Lots of Fun at this Years Chili and Politics Event last Thursday!
The rain and bad weather held out for The Chili and Politics event held this past Thursday evening. It was a great event with with great food and fun. While the judges of the Cook- Off had a hard decision to make the winners of the Best Chili and Dessert contest are as follows:
1st Place Chili- "OOO Wee"- GBS Building Supply
2nd Place Chili- "Wild Chicken Chili"- Howard Custom Builders
3rd Place Chili- "Smokin Hot"- The Cook's Station
Best Dessert was awarded to The Cook's Station for their Sweet Potato Bread Pudding.

There were also some great prizes including a  KBRS Tileable Shower worth over $700, eligible for Builder or Remodeler, won by Trey Cole of Trey Cole Design Group. A Cook's Station gift basket went to Alan Boone of Advanced Renovations, and Bill Fitz of Gateway Supply won the raffle for some cold hard cash. 
The HBA of Greenville would like to thank our event sponsors for helping to make this event a success!

Enjoying some Oysters

GBS Team with their 1st Place Chili.

Oyster Roast courtesy of Clark's 

Read More

Todd Usher featured by NAHB
We told you last week that Todd Usher is mentoring construction students at Clemson University.  He serves as the HBA's professional adviser to the NAHB Student Chapter at Clemson and also serves as a member of the Industry Advisory Board for Clemson's Construction Science and Management program.

Read last week's article by clicking here.

This week NAHB featured Todd's efforts on NAHBNow.com, the national blog.  Among Todd's efforts is to mentor the competition team at Clemson that will be competing in the student competition at the International Builders Show.   

“The Residential Construction Management Competition provides the most real-world experience these students are likely to have prior to graduation,” said Usher, who is using his green building experience ( he was named NAHB Green Advocate of the Year in 2011) to prep the Clemson team on sustainable construction methods and materials. “It’s a hands-on opportunity to put theory into practice,” he said.

Having industry professionals mentor the Clemson team takes students well beyond their reference books, said Jason Lucas, assistant professor in Clemson’s department of Construction Science and Management.

“Having Todd come in and discuss his experiences provides students with a current market view and practical application of the theories we discuss in class,” Lucas says. “By going over the National Green Building Standard and ICC 700 worksheet, he took something that was abstract to them and put it into practical terms. This gives the students a real head start getting into the RCMC project.”

Read More

Upstate: a luxury home market?
According to the morereport, Greenville/Spartanburg is a strong market for luxury homes.  Check out these statistics of home closings by price range:
  • July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014: 34 homes closed for more than $1 million
  • July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014: 82 homes closed for $750,000 to $999,999
  • July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013: 24 homes closed for more than $1 million
  • July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013: 49 homes closed for $750,000 to $999,999
These numbers are supported by The Market Edge, which found that 18 percent of all homes permitted in the Upstate were over 4,000 square feet in size or more than $400,000 in permitted value.  By comparison, Asheville is similar at about 19 percent, Charlotte is 16 percent, Raleigh is 22 percent, and Columbia is 13 percent.

Sources: morereport.com and themarketedge.com
Read More

SEER Standard for Residential HVAC Standards Will Change in 2015
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) minimum efficiency standards for residential HVAC systems will change in January.  The change specifically affects Southern states, including South Carolina.  For Southern states, the new standard applies to all systems while in Northern states a split system will still be allowed at 13 SEER.

Effective January 1, 2015, manufacturers will only manufacture 14 SEER or higher for use in Southern states.  Existing inventory of 13 SEER systems may still be installed as long as they are available on the market.

According to an analysis of 13 SEER and 14 SEER systems currently available on the market, the new standard will add about $200 to $300, depending on the size of the system, to the cost of a new HVAC system, plus installation costs.  However, cost for the higher-efficiency systems should ease over time.

The current minimum standard, 13 SEER, was set in 2006 when.  Prior to that the minimum standard was 10 SEER.

