EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the LRRP rule, adding an estimated $336 million per year in compliance costs to the remodeling community - without making young children any safer.

For more information about remodeling, visit

NAHB Applauds Sens. Menendez and Isakson for Legislation to Spur Construction Lending

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 22 - The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today applauded Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) for introducing bipartisan legislation to encourage residential construction lending, spur job growth and keep the housing and economic recovery on track.

"Sens. Menendez and Isakson know that a robust housing market is vital to generate jobs and maintain a vibrant economy," said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder and developer from Charlotte, N.C. "This bill will help builders access the credit they need to construct new homes in a growing number of markets that need and want them."

S. 1002, the Home Building Lending Improvement Act of 2013, would discourage lenders from calling construction loans where payments are current and establish regulatory guidelines to allow the banking industry to restore lending for viable home building projects.

The legislation to resolve the ongoing credit problems for home builders is similar to House bill H.R. 1255, the Home Construction Lending Regulatory Improvement Act of 2013, which was introduced earlier this year by Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.).

The nationwide inventory of completed newly built homes is extremely low due to the limited amount of new home construction that took place during the economic recession. During this time, college graduates were forced to move back in with their parents and others doubled or tripled up in residences rather than renting separate apartments.

It is estimated that roughly 2 million household formations were delayed as a result of recent economic conditions.

Housing stands ready to serve as an engine of economic job, Judson said, noting that whenever new homes are built, new jobs are created and a permanent source of ongoing revenue for local, state and federal government spring to life.

NAHB estimates that constructing 100 new single-family homes generates more than 300 full-time jobs and $8.9 million in federal, state and local tax revenues.

"With housing and the economy now on the mend, there is pent up demand for homes in many parts of the country," said Judson. "By helping to restore the flow of credit to home builders, S. 1002 will help meet this growing demand, put Americans back to work and strengthen our communities by increasing the property tax base that supports local schools, teachers, police, firefighters and public services."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Act 105 to Sunset

Act 105 (2011), which temporarily suspended the exemption for the subcontractors' deduction, will sunset on June 30, 2013! Beginning July 1, 2013, contractors will once again be able to deduct subcontractor expense when calculating GE Tax.

However, until then, it is unclear how the current law will be applied. The Department of Taxation is planning to release a Tax Announcement sometime in June regarding the sunset of Act 105. When it is finalized, it will be posted on their website at

BIA will also work with DoTax to get the information to circulate to our membership as soon as it's posted.

Housing Starts Slip with Multifamily Correction in April

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 16 - A correction from an unsustainably high level of production on the volatile multifamily side was largely responsible for a 16.5 percent dip in nationwide housing starts to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000 units in April, according to newly released figures from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau. However, permits for new construction headed solidly higher in the month, with a particularly strong gain in multifamily issuance.

"While builders today are considerably more optimistic than they have been at earlier stages of the housing recovery, numerous challenges are slowing their ability to get new projects underway," observed Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "In particular, limited access to construction credit, tough qualification standards for mortgage borrowers and rising costs for building materials, developable lots and labor are impacting the pace of construction activity."

"The big decline in April housing production was mostly on the multifamily side, which recorded a similarly dramatic increase in the previous month," noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Meanwhile, overall permits for new construction surpassed the million-unit mark and the number of yet-to-be-used permits rose in April, which is a good indicator that the dip in building activity was likely a temporary pause due partly to unseasonably poor weather conditions."

While single-family starts posted a modest, 2.1 percent decline to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units in April, multifamily starts posted a 38.9 percent decline to 243,000 units. Combined starts activity fell 12.8 percent in the Northeast, 27.9 percent in the South and 6.2 percent in the West, but increased 10.9 percent in the Midwest.

Total permit issuance, which can be an indicator of future building activity, gained 14.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.02 million units in April - the fastest pace since June of 2008. That increase reflected a 3.0 percent gain to 617,000 units on the single-family side and a 37.5 percent gain to 400,000 units on the multifamily side.

Three out of four regions posted double-digit gains in permit issuance in April, with the Midwest recording a 22.3 percent increase, the South registering a 16.0 percent gain and the West posting a 12.9 percent gain. The Northeast posted a 2.0 percent decline.

NAHB Calls on Congress to Establish a Fair and Workable E-Verify System

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 16 - As Congress debates comprehensive immigration reform, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today called on lawmakers to establish a fair and workable employer verification system for all businesses.

