Second Quarter Sees Modest Improvement
T he U.S. National Home Price Index rose 4.4 percent in the second quarter of 2010, after having fallen 2.8 percent in the first quarter, according to data through June 2010, released by NewYork-based Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.
Nationally, home prices are 3.6 percent above their year-earlier levels. In June, 17 of the 20 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) covered by the S&P/Case-Shiller indices and the 10- and 20-city monthly composites were up. In addition, the two composites and 15 MSAs showed year-over-year gains. Housing prices have rebounded from crisis lows, but other recent housing indicators point to more ominous signals as tax incentives have ended and foreclosures continue.
“The monthly composites cover June and the national index covers the second quarter, when the government’s program for first-time home buyers was winding down. While the numbers are upbeat, other more recent data on home sales and mortgages point to fewer gains ahead,” says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s. “Even with concerns about near-term developments, we recognize that the housing market is in better shape than this time last year. Further, California’s cities have moved from some of the hardest hit to three of the four leading cities based on year-over-year gains. Among the other hard-hit cities, the news is also a bit encouraging. Las Vegas, however, remains among the weaker cities.”
Homes Are Laboratories
Four homes completed recently in Oak Ridge, Tenn., showcase how scientific research can make dramatic changes in the cost of heating and cooling homes. The four houses, which are part of the ZEBRAlliance, use about 55 to 60 percent less energy than conventional houses while maintaining similar amenities. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory project team will switch out equipment, appliances and controls with the latest energy-efficient products as they become available. At the end of the 30-month research period, the houses will be offered for sale to the public.
The ZEBRAlliance project is a public-private partnership founded by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Schaad Companies, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based builder.
Energy Credit Expiring Soon
The Federal Energy Tax Credit for energy-efficient home improvements, including windows, doors, insulation, roofing, and heating and cooling systems, will expire Dec. 31. Consumers who purchase qualifying products before the deadline are eligible for a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the cost up to $1,500.
NARI Hires Lobbyist
The Des Plaines, Ill.-based National Association of the Remodeling Industry has hired lobbyist Thomas M. Sullivan to represent remodeling-industry interests in Washington, D.C. Sullivan, of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Washington, has 19 years’ experience in federal legislative and regulatory advocacy. Sullivan served for seven years as chief counsel for advocacy in the U.S. Small Business Administration, Washington.
Herbert Appointed to Harvard Studies Group
Christopher E. Herbert has been appointed research director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, Cambridge, Mass. Herbert is a nationally recognized expert in the design, implementation and management of research related to housing policy, housing markets, housing finance and urban development. He previously conducted research at the center during the course of his doctoral program at the Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Mass