To read more about the minimum efficiency standards at energy.gov, click here.
Read More

Members Save $ on your IBS registration in September

September is the only chance for members to take advantage of the best pricing on registration to the building industry’s biggest event! And this year, an IBS expo pass also gives access to the four other exhibit floors of Design & Construction Week? ? KBIS, IWCE, Las Vegas Market and TISE.

Top 4 reasons to register in September:
  1. FREE IBS expo pass ? See more than 500,000 net square feet of exhibits and 1,300 manufacturers and suppliers of the latest and most in-demand products and services.
  2. Save $100 off IBS full registration ? IBS education is in demand! The number of attendees getting full registrations (with access to all education sessions) has grown 40% over the past two years and speaker ratings are at an all-time high! With more than 100+ education sessions in 10 tracks attendees are sure to gain the knowledge to improve their business.
  3. HBA housing block ? Take advantage of great hotel properties at discounted rates and complimentary shuttle service to/from the Las Vegas Convention Center.
  4. Spouse registration ? Registration for spouses is FREE during the month of September!
Register at BuildersShow.com/september
Read More

Builder Tailgate Event! Friday, September 19th 5-9pm at the Southern Home and Garden Show!

This event is open to all HBA of Greenville Members. Please call the HBA office at 864-254-0133 for more information.

Read More

GBS' Nick Campbell is a Best and Brightest 35 and Under
Nick Campbell
Greenville Business Magazine has named Nick Campbell, Director of Sales at GBS Building Supply, one of its 36 Best and Brightest 35 and Under.  To read Nick's profile, click here and scroll to page 54.
Read More

Dr. David Crowe Presents the Current State of the Housing Market
Dr. David Crowe
In a special edition of Housing Now, Dr. David Crowe discusses the current state of the housing market, and his current forecast for 2015.

Click here to watch Dr. Crowe's update.

Dr. Crowe is projecting the following for 2015:
  • Remodeling: 3.2 percent increase over 2014, which will fall 2 percent over 2013.
  • Multifamily: Up 3 percent in 2015 following a 14 percent jump in 2014.
  • Single Family: Up 35 percent in 2015 following a 5 percent increase in 2014.
Crowe Comments that Single Family is still just a little more than half recovered in terms of a level he considers normal. However, he projects South Carolina to be in the top 20 percent of states at the end of 2015, and above historically normal levels.
Read More

Todd Usher will mentor Clemson's NAHB Competition Team
Todd Usher
Todd Usher is helping a team of seven Clemson University students prepare for the National Association of Home Builders’ Student Chapters Residential Construction Management Competition (RCMC).

The students ? all juniors and seniors in Clemson’s Construction Science and Management program ? are competing with peers from across the country as they apply skills learned in the classroom to a real-world construction project. Each team receives a problem statement outlining an actual project for which they must produce working drawings, schedules, budgets, project management, sustainability standards, sales and marketing, and pricing/financial analysis; then, they must defend their overall proposal to a group of construction company executives.

“The Residential Construction Management Competition provides the most real-world experience these students are likely to have prior to graduation,” says Usher, president of Addison Homes, who prepped the Clemson team on sustainable construction methods and materials. “It’s a hands-on opportunity to put theory into practice.”

Having industry professionals mentor the Clemson team takes students well beyond their reference books, says Jason Lucas, assistant professor in Clemson’s department of Construction Science and Management.

“Having Todd come in and discuss his experiences provides students with a current market view and practical application of the theories we discuss in class,” Lucas says. “By going over the National Green Building Standard and ICC 700 worksheet, he took something that was abstract to them and put it into practical terms. This gives the students a real headstart getting into the RCMC project.”

The Clemson RCMC team received their problem statement Monday, Sept. 8, and will defend their proposal in front of judges ? and an audience ? during the International Builders’ Show in January in Las Vegas.
Read More

BBB To Offer Social Media Seminars on September 9th
Whether you are just starting to figure out social media, or you are looking to improve your current strategy, we have just what you need! Join us for a day of social media seminars, or pick and choose just the sessions you would like to attend. From social media basics and strategy to understanding content and blogging, Carol Morgan and Mitch Levinson, managing partners at mRELEVANCE, LLC, will provide you with the expertise and tools you need to get your business noticed in today’s social media world.