Participating in a congressional roundtable discussion on the impact of the mandatory E-Verify electronic employment verification system on America's small businesses, NAHB Chairman Rick Judson said that such a system must "be fair and efficient, and not impose significant burdens on employers." The roundtable was held by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

"Congress must also be mindful of the home building industry and its intricate system of general contractors and subcontractors for the system to be workable," said Judson, who is a home builder and developer from Charlotte, N.C.

As Congress moves to advance immigration bills pending in the House and Senate, NAHB said that a fair and workable E-Verify system for all U.S. employers should:
  • Maintain current law, holding U.S. employers accountable only for verifying the identity and work authorization status of their direct employees. Congress should not require employers to verify someone else's workers, such as a subcontractor's employees, as this is both unfair and infeasible.
  • Maintain present law that forbids employers from knowingly hiring undocumented workers, including subcontracted workers. NAHB fully supports maintaining this "knowing" standard to ensure employers understand their role and obligations under the law.
  • Ensure that any compulsory federal E-Verify program contains a robust safe harbor for employers so that those who use the system in good faith cannot be held liable for errors in the E-Verify system by any federal agency, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or by the employer's workers.
  • Include a strong pre-emption clause preventing state and local governments from creating their own versions of verification requirements for employers. If employers are going to be required to use the federal E-Verify program, they must be assured that they will not also have to meet other potentially conflicting compliance standards imposed by state and local governments.
  • Allow employers to begin the E-Verify process when a worker accepts a position, rather than be required to wait until after the start date. This will provide businesses more lead time to handle tentative non-confirmations for those who are ineligible to work.
  • Allow employers to access the E-Verify system via telephone and the Internet so it is more workable for small employers.
In addition to calling for a fair and efficient nationwide E-Verify program, Judson said that NAHB supports comprehensive immigration reform that would protect the nation's borders and create an efficient temporary guest worker program that allows employers to recruit legal immigrant workers when there is a shortage of domestic workers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Builder Confidence Improves in May

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 15 - Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved three points to a 44 reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May, released today. This gain, from a downwardly revised 41 in April, reflected improvement in all three index components - current sales conditions, sales expectations and traffic of prospective buyers.

"Builders are noting an increased sense of urgency among potential buyers as a result of thinning inventories of homes for sale, continuing affordable mortgage rates and strengthening local economies," noted National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "This is definitely an encouraging sign even amidst rising challenges with regard to the cost and availability of building materials, lots and labor."

"While industry supply chains will take time to re-establish themselves following recession-related cutbacks, builders' views of current sales conditions have improved and expectations for the future remain quite strong as consumers head back to the market in force," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components posted gains in May. The index gauging current sales conditions increased four points to 48, while the index gauging expectations for future sales edged up a single point to 53 - its highest level since February of 2007. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers gained three points to 33.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, no movement was recorded in the Northeast, Midwest or South, which held unchanged at 37, 45 and 42, respectively. Only the West recorded a decline, of six points to 49 in May.

Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found More information on housing statistics is also available at

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Housing Affordability Holding Strong in Early 2013

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 14 - Nationwide housing affordability held near historic highs in this year's first quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released today.

In all, 73.7 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and end of March were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $64,400. This is down slightly from the 74.9 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the final quarter of 2012.

"Thanks to very favorable mortgage rates and prices, housing affordability has remained quite high over the past four years," observed NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "The HOI has not slipped below 70 since the end of 2008. That said, from a builder's perspective, it should be noted that rising costs for building materials, lots and labor are making it somewhat more expensive to construct new homes in today's market."

"HOI results for the beginning of 2013 are little changed from what they were at the end of 2012, with Ogden-Clearfield Utah holding onto the title of the nation's most affordable major housing market and San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. retaining its position as the least affordable major market," noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "The bottom line is that, for consumers who can qualify for a mortgage at today's attractive rates, the majority of homes being sold remain within their grasp in markets nationwide."

This was the third consecutive quarter in which Ogden-Clearfield hit the top of the affordability chart for major markets. There, 93.4 percent of all new and existing homes sold in this year's first quarter were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $70,800 - essentially unchanged from the 93.7 percent of homes affordable to median-income earners at year-end 2012.

