February 25, 2016

The Honor Was All Mine

There is a saying that goes something like this; "all good things come to an end." Well, there is some truth to that paraphrased statement. I'd like to think that all good things that come to an end, if they leave lasting results, really don't come to an end; they give birth to better things. This can be said for our national leaders as they progress up the ladder to NAHB Chairman of the Board. When their year is over as chairman, they remain, for their final senior officer year, as the Immediate Past Chairman. Then, it's off into the sunset. That's not a negative, it's a testament to the dedication of these individuals and it is a rest well earned. Five years of their life is given to NAHB senior leadership, five years away from business and family, five years given to each NAHB member. Yes, I know, you didn't ask them to make these sacrifices. That is the beauty of their leadership; they didn't need to be asked.

Kevin Kelly is one of those who I salute and I  would ask all of you to salute him as well. Kevin has been a friend and mentor to quite a few members as well as a champion of our industry. The legendary Leon Weiner, Kevin's late employer and stalwart of our industry, would have been most proud of Kevin and his tenure. 

I asked  Kevin to give me, us, a recap of his "time served' and I am very pleased to bring you his thoughts and I would like to say to him, from a personal perspective... BRAVO!

The Honor Was All Mine 

Kevin Kelly
As the 2016 IBS concluded, so did my term as an NAHB Senior Officer. It was the fastest five years of my life!  But what a privilege!  What an opportunity!  What an honor!

To be entrusted by your peers to lead NAHB as Chairman (2014) was the honor of my professional life. I can tell you emphatically that the senior officers that I served with, supported by our superb NAHB staff, were relentless in advocating for and defending the housing industry.  Additionally, we constantly worked to improve the services provided to members.

During my term I testified at numerous Congressional Hearings, personally met nearly a dozen times with Housing Secretaries Donovan and Castro, met with the President, sat across the table from Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and later Janet Yellen, met with lots of federal agencies (OSHA, HUD, FHA, OMB, CFPB, FHFA, FNMA) that impact our businesses on a daily basis.  I was honored to speak at a White House Conference on Housing, met on four different occasions in the West Wing with the White House Economic Council, marched the Halls of Congress, spoke at Housing Symposiums around the Country…but the most memorable experience was to participate in the dedication of a home to a wounded warrior.

While carrying the message of “Housing” in our Nation’s Capitol can be an exercise in extreme frustration, visiting our local and state associations around the country is anything but!  It is uplifting and inspiring.  During my years as an NAHB Officer I crisscrossed the country to visit and hear from members at small, medium and large associations.  Visiting with members across the federation was like getting a shot of adrenaline – it always buoyed my spirits and renewed my sense of optimism for the future of our industry and our association.  At each visit I listened and learned.  The visits also served to reinforce the special and unique nature of our federation, the diversity of our industry, and brought into sharp focus the commonalities we share – the passion for our craft, the spirit of community, the generosity of our members, and the loyalty and dedication members have for their associations. 

As we know, our local associations are the bedrock on which the federation rests - I have repeatedly said the success of our local association and NAHB are inextricably linked.

To be prepared for my visits I tried to anticipate the questions many rank and file members have in the back of their minds but were often too polite to publicly ask: What has NAHB done for me lately?  Why should I continue to pay dues?  What am I getting in return for my investment?

These are valid questions and I had an obligation to answer them honestly and in an understandable manner.  With my years of involvement at NAHB, I knew what a bargain my membership was; I knew that there was invaluable work being done by staff and member volunteers that allowed me and every builder, developer, remodeler and associate in the federation to produce more housing at a far lower cost than would be possible without the work of NAHB. 

But the question remained:  How best to translate all that was being done so members could see the direct impact on their business, and better appreciate what a terrific return they received on their dues investment?  This was our challenge.

During my years as an officer there was a collective decision made to place a greater emphasis on addressing this challenge by better “marketing” NAHB. We needed to dramatically enhance and improve our communications effort.  Many steps were taken. One example was to tell members in a simple, succinct way how much our advocate efforts saved them every year.

One way to translate things was to stop talking in broad terms – “National impact etc.,”, stop talking about billions of dollars in savings and use a far more meaningful metric. This began in 2012 – Savings per Start.  In 2012 that was $7,250 per start; in 2013, $6,200 (remember the $6,200 bill that was handed out at IBS); 2014 = $6,882; and 2015 = $5,707.

But this is only one of a number of steps that we’ve taken.