On September 9th there will be three seminar opportunities:

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Social Media Lab
Social Media Lab is a hands-on workshop designed to train professionals on how to effectively use social media to enhance their online reputation, reach existing customers and build relationships with target audiences. This lab covers the “how to basics” of Facebook, Twitter and blogging. Get started with the right sites and strategy with tips and insight.

12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Luncheon
He Said, She Said.
Get the answers to the most commonly asked questions related to online marketing from two different perspectives in He Said, She Said. Mitch answers questions from the perspective of how to improve your search engine optimization, while Carol focuses on how to create great content that attracts and engages readers on your blog and social media sites.

2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
10 Tips to Rev Up Your Social Media Program
Learn how these valuable, actionable tips will help accelerate your social media program by taking it to the next level. Whether you just launched a social media program or already have one and are looking for ways to improve it, this fun, interactive session will give you the horsepower you need to kick your program into high gear.

HBA members can pick the sessions they would like to attend for $30 each ($40 for the luncheon seminar), or attend all three for $100.

To register, visit Upstatesc.BBB.org or call 864-242-6905.

About the Presenters
Mitch Levinson and Carol Morgan
Carol Morgan and Mitch Levinson are partners in mRelevance, LLC, a real estate marketing firm with offices in Chicago and Atlanta.

Carol Morgan focuses on marketing strategy and integrating public relations, social media, content and creative to tell engaging stories for clients that garner measurable traffic. Carol is the author of Social Media 3.0, published by BuildersBooks.com, and creator of the nationally-ranked and award-winning AtlantaRealEstateForum.com, Atlanta’s popular real estate blog. She is the 2014 Chair of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Professional Women in Building Council and a member of NAHB’s Public Affairs committee.

Mitch Levinson is the author of “Internet Marketing: The Key to Increased New Home Sales.” An Internet marketing expert with proficiency in search engine optimization, website development, email marketing, social media and CRM consulting services, Mitch works to make all things digital more
effective for clients. He is chair of the National Association of Home Builders Institute of Residential Marketing and a Director of the National Sales and Marketing Council.
Read More

OSHA Training Opportunity
The Home Builders Association of Charleston will host a two-day OSHA training course on September 9-10 at the Charleston Area Convention Center.

Attending members will learn to:
  • Write and maintain an effective safety program
  • Understand the effect of job site safety on insurance premiums
  • Anticipate what to expect from an OSHA inspection, including your rights
  • Comply with OSHA standards for fall protection, electrical, PPE, and more
  • Save money by avoiding fines
  • Earn a course completion card from Federal OSHA
Participants will become Fall Protection Certified and will have the opportunity to reduce their premiums with Builders Mutual Insurance Company.

To register, visit HBACharleston.com or call 843-572-1414.  The course fee is $35. The deadline to register is September 5.
Read More

FHFA House Price Index Shows Gains for Twelve Consecutive Quarters
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced today that U.S. house prices rose 0.8 percent in the second quarter of 2014, according to its purchase-only, seasonally adjusted House Price Index (HPI). This is the twelfth consecutive quarterly price increase in the HPI.

The complete report can be downloaded by clicking here.

The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Compared with last year, house prices rose
5.2 percent from the second quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2014. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for June was up 0.4 percent from May, marking seven consecutive monthly increases.

“The extraordinary price appreciation observed over the last few spring seasons was not evident in the second quarter of this year. However, house price appreciation for the nation as a whole remained positive,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “FHFA’s data indicate that house price appreciation in the quarter was near or below the baseline rate of inflation in most states.”

FHFA’s expanded-data house price index, a metric that adds transaction information from county recorder offices and the Federal Housing Administration to the HPI data sample, rose 1.3 percent over the prior quarter. Over the last year, that index is up 6.2 percent. For individual states, price changes reflected in the expanded-data measure and the traditional purchase-only HPI are compared on pages 17-19 of this report.