Other major U.S. housing markets at the top of the affordability chart in the first quarter included Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; and the two New York metros of Syracuse and Albany-Schenectady-Troy tied for the fifth position.

Among smaller housing markets, Mansfield, Ohio, claimed the "most affordable" title this time around, with 97.5 percent of homes sold in the first quarter being affordable to those earning the median income of $54,600. Other small housing markets at the top of the index included Cumberland, Md.-W.Va., followed by Fairbanks, Alaska; Springfield, Ohio; and Dover, Del., respectively.

This was the second consecutive quarter in which the San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. metro area hit the bottom of the affordability chart for major markets. There, just 28.9 percent of homes sold in the first quarter were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $102,000.

Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart included New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J. and the three California metros of Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, in that order.

The least affordable small housing market in the first quarter was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif., where 37.1 percent of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to those earning the area's median family income of $73,800. Other small metros at the bottom of the affordability chart included Salinas, Calif.; San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.; and Ocean City, N.J.; followed by the metros of Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta and Napa, Calif., which tied for fifth place.

Please visit for tables, historic data and details.

Editor's Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) is a measure of the percentage of homes sold in a given area that are affordable to families earning the area's median income during a specific quarter. Prices of new and existing homes sold are collected from actual court records by Core Logic, a data and analytics company. Mortgage financing conditions incorporate interest rates on fixed- and adjustable-rate loans reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo HOI is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Construction Training Scholarships Available for Ewa Beach Residents

Press Release

The Hawaii Building Industry Foundation (HBIF) has received a $15,000 grant from the Haseko Training Fund which is administered by the Hawai’i Community Foundation to support its workforce development efforts. This grant will offer adults 18 and older in the Ewa Beach Community an opportunity to participate in a pre-apprenticeship construction training project named ComPACT: “Building Skills to Build Lives”.

Applications are available on-line (click here) or may be picked up at the Construction Training Center of the Pacific and the Hale Pono Ewa Beach Boy’s and Girls’ Club.

The Deadline to submit an Application is Friday, June 14, 2013. 

For more information, contact Barbara Nishikawa, Construction Training Center of the Pacific, at (808) 629-7505 or email at .

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 Renaissance Building & Remodeling Awards - Carl Reppun Award Winner

By: Karen T. Nakamura, CEO
Building Industry Association of Hawaii

The BIA Renaissance Building and Remodeling Awards, established in 1986, celebrates excellence in design and construction of new and remodeled projects in Hawaii. This showcase recognizes competing categories including Details, Kitchen & Bath, Landscape & Outdoor Living, New & Remodeled Commercial Building, New & Remodeled Residential Building, Public Works, Hawaii BuiltGreen™, Historical and Innovative Design & Construction. The 28th Annual Awards Ceremony was held on May 8th and 38 entrants from Maui, Molokai and Oahu represented an exciting year of statewide participation.

The entries were judged on creativity, use of materials, environmental & sustainability, functionality, design principles, value, interior space, overall quality and workmanship.

The highlight of the awards ceremony was the recognition of the top four Overall Grand Awards and the Carl Reppun Award. Today’s column will feature the winner of the Carl Reppun Award in the Residential Remodel Division. The winner is Hawaii Architecture, LLP and Complete Construction Services, Corp. for “Makiki Heights Residence”.

The goal was to maintain many of the architectural highlights of this original 1937 Claude Albon Stiehl designed home while transforming a 75 year old 2,000 square foot structure into a completely retrofitted 3,000 square foot home to last another century. New elements to match the original style included banded horizontal exterior wall details, whitewash exterior, expansive use of glazing which not only created focal highlights of downtown Honolulu and Diamond Head, but also specifically targeted passive ventilation continuity with awning windows strategically placed under the extra deep roof overhangs. An extensive deconstructive demolition process, photo voltaic, solar hot water systems and high efficiency double glazed window units incorporated sustainability. The central space of the house now functions as the heart of the home with 16’ foot wide pocketing glass doors that open to a deck overlooking downtown Honolulu on one side and the private residential courtyard on the other, a transformation that honors timeless design.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Builder Confidence in the 55+ Housing Market Shows Strong Growth in First Quarter

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 9 - In the first quarter of 2013, the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) 55+ single-family Housing Market Index (HMI) increased 19 points on a year over year basis to 46, which is the highest first-quarter number recorded since the inception of the index in 2008 and sixth consecutive quarter of year over year improvements.

