As an industry, we are beginning the year on an optimistic note. For the past several months, housing starts, home sales, permits, builder confidence and home prices have all been trending upward in most areas as housing emerges from its worst downturn since the Great Depression. NAHB anticipates we will see a gradual, but steady growth in new home production and sales in 2013, which should bode well for all businesses involved in the residential housing sector.
However, several challenges remain which could affect the pace of the housing recovery and even threaten to halt the nascent upturn in its tracks. As your 2013 chairman of NAHB, I have directed the association to focus on key legislative and regulatory issues that will serve our members’ best interests and keep the recovery moving forward while providing support to the efforts of local and state HBAs.
Specifically, as policymakers look to tackle the issue of tax reform, NAHB will be leading the charge to protect critical housing tax incentives, including the mortgage interest deduction and Low Income Housing Tax Credit. NAHB has already laid the foundation for this endeavor by holding a series of Homeownership Rallies in key swing states leading up to the 2012 elections and engaging in aggressive media outreach to highlight the importance of homeownership to American families and the economy.
Congress will also be deliberating the fate of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and changes to the U.S. housing finance system. NAHB has acted preemptively by issuing a comprehensive framework for housing finance reform that we have shared with lawmakers, regulators and Obama Administration officials. This has given us a seat at the table as we work to make sure that any restructuring provides a federal backstop to ensure that conventional 30-year home loans and adjustable rate mortgages are readily available at reasonable interest rates and terms.
Another priority will be to fix a flawed appraisal process that has needlessly killed home sales, hurt home values and impeded the housing recovery. After organizing and leading a broad industry coalition over the past year, NAHB has unveiled recommendations for establishing an appraisal system that produces accurate values through all phases of the housing cycle, as noted in our newly published Comprehensive Blueprint for Residential Appraisal Reform. NAHB will use this blueprint in our advocacy efforts with Congress, regulators and the appraisal community as we lead the effort to reform the system so that appraisals truly reflect the value of a new home.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is expected to propose more burdensome rules and regulations – particularly in the area of energy — that will cost builders and remodelers time, money and jobs. NAHB will remain vigilant and fight tirelessly against any new proposals that do little to help home owners and needlessly raise the cost of constructing a new home.
So even as the recovery moves forward, our industry is under attack on many fronts. To ensure that NAHB has the necessary tools at its disposal to fight the looming threats facing our industry, the NAHB Board of Directors approved a $16 dues increase to take effect in January, 2014, and another $16 dues increase effective in January, 2015. A third increase of $16 would take effect in January, 2017 only if NAHB failed to meet specific membership and IBS exhibit sales benchmarks before or during 2016.
The Value of Membership
In an industry like home building, where competition can be fierce and profit margins can be slim, getting the best possible value for your money is essential. That’s why I’m so proud that NAHB consistently delivers real value for members at every level of the association.
Members can readily see first-hand the value of the important products and services our local and state associations provide. The impact of the great work NAHB does at the national level may not always be so obvious because it’s less direct and often the value to members is that we have prevented onerous measures from being imposed. But believe me, it is no less important.
Through the Washington Update, the Monday Morning Briefing and the EOs, NAHB makes every effort to communicate to all our members what the association is doing to help our industry and your businesses in bottom line terms.
In fact, NAHB’s advocacy efforts on behalf of members in the legislative, regulatory and legal arenas saved the typical home builder about $7,250 per housing start (both single- and multifamily) in 2012. Put a different way, without the efforts of our engaged leadership and staff, our grassroots members would be paying substantially more to construct or remodel every home on which they work, every day of the week.
Following are just some of the actions resulting in savings:
1. NAHB’s challenge to EPA stormwater regulations saved builders $1,970 on each new home built last year.
2. Advocacy on form 1099 reporting requirements saved each member $230.
3. NAHB saved remodelers $260 per room on lead testing requirements.
4. Fire sprinkler victories will save $6,316 per home in areas where the victories have been achieved.
5. An important NAHB win with the Supreme Court could save up to $200,000 for those seeking wetlands permits.
6. A higher FHA loan limit saved 6,300 new home sales in 2012.
7. Elimination of a proposed visitability requirement from the IRC will save $1,350 per home.
You can read a detailed explanation of the cost savings here.
NAHB leverages the association’s power to shine a light on key issues, get pro-housing bills introduced and passed, challenge regulations that do more harm than good, and level the playing field against powerful interests that could put struggling builders, remodelers and their suppliers out of business. These are just a few of the more than 100 advocacy issues and initiatives that NAHB was engaged in over the last year.
This year we will be making ongoing improvements to our website and communications platforms to better communicate with members at all levels of the federation. As we continue our pro-active efforts, we will provide updates about the progress we make on our priority issues and the actions we are taking to enhance the value of your NAHB membership.
Finally, I want to stress that in the year ahead my fellow Senior Officers and the entire staff at NAHB will continue to work closely with the local and state HBAs on behalf of every member of the association to do all in our power to keep housing a national priority and help your businesses to thrive.
Feel free to contact me with any suggestions, concerns or comments you may have that will better allow NAHB to help its members in the year ahead