Significant Findings
  • The seasonally adjusted, purchase-only HPI rose in 40 states during the second quarter of 2014, down from 42 states and the District of Columbia during the first quarter of 2014. The top annual appreciation was in: 1) Nevada, 2) California, 3) District of Columbia, 4) North Dakota, and 5) Arizona.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the second quarter, posting a 1.3 percent quarterly increase and a 9.8 percent increase since last year. House prices were weakest in the East South Central division, where prices decreased 0.1 percent from the prior quarter.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., second quarter price increases were greatest in the Winston-Salem, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) where prices increased by 4.6 percent. Prices were weakest in the Birmingham-Hoover, AL MSA, where they fell 4.9 percent. Positive quarterly appreciation was recorded in 74 of the 100 MSAs.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted, purchase-only index for the U.S. has increased for seven consecutive months and 23 of the last 24 months (it decreased in November 2013).
  • The Pacific and Mountain census divisions—the two divisions that saw the greatest price increases last quarter—continued to decelerate.
FHFA’s “distress-free” house price indexes, which are published for 12 large metropolitan areas (page 32), have recently reported lower quarterly appreciation than FHFA’s traditional purchase-only indexes. In half of the areas covered, the series—which removes short sales and sales of bank-owned properties—shows lower appreciation over the last quarter than the purchase-only series. During the last year, the share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages financing distressed sales has fallen in all but two areas covered by the FHFA indexes.

The complete list of state appreciation rates is on pages 14-15. The list of metropolitan area appreciation rates computed in a purchase-only series is on pages 29-31. Appreciation rates for the all-transactions metropolitan area indexes are on pages 35-48.

FHFA’s purchase-only and all-transactions HPI track average house price changes in either repeat sales or refinancings on the same single-family properties. The purchase-only index is based on more than 7 million repeat sales transactions, while the all-transactions index includes more than 51 million repeat transactions. Both indexes are based on data obtained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for mortgages originated over the past 39 years.
Read More

City of Greenville Infill Ordinance Receives Final Approval
Greenville City Council gave final approval to the much discussed Residential Infill Ordinance.  The ordinance is effective August 11, 2014.

The Infill Ordinance ordains the following:
  • Garages, carports, and driveways: must be constructed to be in character with the surrounding street and neighborhood.  New subdivisions may establish their own character, but the character of existing developments is being protected.  Generally, garages that protrude in front of the house on a street that does not have "snout" garages will not be allowed.  In addition, parking areas and circular driveways in front of homes will not be allowed unless there is a compelling reason to do so, like the house is on a busy street for example, or neighboring houses have parking in the front yard.
  • Stormwater: impervious surfaces on a single-family lot will be limited to 60 percent of the lot.  The portion of the lot covered by buildings was already limited to 40 percent of the lot.  The new ordinance limits additional impervious surfaces to another 20 percent, for a total of 60 percent.  The 60 percent threshold can be exceed, but the project will require stormwater mitigation specific to the individual lot.  Additional requirements also are imposed for "infill" subdivisions including a setback standard and character requirements for detention ponds.
  • Tree protection and replacement: The requirement for a tree survey for single-family residential development has been deleted. Instead, inclusive of all required trees (street trees), one canopy tree will be required for each 3,000 square fee of lot area, or portion thereof, excluding the footprint of the building.  Credit will be given, two-for-one, for each existing canopy tree saved if it is 6 inches or larger.  Planted trees must be a minimum of 2-1/2 inch caliper and maybe planted anywhere on the lot except where otherwise required (street trees).
  • The maximum height of a dwelling in R6 and R9 has been reduced to 35 feet measured to the centerline of the roof.  The maximum height remains 40 feet in all other districts.
 The objective of this ordinance is to preserve the character of existing neighborhoods, many of which are redeveloping, while not impacting the economic viability of infill activities.  "While the ordinance may limit consumer choice, it should succeed in insuring that infill activity remains an economically viable option for home buyers and home builders," Michael Dey, Executive Vice President of the Home Builders Association of Greenville, said.

