News, Trends, Community - August

LEADING INDICATOR

Remodeling Spending to Accelerate

A recovery in home improvement spending will soon be underway according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Spending is expected to show an increase by the end of 2010, and the LIRA points to growth accelerating to the double-digit range in the first quarter of 2011.

“Absent a reversal of recent economic progress, there should be a healthy upturn in home improvement activity by year-end and into next year,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Homeowner optimism is bolstering a trend toward investing in the home again. “The recovery in home improvement activity appears to be moving beyond simple replacement projects and energy retrofits to broader remodels and upgrades,” says Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program. “A wider activity base would help generate the expected growth in the quarters ahead.”

ENVIRONMENT

LEED Certified Jobsite Trailer

Reno Contracting, San Diego, announced the first LEED certification of a jobsite construction trailer. The trailer serves as the operations offices for the Reno on-site team, and is presently located on a jobsite in Anaheim. The frame and exterior walls of the Reno trailer were salvaged from an old trailer and reused as part of the new one. This kept the project from requiring new steel and wood framing. Likewise, many of the building products used in the trailer contain recycled or reclaimed materials. The HVAC and lighting systems have been designed to minimize the amount of energy that the trailer uses.

31% of all residential properties sold in the first quarter of 2010 were foreclosure properties.

Source: Foreclosure Deals online listing service

REAL ESTATE

More Americans Looking to Purchase

While home sales may have dipped with the expiration of the first-time home buyer tax credit, a recent survey by Relocation.com suggests some families are opting for renting while they research, cash in hand, for deals on a new, more desirable home in their area. Of the 60 percent of individuals moving into rentals, 24 percent were previous homeowners renting temporarily while they look for a new home to purchase. For many of these families, foreclosure was not the reason for moving — in fact, the number of consumers who moved due to foreclosure dropped by 70 percent.

FINANCE

FHFA Shuts Down Financing Energy Retrofits

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) on July 6 effectively shut down Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs, which it said “present significant safety and soundness concerns.” It directed Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks to take steps to resolve problems with the first liens that are established by PACE loans. PACE programs enable the costs for energy-efficient upgrades to be repaid through a special assessment added to the home owner’s property tax bill.

NEW HOMES

Sales Bounce Back from Low

Coming off an historic low in May, sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 23.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 330,000 units in June, according to U.S. Commerce Department data. Meanwhile, the nationwide inventory of new homes for sale declined to 210,000 in June, the thinnest it has been since September of 1968. This amounts to a 7.6 months’ supply at the current sales pace.

REGULATIONS

NAHB to Sue EPA Over Lead Paint

A coalition of housing industry groups, including the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), announced plans to file a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for removing the “opt-out” provision from its Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule. The opt-out provision, which expired July 6, let consumers allow contractors to bypass extra preparation, cleanup and record-keeping requirements in homes where there were no children under 6 or pregnant women, avoiding additional costs.

“Removing the opt-out provision more than doubles the number of homes subject to the regulation,” said NAHB chairman Bob Jones. “About 79 million homes are affected, even though EPA estimates that only 38 million homes contain lead-based paint.”

The Hearth, Patio & Barbeque Association, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association joined NAHB in filing the petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

INDOOR ENVIRONMENT

Mold-Sniffing Dogs

A Florida-based indoor air quality franchise is using specially trained mold detection dogs to locate the sources of poor air quality in homes. Infrared cameras, laser particle counters, electronic moisture detection and laboratory analysis supplement 1-800-Got-Mold’s canine assessments. The dogs often are able to pinpoint mold growth without the destructive and invasive methods which might otherwise be required, the company says.

"Drywall sales in the United States are predicted to grow 12.4 percent annually through 2014 as the country’s housing market recovers from a period of significant turmoil."

Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm

ONLINE REMODELERS POLL

RRP Rule Delay
Do you favor a delay in implementing EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP)? (See figure 2)

AIR QUALITY

California CARB Emission Limits Adopted

A recently passed federal law, the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act (S.1660), restricts formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products sold or manufactured in the U.S. — including those imported. These products include hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard and particle-board, as well as goods made from these wood products. The formaldehyde standards are those originally established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

HOME SERVICES

ServiceLive.com Reaches 50,000 Monthly Transactions

ServiceLive.com, an online marketplace that competes in the home handyman services market, reported completion of more than 50,000 service orders in April and May. ServiceLive.com is a subsidiary of Sears Holdings.

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