Improved and more effective communication remains a work in progress at NAHB. NAHB reformatted its newsletter, bulletins and alerts to ensure they function as a quick reference.  Our new and greatly improved website was rolled out and is constantly being improved, but the work continues.

In reflection I can point with pride to the implementation of the EO Orientation Program (no cost to EO’s or local associations), the development and implementation of the “Field Rep Program” and to strengthen and enhance the relationship with The Executive Officers Council (EOC).

And the necessary and critically important challenge of increasing involvement of younger members in our federation – an outgrowth of the work of “Operational Efficiency Task Force.”

Thank you one and all for this extraordinary opportunity and privilege. The honor was all mine!

February 18, 2016

In Two Weeks... Bringing Housing Home!

'tis the season! No, not Christmas but "Bringing Housing Home," which truly is a celebratory time in our industry. We, as members of our respective local home builders associations, meet with the lawmakers of America. Our congressmen and U.S. senators. the federal legislators need to experience the face to face discussions of what affects our industry, good or bad. They need to hear how we all have people who we have responsibility for, such as family, employees, co-workers, employers. We also have responsibility, in varying degrees, for the home buyer and home owners, making sure that housing is protected and affordable. everyone I just mentioned is a potential voter and every one I just mentioned who votes brings other votes to the table. 
From the National Association of Home Builders; "Bringing Housing Home Legislative Conference is an opportunity for members to have in-district meetings with their U.S. representative and senators. These meetings, especially important in this presidential election year, are critical to enhance relationships with our elected officials and to showcase the economic benefits of the housing industry. The 2016 Bringing Housing Legislative Conference takes place March 7-11. At that time, every NAHB member is encouraged to meet with their U.S. representative and senators in their home offices and talk to these federal lawmakers about the pressing issues that affect your business and our industry.
While the House will be in recess during the week of March 7, the Senate will be in session. However, we anticipate opportunities will exist to meet with your senators in their home districts during this period."
If not us, then who would you suggest fight for our industry? I know here in my state we are diligently working to set these meeting dates for that week. I can't sit back and let others speak for me when I am the one who pulls the "lever in the booth." I need to make sure my voice is heard because I won't let others do the work for me, not as long as I earn a living in the great industry.
Now my question is very simple; won't you join me in this cause?
If the answer is "YES" then here is the link that will help you "help you;"  

February 11, 2016

NAHB Chairman of the Board, Ed Brady

The Chairman of the Board for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has tremendous responsibilities and takes a lot of time away from business and family. It's a love of our industry that drives our builder members to the pinnacle of association leadership. The chairmen I have known over the years have that one quality that unites them; protecting our members. The men and women who have led NAHB all have left their mark on our members' destinies.  
Our 2016 NAHB Chairman of the Board is cut from that same cloth and carries the trait I have always admired in true NAHB leaders, local, state or national; our industry, first and foremost. I am referring to Ed Brady, this year's Chairman of the Board. Ed has done so much for our association and all for the betterment of us, the NAHB membership.  
Ed's biography can be read by clicking here and it will give you a better read on the man who I call friend, teammate and visionary. 
Ed, thank you for taking the time to "speak" to our readers.

Chairman Brady's Message to the Federation

As NAHB’s 2016 Chairman, I’m looking forward to working with members throughout the federation this year to improve the business environment for home building and move our industry forward. Perhaps the most effective way to do this is to ensure that our elected officials appreciate housing’s importance to the nation’s economy and their constituents’’ well-being and are aware of our perspective on important housing issues. We will have a great opportunity to engage our current elected officials through “Bringing Housing Home,” our third annual in-district legislative conference, which is scheduled for March 7-11.
Ed Brady, Chairman of the Board, NAHB

During a House of Representatives recess that week, we are encouraging all NAHB members and HBAs to meet with their representatives and senators in their home offices to discuss issues affecting the home building industry. Even though the Senate will be in session that week, we anticipate that members will have the chance to meet with their senators in-district during this period as well.“Bringing Housing Home” has been hugely successful in the past two years, and we’re expecting another very productive event this year. 
I urge members to reach out to your elected officials, remind them of housing’s importance and emphasize the crucial need for housing-friendly policies. Everything you need to know about participating in Bringing Housing Home 2016 is available at bringinghousinghome.com. With the election coming up in November, it is also essential that we impress our key priorities on the presidential candidates as well as the people running for state and local office.