Representing housing-related interests on the 17-member task force were:
  • Thomas Croft, Architect
  • John Edwards, Architect
  • David Crigler, Realtor and HBA member
  • Amanda Jones, Realtor and HBA member
  • Michael Dey, HBA of Greenville
  • Bruce Felton, Home Builder and HBA member
  • Matt Ruth, Remodeler and HBA member
  • Trey Cole, Remodeler and HBA member
The task force also included five representatives from neighborhood associations, three members of City Council, and a member of the Planning Commission.

To read the Residential Infill Development Ordinance, visit HBAofGreenville.com/public-policy-papers.php.
Read More

Army Corps: Walnut Trees are a Wetland Species

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a number of ways to determine whether a particular piece of property should be classified as a wetland, and potentially subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.

One of them is to see what sorts of grasses, sedges, trees and other vegetation is growing on the property ? and while cattails might be a dead giveaway, other plants might not seem so obvious.

But when the Corps decides that a walnut tree native to the hills of arid Southern California is a sign of a wetland, according to the National Wetlands Plant List, something’s a little haywire.

That’s why, with the help of expert consulting botanists, your Home Builders Association questioned the Corps’ determination. The good news? The association found out in May that its challenge, along with a similar request to change the rating for Japanese honeysuckle in other parts of the country, had been successful. The bad news? There are 8,055 challenges to go.

And unlike most other regulatory changes, the Corps can update the Plant List without going through the usual public notice and comment period. The list is updated at the Corps’ discretion and the changes appear online.

“This is a problem,” said NAHB Environmental Issues Committee Chair Charles “Chuck” Ellison, a builder in the Washington D.C. area and Delaware. “We need to know whether the decision to put a plant on the list is based on sound science. The process must be transparent.”

The committee is seeking the help of members whose projects have run afoul of the Plant List and will discuss its options during the National Association of Home Builders Fall Board of Directors meeting in Phoenix Sept. 3-6. For additional information, talk to Owen McDonough at 202-266-8662 or call Michael Dey at 864-254-0133.
Read More

NAHB: To Rent or Buy is Not an Either/Or Decision
A recent article in U.S. News & World Report by NAHB economist Robert Dietz shows why housing policy should support both home owners and renters. View the summary below.

Though public opinion polling indicates that most renters want to become home owners, the economic fallout from the Great Recession has produced a surge in rental demand and sluggish demand for homeownership, particularly among first-time buyers. The result has been a declining homeownership rate (64.8% for the second quarter of 2014), even as other housing indicators have improved.

While achieving ownership has been delayed for many younger families, over the last few years it has become relatively more common to hear pundits argue that as a society we should pull back our support for homeownership. Such discussions typically involve income and other economic-based descriptions of home owners and renters as if these groups or people were distinct and fixed classes.

The Circle of Homeownership
These contrasts are misleading. The lifecycle of homeownership has important consequences when examining differences between home owners and renters. Using government data and taking several factors into consideration ? age, marital status, income, children, space requirements and structure ? it becomes clear that most people will be renters and home owners during different stages of their lives.

First, home owners as a group are typically older than renters. Census data shows that the number of renters exceeds home owners for age groups younger than 35 but that the homeownership rate increases with age, rising from 59% for those in the 35-to-44 age bracket and equaling or exceeding 70% for those aged 45 to 84 years.

This makes sense given the typical pattern of an individual leaving school, renting in order to accumulate savings, and then purchasing a first home.

Since home owners as a group tend to be older, they also have higher incomes. The data reveal that the median household income of renters was $31,888 in 2012, compared to $65,514 for home owners. A considerable part of this income difference is due to age.

And because homeowners tend to be older, they are also more likely to be married. According to the Census data, 60% of home owners are married couples, compared to only 27% of renters.

Married couples are also more likely to have children present in the home, and therefore need more room and space. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Census data reveals that 84% of the nation’s single-family homes are comprised of home owners while multifamily housing tends to be renter dominated.

One-Size Policy Does Not Fit All
All of these factors produce the local and regional variations in homeownership across the nation. For example, urban dominated New York has the lowest homeownership rate among states at 54% (and the District of Columbia is lower still at 42%), while states with older populations in the Northeast and Midwest have higher homeownership rates.

