News, Trends, Community - April

Remodeling Market

Top Counties for Remodeling

At $9.4 billion, Los Angeles County, Calif., leads the country for counties spending the most money on remodeling, according to a recent survey released by the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders.
Complete data is available free to NAHB Remodelers at nahb.org/countydata. NAHB members and others can access the data for a fee.

"Toward the end of 2010 and now in 2011, people want to focus on their homes. The fear factor is gone, and we are seeing an uptick in qualified leads."

CoCo Harper, Jackson Design & Remodeling, San Diego

Consumer Sentiment

Homeowners Ready to Remodel

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based RemodelOrMove.com released its U.S. Remodeling Sentiment Report for Spring 2011. Of the 5,000 homeowners surveyed, 84 percent responded they probably will start their remodel in the next 12 months. This compares with just 70 percent who in 2009 reported they would remodel. It still isn’t at the levels of 2006—during the heyday for remodeling—when 90 percent of those participating in the survey stated they would remodel. While the confidence to remodel is increasing, the scale of the remodeling projects continues to be at the lowest levels recorded. During the past two years, homeowners have been reporting they plan to remodel or add an average of just 2.6 rooms, compared to 3.4 in 2006.

Home Prices

Home Prices Down 5.7 Percent

Santa Ana, Calif.-based CoreLogic’s January Home Price Index shows home prices in the U.S. declined for the sixth month in a row. National home prices, including distressed sales, declined by 5.7 percent in January 2011 compared to January 2010 after declining by 4.7 percent in December 2010 compared to December 2009. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices declined by 1.6 percent in January 2011 compared to January 2010 and by 3.2 percent in December 2010 compared to December 2009. Distressed sales include short sales and real-estate owned transactions.

Permit Data

Remodeling Permits Up 22 Percent in January

The Residential BuildFax Remodeling Index rose 22 percent year-over-year—and for the 15th straight month—in January to 99, the highest January number in the history of the index, which was established in 2004 at an initial value of 100. Residential remodels in January were down month-over-month 4.8 points (5 percent) from the December value of 103.8 and up year-over-year 17.6 points from the January 2010 value of 81.4.

“The BuildFax Remodeling Index gives clear indication that every region and the nation as a whole are seeing increased remodeling activity from the low point of the recent recession. The Midwest, West and the nation as a whole have recovered to prerecession levels or better while the South and Northeast are still recovering,” says Joe Masters Emison, vice president of research and development at Austin, Texas-based BuildFax.

For more details and historical index values, visit Index.Buildfax.com.

Mortgages

Foreclosure Activity Decreases 14 Percent

Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for February 2011 shows foreclosure filings—
default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions—were reported on 225,101 U.S. properties, a 14 percent decrease from the previous month and a 27 percent decrease from February 2010. The latter is the biggest year-over-year decrease since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in 2005. The report also shows one in every 577 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.

Community Action

N.C. Remodelers Council Volunteers

A newly remodeled, handicap accessible home was revealed to homeowners Rachelle Friedman and Chris Chapman during a live episode of NBC’s “Today Show” earlier this year thanks to the efforts of The Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County. The rescue-remodel project modified the Knightdale, N.C., home to be handicap accessible and create more usable living space for Friedman who was paralyzed as the result of a freak accident during a bachelorette party. The Remodelers Council was invited by the “Today Show” and “George to the Rescue,” a home-improvement television show, to serve as the certified experts for the project. A complete list of sponsors can be found at Hbawake.com/about/george-to-the-rescue.

Associations

Pella’s Elaine Sagers to Head WDMA

Elaine Sagers, vice president of marketing and customer support at Pella, Iowa-based Pella Corp., has been elected chairwoman for the executive committee of the Washington, D.C.-based Window & Door Manufacturers Association.

  • Other members of the 2011-12 WDMA executive committee are:
  • Vice Chairman, Door Division: Ann Duebner, Eggers Industries, Two Rivers, Wis.
  • Vice Chairman, Window Division: Mike Salsieder, Kolbe and Kolbe Millwork, Wausau, Wis.
  • Treasurer: Al Babiuk, Loewen Windows, Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada
  • Immediate Past Chairman: Stephen Sisson, Karona Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Supplier Representative: Tom Kaiser, Cardinal Industries, Eden Prairie, Minn.

Remediation

Chinese Drywall Solutions

A publication for builders and remodelers about how to detect and remediate problematic drywall imported from China is available from the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders. The publication represents more than a year of intensive research, testing, analysis and evaluation under the auspices of NAHB’s Chinese Drywall Task Force, whose mission was to identify a permanent solution to problems with drywall emitting or offgassing corrosive compounds, which can lead to blackening of copper electrical wiring and air-conditioning evaporator coils and can cause mechanical, electrical and electronic failures. “Imported Problematic Drywall: Identification Strategies and Remediation Guidelines” can be downloaded at Nahb.org/DrywallGuidelines.

New Construction

Builder Confidence Up One Point in March

After four consecutive months hovering at the same low level, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved by a single point in March, rising to 17 on the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. This is the highest level the HMI has reached since May 2010, when the survey period corresponded with the final days of the federal home-buyer tax-credit program.

Looking Back ...

Thirty years ago, in the April 1981 issue of Qualified Remodeler, Dave Sauer, founder and then-publisher, predicted in his monthly editorial a trend that never quite came to pass—affordable housing for a market that has long since vanished. Not dreaming of the subsequent spread of McMansions, Sauer wrote:

“Economist Judith Mackey and urbanologist George Sternlieb are alerting the nation, and giving remodelers early notice, to a movement that is catching on fast: the conversion of single family homes to two or more family units! Mackey calls them in-home apartments.

“Dr. Sternlieb lays the logic on the line with the observation that 50 percent of this nation’s family formations are one and two person households. They are not looking for suburban acreage or a median priced $64,000 three bedroom home. Affordable lodging is the primary requirement of today’s ‘mingles market.’”

“Mingles,” by the way, were singles living together, as an article in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine explained at the time.

The April 1981 issue of QR also contained an item about the “formaldehyde controversy.”

“The recent Consumer Product Safety Commission decision to ban the use of urea formaldehyde foam insulation on cancer-causing grounds has brought protest from the Formaldehyde Institute. It called the CPSC action ‘scientifically unjustified and inconsistent with current health information.’ The institute argued that more than 500,000 homeowners have insulated their residences with this product and now could experience a substantial devaluation in resale price due to the commission’s action.”

Thirty years later, urea formaldehyde foam insulation is no longer a significant issue, but formaldehyde’s use in other building products is still a concern. On July 7, 2010, President Obama signed the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act into law. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to promulgate final regulations, implementing the act by Jan. 1, 2013.

What happened to the homes that were insulated with urea-formaldehyde foam insulation in the 1980s?

According to the EPA, “Studies show that formaldehyde emissions from UFFI decline with time; therefore, homes in which UFFI was installed many years ago are unlikely to have high levels of formaldehyde now.”

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