News, Trends, Community - June

Social Networking

FaceBook and Twitter Catch On

Nineteen percent of home-improvement professionals in the ServiceMagic network have a company Facebook page and 5 percent of these professionals utilize Twitter for business, according to a survey released by the Golden, Colo.-based organization.

Of those with a company Facebook fan page:

  • 35 percent are using the platform to share company news
  • 32 percent are using their page to showcase project portfolios and customer testimonials
  • 13 percent are offering deals through their Facebook page
  • 16 percent are using it as a customer-service channel
  • 4 percent use their Facebook page to schedule appointments

Of the professionals with a company Twitter handle, sharing company news was the top use for this social-media channel. Less than 3 percent of consumers indicated they are using Facebook to locate service professionals for home-improvement projects; however, 28 percent of service professionals have received job leads through their company Facebook page.

Real Estate

Forecast Points to Rising Activity

Home sales are expected to stay on an uptrend through 2012 though the performance will be uneven with mortgage constraints weighing on the market, according to experts at a residential real-estate forum at the Realtors Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.

Lawrence Yun, Washington-based National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, said existing-home sales have been underperforming by historical standards and will rise gradually but unevenly. “If we just hold at the first-quarter sales pace of 5.1 million, sales this year would rise 4 percent, but the remainder of the year looks better,” Yun says. “We expect 5.3 million existing-home sales this year, up from 4.9 million in 2010, with additional gains in 2012 to about 5.6 million—that’s a sustainable level given the size of our population.”

Lead Renovation Rule

Maine Renovator First to Face Penalty

A Rockland, Maine, renovator and apartment building owner appears to be the first to face penalties for lead-safe work-practice violations, under the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, which became effective on April 22, 2010. The maximum penalty for the alleged violations is $37,500 per violation per day.

The violations were brought to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s attention via an anonymous tip linking to a video of the violations posted on YouTube.

According to an EPA news release, “two workers employed by Colin Wentworth of Rockland failed to contain dust and debris generated by lead paint removal activities during a repainting project in October 2010. Although Mr. Wentworth had completed the eight-hour course required by the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, he did not provide the required training or supervision to his employees to ensure that they followed the required work practices prior to their use of high-speed dust-generating power tools to remove lead paint from the building. Wentworth also failed to take steps to obtain the mandatory lead-safe certification for his firm.” For more information, visit www.epa.gov.

44% of homeowners believe the value of their home today is worth 20 percent or more than what they originally paid for it, declining from 46 percent in June 2010 and 51 percent in January 2010.
Source: Fannie Mae First-Quarter 2011 National Housing Survey

Acquisitions

Trex Buys Iron Deck

Winchester, Va.-based Trex Co., a manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing products, has acquired the assets of Iron Deck Corp., a manufacturer of steel deck framing systems based in Denver. Trex will manufacture and market new Trex Elevations Steel Deck Framing.

New Construction

Builder Confidence Unchanged

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes held unchanged at the low level of 16 in May, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The index has now remained at this level for six out of the past seven months.

One in three Americans expects home prices to strengthen during the next year, up 4 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2010
but virtually unchanged from a year ago.

Source: Fannie Mae First-Quarter 2011 National Housing Survey

Real Estate

Existing-home Sales Up in First Quarter

E xisting-home sales continued to recover in the first quarter with gains recorded in 49 states and the District of Columbia while 22 percent of the available metropolitan areas saw prices rise from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors, Washington, D.C.

Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condos, rose 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.14 million in the first quarter from 4.75 million in the fourth quarter and are only 0.8 percent below a 5.18 million pace during the same period in 2010.

Formaldehyde

Cabinetmakers Say Study Proves Point

The Washington-D.C.-based National Academy of Sciences’ review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 draft risk assessment about formaldehyde states the EPA failed to support its conclusions that formaldehyde causes respiratory cancers, leukemia and other health problems, including asthma. The NAS report says EPA “overstated” its conclusions that formaldehyde damages the nervous system and questioned the EPA link to reproductive effects, according to a statement by the Reston, Va.-based Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA).

“This long-awaited independent review by leading scientists confirms that EPA’s 1,000-page assessment does not prove that formaldehyde causes leukemia or other serious health problems,” says Dick Titus, KCMA executive vice president.

59% of Generation Y Americans expect their personal financial situation to improve during the next year compared to 49% among Generation X and 37% among Baby Boomers.
Source: Fannie Mae First-Quarter 2011 National Housing Survey

Remodeling Index

BuildFax Index Up 17th Straight Month

The Austin, Texas-based BuildFax Remodeling Index (BFRI) for March registered the 17th-straight month of year-over-year gains. The Residential BFRI rose 14 percent year-over-year to 98, the highest March number in the index aside from March 2006. Residential remodels in March were up month-over-month 2.9 points (3 percent) from the February value of 95.1 and up year-over-year 12 points from the March 2010 value of 86.

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