"Builders and developers for the 55+ housing sector continue to report increased optimism in the market," said Robert Karen, chairman of NAHB's 50+ Housing Council and managing member of the Symphony Development Group. "We are seeing an increase in consumer demand for homes and communities that are designed to address the specific needs of the mature homebuyer."

There are separate 55+ HMIs for two segments of the 55+ housing market: single-family homes and multifamily condominiums. Each 55+ HMI measures builder sentiment based on a survey that asks if current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market are good, fair or poor (high, average or low for traffic). An index number below 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as poor than good.

All of the components of the 55+ single-family HMI showed significant growth from a year ago: present sales climbed 19 points to 46, expected sales for the next six months increased 21 points to 53 and traffic of prospective buyers rose 15 points to 41.

The 55+ multifamily condo HMI posted a substantial gain of 23 points to 38, which is the highest first-quarter reading since the inception of the index. All 55+ multifamily condo HMI components increased compared to a year ago as present sales rose 23 points to 37, expected sales for the next six months climbed 23 points to 43 and traffic of prospective buyers rose 23 points to 38.

The 55+ multifamily rental indices also showed strong gains in the first quarter as present production increased 12 points to 43, expected future production rose 13 points to 48, current demand for existing units climbed 14 points to 56 and future demand increased 13 points to 58.

"The strong year over year increase in confidence reported by builders for the 55+ market is consistent with year over year increases in other segments of the home building industry," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "While demand for new 55+ housing has improved due to a reduced inventory of homes on the market and low interest rates, builders' ability to respond to the demand is being limited by a shortage of labor with basic construction skills and rising prices for some building materials."

2013 Reniassance Awards Gala Winners & Photos

HONOLULU- The 28th Annual BIA Renaissance Building & Remodeling Awards Gala for 2013 was held May 8 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. 38 prizes were awarded by the Building Industry Association of Hawaii and The BIA-Hawaii Remodelers in 11 divisions. The 11 divisions included submissions in construction and design of New & Remodeled Residential, New & Remodeled Commercial, Kitchen & Bath, Landscape & Outdoor Living, Hawaii BuiltGreen™, Historical, Innovative Construction and Public Works. The 38 submitted statewide 2013 entrants from Maui, Molokai and Oahu symbolized the diversity of excellence in quality construction and design of new and remodeled projects. Award of Merit, Grand Awards and Four Overall Grand Awards and the Carl Reppun Award were the highlight of the awards ceremony.

The five top Overall Grand Award and Carl Reppun Award winners, achieving the highest awards of the night, included four on Oahu: Architects Hawaii, Ltd. “WCC Library Learning Commons” in the Hawaii BuiltGreen™ New Commercial Division; Long & Associates Architects and Interiors “Hale Kapena” in the New Residential Division; Armstrong Builders, LLC and Peter Vincent Architects “Subtle Elegance” in the Residential Remodeling Division and Hawaii Architecture, LLP and Complete Construction Services, Corp. “Makiki Heights Residence” receiving the Carl Reppun Award. The Maui entrant achieving top honors was Armstrong Pacific, LLC “Easter Seals at Kahului” for the Overall Grand Commercial Remodeling Division.

There were 24 Grand Award winners and 13 Merit Award winners also honored at the 28th Annual BIA Renaissance Building & Remodeling Awards Gala on May 8.

View winners | View photos from the Awards Gala

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Taking it to the Top: How NAHB works to save members money and keep businesses thriving

Serving as the home builder’s voice in Washington is one of the most important actions that NAHB takes to save members money and to keep their businesses thriving.

NAHB lobbyists constantly interact with congressional lawmakers and their staffs on a host of issues including taxes, housing finance, immigration, stormwater, wetlands, OSHA and much more to ensure that the housing industry’s concerns are taken into account whenever Congress and regulators consider actions that will affect housing.

An uninformed decision on just one of these issues could add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the cost of building a new home or doing a remodeling job. Collectively, the amounts could be much larger, and in more extreme circumstances, a builder could even be forced to look for another line of business.

Very few organizations are afforded the privilege of testifying before Congress, and it is even more of a rarity for a group to appear before lawmakers on multiple occasions.