Our senior leadership team is reaching out to every presidential campaign to have face-to-face discussions regarding housing policy.  We hope to take advantage of a competitive election — when policy makers are most receptive — to move our agenda forward and ensure that they make housing a priority in their campaigns.  

Another significant effort this year will be continuing the fight against excessive and overly burdensome regulations. Imposed by government at all levels, these rules touch on every aspect of our business, from the environment and housing finance to labor policies and more. Residential construction has made significant headway since the depths of the Great Recession, but we must put the brakes on excessive and ineffective regulations if we want to keep the momentum going.
In addition to working with legislators and presidential candidates, we will also work with regulators, meeting frequently with officials from HUD, the EPA and other federal agencies to demonstrate why excessive rules can harm our industry, our customers and the greater economy. And if it becomes necessary, we won’t hesitate to go to court to facilitate policy change.

We do all this because housing America’s families is a tremendous responsibility. Creating a home is a complex job, and harmful regulations and misguided laws only make it more of an uphill battle. With rational, cost-effective and realistic measures in place, our whole sector can move forward.  We’re going to do everything possible to make that happen. 

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

February 4, 2016

First Look at the National 2016 Housing Outlook

Our first guest blogger for the new year, and one I am honored to have on Association Maximization,  is  Robert D. Dietz, Ph.D. Dr. Dietz is the incoming Chief Economist for NAHB, where his responsibilities include housing market analysis, residential construction industry forecasting and surveys, and housing policy research. Dr. Dietz has published academic research and testified before Congress on the private and social benefits of home-ownership, federal tax expenditure estimation, and other housing and tax issues. Prior to joining NAHB in 2005, Robert worked as an economist for the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation and served as the committee's housing and real estate expert. He is a native of Dayton, Ohio and earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the Ohio State University in 2003.

Dr. Dietz, the time is now yours...

Expansion for the Year Ahead

Robert D. Dietz, Ph.D
After solid growth in 2015, ongoing job creation, pent-up housing demand and improving household formation point to gains in 2016 for all segments of the residential construction industry.

Despite the limited recovery that has occurred since the end of the Great Recession, single-family production remains about half of normal conditions given population growth and the need to replace older housing. And while growth is expected to remain modest with occasional periods of volatility, 2016 should be the first year in which the growth rate for single-family construction exceeds multifamily, which has up to this point led way in terms of the recovery in home building.

NAHB Economics is forecasting a growth rate of more than 15% for single-family construction in 2016, after a pickup of 10% for 2015. Jobs gains averaging about 240,000 a month, unemployment hovering around 5%, and healthy builder confidence all point to expansion for single-family construction.

Multifamily starts should expand a smaller, yet still positive, 2% in 2016, after growth of 11% for the past year. The gains for apartment construction will be smaller in 2016 in part due to the increasing supply of units under development and some markets reaching a mature stage in this part of the development cycle. The remodeling industry should grow 3% in 2016 as the existing home resale market will be effectively flat under tight inventory conditions.

One issue to keep an eye on in 2016 is monetary policy. For the first time in years, the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee raised its target for the short-term federal funds rate. Despite global economic turbulence and early stock market losses, most analysts expect future rate hikes in 2016 as monetary policy moves away from recession era targets of effectively zero interest rates. While short-term rates should rise, the impact on mortgage interest rates is expected to be manageable. For example, NAHB is forecasting an average 30 year fixed mortgage interest rate of 4.4% in 2016.

While demand side conditions will remain positive, an ongoing challenge for the home building industry will remain in the form of supply-side headwinds. Among these challenges are the three L’s: lots, lending and labor. A shortage in building lots is constraining construction activity in some markets. Tight lending conditions for buyers and builders has also had impacts, particularly entry-level buyers. A dearth of first-time buyers is both a short-term and medium-term (future move-up buyers) for builders.

The top supply side challenge for building will be the same in 2016 as it was in 2015: access to labor. The unfilled jobs rate for the overall construction sector has been rising in recent years, as tight hiring conditions are now affecting other industries. This issue has the possibility of raising average construction time and cost of housing.

Despite these headwinds, 2016 promises to be another year of growth for home building. Ongoing job growth and rebuilding of the industry’s infrastructure will offer expansion for all segments of the residential construction industry.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

PS: If you have any questions for Dr. Dietz, please click on my email embedded in my name above and I will forward to him. Or, simply go to nahb.org and contact Dr. Dietz there.