These data highlight that policy debates should not frame renters and home owners as distinct classes. Support for the development of rental housing is an important social goal to maintain safe, affordable and decent housing for those for whom renting is the best choice. And preserving our nation’s commitment to homeownership is needed given the well-documented social and private benefits that homeownership produces for families and communities.

It would be a mistake to weaken policy support for either form of housing, as the result would be diminished housing policy overall.

View the full U.S. News & World Report story.

Read More

HBA Members Saved More than $7.2 Million Last Year
One of the perks of being a HBA member is an open door to exclusive discounts on a variety of products and services that can benefit your business, employees and family.

In the past year, members have saved more than $7.2 million through Member Advantage, which offers an easy way to reduce expenses, maximize profits and increase efficiency.

Major companies participating in the Member Advantage program include:
  • General Motors. Members can receive $500 off the purchase of most Buick, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles and business owners can receive up to $1,000 off select vehicles and may qualify for additional incentives. Visit nahb.org/ma to learn more.
  • Dell. Members can save up to 30% off top of the line Dell computers. For more details, visit www.dell.com/nahb or call 1-800-695-8133 and mention NAHB.
  • Geico. Exclusive discounts on auto and home insurance for members can be yours by visiting www.geico.com/disc/nahb or calling 1-800-368-2734 and mentioning NAHB for a free quote.
  • UPS. UPS discounts of up to 36% are available to members on a broad portfolio of shipping services, including air letters and packages, ground shipments, international imports and exports. Savings begin at 70% on UPS freight shipments over 150 pounds. Visit http://www.1800members.com/NAHB or call 1-800-MEMBERS (1-800-636-2377) for more information.
Visit nahb.org/ma for the most up-to-date information about which companies are offering discounts as well as detailed information on how to access the savings
Read More

GSA Business: SC house flipping slows
According to a report by GSA Business, house flipping in South Carolina has slowed, dropping from 5.3 percent of total sales in the first quarter of 2014 to 4.5 percent in the second quarter.

Flipping is defined as being sold twice in the same 12 month period. 

In the Upstate, in Greenville 4.1 percent of all house sales were flips, down 42 percent.  Spartanburg was higher at 4.9 percent, but still down 13 percent.  And in Anderson, 5.1 percent of houses sold were flips, up 26 percent.  Pickens County also saw a rise in flips to 4.6 percent, a 47 percent jump.

Read the complete report at GSA Business by clicking here.
Read More

National Data Indicates First Time Home Buyers are Still MIA
In the last year home building has surged 22 percent, and building permits are up 8 percent.  Even the Builder Confidence Index is up, now above 60.  However, first-time home buyers, which usually account for 30 percent of all new home buyers, is just 16 percent.

Why?  Underwriting guidelines, underemployment, high student loan debt, and a lower than expected opinion of homeownership, according to Dr. David Crowe, Chief Economist of the National Association of Home Builders.
Read More

Keith Smith Builders Takes Cabinet Makers Association Honors
Keith Smith Builders won six Wood Diamond Awards at the annual Cabinet Makers Association meetings in Atlanta.  Below are the projects and honors earned by Keith Smith Builders:

First Place, Architectural Millwork Category, Best Overall Project, More than $25,000
First Place,Best Overall Project, Best Overall
First Place, Fireplace, Best Overal
First Place, Game Room, Best Overall
First Place, Home Theater, Best Overall, More than $25,000
Second Place, Residential Bar, Best Overall, More than $25,000

Visit the galleries to see images of the award winners by clicking here.
Read More

Home Construction Rebounds in July

After a disappointing June report, housing starts rebounded to an annual rate of 1.093 million for a 15.7% increase over the upwardly revised June level. The substantial June dip, caused by a fall in single-family construction in the South, was eliminated as single-family construction rose 8.3% with increases in three of the four regions. Midwest single-family starts were down 6.8% to a 109,000 rate, but remain at about the same level as the second quarter average.