As an acknowledged authority on housing among the nation’s lawmakers, NAHB has a great deal of clout on Capitol Hill. Already this year, NAHB has appeared before several congressional committees to fight for the housing industry’s interests on critical issues including current housing tax incentives, affordable financing for home buyers, the cost of building materials, and the shortage of residential construction workers.

Last month alone, NAHB testified on behalf of its members on:

  • FHA reform. NAHB First Vice Chairman Kevin Kelly testified before Congress April 10 in support of congressional efforts to reform the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), but urged lawmakers to proceed cautiously to avoid any disruptions to the nation’s housing finance system.
    • “While there is no doubt that the housing finance system needs to be reformed, the contributions that FHA made during the economic downturn underscore the need for a government backstop for both the primary and secondary mortgage markets,” he told lawmakers. View Kelly’s testimony or see NAHB’s press release.
  • Forest bill to boost production of timber on federal lands. Legislation requiring the government to implement active forest management plans would benefit rural communities and boost harvesting of wood on federal lands, NAHB member Justin Wood told Congress on April 11.
    • Testifying on behalf of the nation's home builders before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, Wood, vice president of construction for Fish Construction NW Inc. in Portland, Ore., registered NAHB's support for the "Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act" (H.R. 1526) introduced by House Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.).
    • This legislation would encourage increased production on federal timber lands, Wood said, adding that “it will go a long way toward helping rebuild the supply chain and reviving local mills and timber companies, while ensuring the continued recovery of the housing industry."
  • Immigration legislation. NAHB Chairman Rick Judson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 22 about Senate immigration bill S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.
    • Specifically, he focused on the legislation’s guest worker provisions, and told Congress that they must be improved to address the significant role that foreign workers play in the housing industry and to help alleviate current labor challenges that are hampering the housing and economic recovery. For more details, see Judson’s testimony and NAHB’s press release
  • Tax reform. Testifying on behalf of NAHB before the House Ways and Means Committee on April 25, NAHB economist Robert Dietz vigorously defended the importance of vital housing tax incentives such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the mortgage interest deduction and real estate tax deductions as lawmakers consider ways to reform the U.S. tax code.
    • Dietz reminded legislators of the important impacts that housing has on the economy and job growth, noted the critical role that the Low Income Housing Tax Credit plays in creating affordable rental housing, and set the record straight on a number of false assumptions regarding the mortgage interest deduction. For these reasons and more, he said, “we urge Congress to be cautious and thoughtful when it comes to housing and tax reform.” For more information, view Dietz’s testimony or see NAHB’s press release.

Amp Up Our Impact: Attend the NAHB Legislative Conference

Just as NAHB speaks out on behalf its members, the association offers members a unique opportunity to take their concerns to the top and meet with their elected officials on Capitol Hill.

NAHB’s annual Legislative Conference, which will be held on Wednesday, June 5, will give members an unparalleled opportunity to lobby lawmakers to protect their business and industry, establish lasting relationships with their federal officials, and do their part to ensure that NAHB’s issues are heard by key Washington policymakers.

Especially in these challenging times, participation by grassroots members can make a huge difference as various interest groups compete to be heard in Washington.

A strong builder turnout on June 5 will send a powerful message to members of Congress that housing must remain a top national priority.

For more information and to register, visit; or email Nick Gentile at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8542.

Court of Appeals Strikes Down NLRB “Poster Rule”

In a victory for NAHB, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on May 7 struck down a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule that would have required millions of employers across the nation to place 11-inch by 17-inch posters in a prominent area in their workplace informing employees of their right to form a union, and that a failure to so post would be considered an unfair labor practice. The Court of Appeals Ruled that the NLRB lacked authority to promulgate such a rule because section 8(c) of the National Labor Relations Act provides that the dissemination (or non-dissemination) of non-threatening speech shall not be considered an unfair labor practice.

NAHB is a member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which was a party to the case. NAHB and other business organizations maintained that the poster rule violated free speech rights, and amounted to little more than an imposed advertisement for union membership.

For more information, email David Crump at NAHB or call him at 800-368-5242 x8491, or Suzanne at NAHB at x 8407.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Improving Markets List Includes 258 Metros in May

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 6 - The number of U.S. housing markets showing sustained improvement in three key measures fell slightly to 258 in May from 273 in April, according to the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), released today. This total includes entrants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The IMI identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. Four new markets were added to the list and 19 were dropped from it this month. Newcomers included the geographically diverse metros of Dothan, Ala.; Elizabethtown, Ky.; Salisbury, Md.; and Salem, Ore.

"The fact that over 70 percent of all U.S. metros are holding onto their spots on the improving list is definitely good news, and representative of the generally brightening outlook for housing markets nationwide," said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. "That said, our industry's progress on the road to recovery is being slowed by rising challenges related to the availability of credit, building materials, labor and lots for development."

"While seasonal trends in home prices resulted in an overall decline in the IMI this month, the index remains at a very strong level and continues to represent markets in every state," noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "Some metropolitan areas that had previously charted marginal home-price gains dropped off the list this time as a result of typically softer prices seen in the winter months, which is similar to what the index showed in this same period last year."

"Today's report shows that the majority of U.S. metros are experiencing strengthening house prices, employment and permitting activity, which is a much more positive picture than the one we were seeing a year ago," observed Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company. "That's the big picture on which consumers need to focus."

The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate a list of improving markets. A metro area must see improvement in all three measures for at least six consecutive months following those measures' respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list.

A complete list of all 258 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in May, is available at

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How to Speak Remodeling

By: Karen T. Nakamura, CEO
Building Industry Association of Hawaii

The home building industry celebrates National Remodeling Month in May, but remodeling is popular year-round, and the industry is growing every year. Whether it’s a small cosmetic remodel such as replacing bathroom fixtures, or a major down-to-the-wall-studs overhaul of your kitchen or adding new space to your home, understanding the terminology your professional remodeler is using can be very helpful to ensure you get the finished project you want.

As you interview potential contractors, this glossary of common terms used by builders and remodelers will help you understand the language of your remodeling project — and help you avoid miscommunication with your contractor.

Allowance: A specific dollar amount allocated by a contractor for specified items in a contract for which the brand, model number, color, size or other details are not yet known.

A proposal to work for a certain amount of money, based on plans and specifications for the project.

Building Permit: A document issued by the county building department, granting permission to undertake a construction project.

Call-back: An informal term for a return visit by the contractor to repair or replace items the home owner has found to be unsatisfactory or that require service under the warranty.

Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR): A professional designation program offered through the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council™. To attain the CGR designation, a remodeler must take a specified number of continuing education courses and comply with a strict code of ethics.

Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS): CAPS professionals have learned strategies and techniques to meet the home modification needs of home owners who want to continue living in their homes safely, independently and comfortably regardless of age or ability level. CAPS graduates pledge to uphold a code of ethics and are required to maintain their designation by attending education programs and participating in community service.

Change Order: This is written authorization to the contractor to make a change or addition to the work described in the original contract. The change order should reflect any changes in cost.

Cost-plus Contract: A contract between a contractor and home owner that is based on the accrued cost of labor and materials plus a percentage for profit and overhead — also known as a time-and-materials contract.

Draw: A designated payment that is "drawn" from the total project budget to pay for services completed to date. A draw schedule is typically established in the contract.

Lien Release: A document that voids the legal right of a contractor, subcontractor or supplier to place a lien against your property. A lien release assures you that the remodeler has paid subcontractors and suppliers in full for labor and materials.

Mechanic’s Lien: A lien obtained by an unpaid subcontractor or supplier through the courts. When enforced, real property — such as your home — can be sold to pay the subcontractor or supplier. If a subcontractor or supplier signed a lien release, then this lien cannot be enforced.

Plans and Specifications: These are drawings for the project, and a detailed list or description of the known products, materials, quantities and finishes to be used.

Punch List: A list of work items to be completed or corrected by the contractor, typically near or at the end of a project.

Subcontractor: A person or company hired directly by the general contractor to perform specialized licensed work at the job site.

To find a professional remodeler in your area, contact

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Statement from NAHB Chairman on the White House Nomination of Rep. Mel Watt to Head FHFA

NAHB Press Release

WASHINGTON, May 1 - The following is a statement from NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder and developer from Charlotte, N.C., on the nomination of Representative Mel Watt (D-N.C., 12th District) to be the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA):

"We applaud the nomination of Representative Watt to this important position. After four years in conservatorship, the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stand at a crossroad.

"Rep. Watt brings years of experience to this position at a pivotal moment as our nation's housing market recovers. NAHB looks forward to working closely with Rep. Watt to help address the many complex challenges facing the U.S. housing finance system upon his confirmation by the U.S. Senate."