The Census and HUD data also indicated that multifamily starts increased to a 437,000 annual rate, the highest since February 2006. This increase was also spread across three of the four regions. Rental demand should continue to be strong, with recent CPI data and NAHB calculations showing inflation-adjusted rents up 1.4% over the last 12 months.

July’s home construction rebound mirrored rising home builder confidence. The August NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Index rose two more points to 55, approaching the 2014 high in January of 56. All three index subcomponents also increased. Expectations for the next six months increased by two points to 65, the highest since August 2013 and the index for traffic rose three points to 42, the highest since December 2013. The current sales index rose two points to 58.

A key question going forward is the degree to which the mix of buyers may change. The share of first-time home buyers remains weak, with a May NAHB survey showing only a 16% market share, compared to 25% to 28% between 2001 and 2007.

One consequence of this mix of buyers has been a rising trend in new single-family home size. However, this increase appeared to cool during the second quarter. Census data and NAHB analysis indicate that the median new single-family home size was 2,478 square feet, unchanged from the first quarter but 18% higher than cycle lows. More first-time buyers in the future will hold back growth in median new single-family home size.

Builder confidence in the single-family 55+ housing market was up again on a year-over-year basis in the second quarter, according to NAHB’s 55+ Housing Market Index. Compared to the second quarter of 2013, the 55+HMI for new single-family housing increased three points to 56?the highest second-quarter reading since the inception of the index in 2008 and the 11th consecutive quarter of year-over-year gains. One of the factors contributing to the positive outlook for new single-family 55+ housing is the slow but steady increase in existing home sales in the last three months.

The NAHB/First American Leading Markets Index advanced one point in the second quarter of 2014 to .89 from a June level of .88. The index measures the nation’s and 351 metropolitan markets’ proximity to normal economic and housing market activity. A value of one or more means the market is back to or above a normal level with an average of three components at or above one: single-family housing permits, house prices and employment levels. Over one-third (36%) of the metropolitan areas measured improvement since June and 78% of them improved since August 2014.

Consumer debt positions continue to improve, which should be a net positive for housing demand. Mortgage Bankers Association data indicate that mortgage delinquencies decreased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.04% at the end of the second quarter, 92 basis points below a year prior. And while total consumer credit, including auto and student loans, has expanded (by $62 billion in the second quarter), consumer debt service ratios remain low despite disappointing income growth.

However, home price gains, which improved consumer balance sheets, have taken a small toll on housing affordability. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index reached a level of 62.6 for the second quarter, meaning 62.6% of new and existing homes sold during the quarter were affordable to a family earning the U.S. median income of $63,900—down from the first quarter reading of 65.5.

Besides housing demand concerns, recent industry headwinds have included rising building material prices and scarcity. July producer price index data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that softwood lumber prices declined from June but remain above late 2013 prices. OSB prices dipped in July and added production capacity has kept price pressures in check. Gypsum prices are below 2014 highs but remain above their 2006 housing boom peak.

This more positive news concerning material prices matches a July NAHB industry survey that shows that shortages of key building materials have eased in 2014. Only 15% of builders reported some or serious shortages of trusses or clay bricks, the highest incidence among the more than 20 materials builders were asked about. Fourteen percent reported shortages of windows and doors, gypsum wall board, and cabinets.

Nonetheless, other headwinds persist. The count of unfilled construction sector jobs increased in June to 127,000, the fourth highest tally since the end of the recession. The number of job openings has grown significantly since 2011 as the housing industry has recovered. Since the point of peak job losses during the recession, the industry has added more than 301,000 jobs and the unemployment rate has fallen from 22% to 8.8% in July.

In analysis news, NAHB economists recently examined some of the consequences and factors determining homeownership for immigrant households. Analysts also looked at Census data concerning how people commute to work. The estimates show that from 2000 to 2012, the largest increases in total commuting were for driving alone, with working at home coming in second. Carpooling was down. Finally, NAHB examined recent global home price data.
Read More

Your HBA meets with Senator Tim Scott's Legislative Advisers
Michael Dey and Mike Freeman, GMB, left, meet with Senator Tim Scott's Legislative Advisers at the Realtors Association offices.

Mike Freeman, GMB, President of your Home Builders Association and Partner in ACA/Freewood Contracting, and Michael Dey, Executive Vice President, met today with legislative advisers to Senator Tim Scott.  The meeting was a joint session with the Greater Greenville Association of Realtors and Spartanburg Association of Realtors.

Joining the meeting from Senator Scott's staff were Jaron Smith, Senator Scott's Legislative Adviser on tax, budget, and banking issues, and Danielle Smith, Senator Scott's Upstate Regional Director.

The association representatives discussed the following topics:
  1.  Reforming and preserving the mortgage finance system and in particular, ensuring the continuation of the fixed-rate 30-year mortgage
  2. Blocking EPA rulemaking that will expand the definition of Waters of the U.S.
  3. Preserve real estate-related tax policies including: renewing Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act, preserving the mortgage interest deduction, preserving the property tax deduction, and preserving like-kind (1031) exchanges
  4. Reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act
Your Home Builders Association would like to thank the Greater Greenville Association of Realtors for setting up and hosting the meeting. "We have a great partnership with GGAR on governmental affairs matters," said Michael Dey, Executive Vice President.  "Our coalition continues to produce great results for the members of both associations."
Read More

Builder Breakfast TOMORROW! Sponsored by GBS
The HBA will be having our quarterly Builder Breakfast thisThursday, August 21st beginning at 7:30 a.m. This event is sponsored by GBS Building Supply and our featured speaker is Eric Vinson, AICP, Director of Planning and Codes Enforcement for Greenville County.
This event will be held at The Epicurean Restaurant. (1455 Woodruff Rd, Greenville)
Also, enjoy a short presentation on the latest and greatest products from KBRS-Tileable Shower Solutions and Plygem Stone courtesy of GBS Building Supply.
Don't miss out! 
Please R.S.V.P to 864-254-0133. This event is for Builder Members ONLY!

Read More

HBA to thank yearly sponsors at Annual Sponsorship Luncheon.

Your HBA would like to thank each of our generous sponsors at the Annual Sponsorship Luncheon on August 27th at Progress Lighting.
The event will begin at 11:30 a.m, for more information or to register please contact the HBA office at 864-254-0133.
This years sponsors include:

Read More

Housing Production on Upswing, Tops 1 Million in July
Fueled by strong single- and multifamily growth, housing starts rose 15.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.093 million units in July, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the highest number since November 2013.

“A return to production levels over one million confirms consumer confidence continues to improve,” said Kevin Kelly. “Propelled by a healthier economy, more and more people are feeling ready to buy a home.”

Single-family housing starts were up 8.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 656,000 units in July, while multifamily production jumped 28.9% to 437,000 units. Multifamily production has not been this high since February 2006.

Regionally in July, combined single- and multifamily housing production rose in the Northeast, South and West, with respective gains of 44 percent, 29 percent and 18.6 percent. Total production fell by 24.8 percent in the Midwest from an unusually high June level.

Issuance of building permits registered an 8.1 percent increase to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.052 million units in July. Multifamily permits rose 21.5 percent to 412,000 units while single-family permits increased by 0.9 percent to 640,000 units.

The Northeast, South and West registered overall permit gains of 18.8 percent, 9.6 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively, while the Midwest posted a 0.6 percent loss.
Read More

Greenville Roads Briefing Planned for August 26
A question will be on the ballot in November about whether the county should increase the general sales tax by one cent for eight years.  The proceeds of the tax increase, about $65 million per year, will be spent to improve the county's roads, bridges, and pedestrian facilities infrastructure.

If you are interested in knowing more about the proposal, you will have the opportunity to attend a briefing on Tuesday, August 26, 4 p.m. until 6 p.m., at Embassy Suites on Verdae Boulevard.  Light refreshments will be served.  The briefing will be provided by Citizens for a Better Greenville County, a coalition of business interests that your Home Builders Association has joined to support the referendum question.

You can RSVP to attend the briefing by emailing smoore@completepr.net.
Read More