Obama Backs ‘Cash for Caulkers’

In a speech outlining his plan to stimulate the labor market, President Obama proposed an incentive program intended to stimulate the housing industry just as “Cash for Clunkers” boosted the automotive industry.

Dubbed “Cash for Caulkers,” instead of incentives to purchase new cars the program would encourage homeowners to make energy-efficient purchases. Not only would homeowners save money, thousands of jobs would be created in the remodeling industry.

“Smart, targeted investments in energy efficiency can help create jobs while improving our energy security and saving consumers money,” the White House said in a press release.

Two similar proposals have already been floated — one by John Doerr, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and the other by former President Bill Clinton. As described in a New York Times article, the Doerr plan would create a $23 billion incentive program under which homeowners would pay at least 50 percent of the cost of weatherization projects. Some $3 billion would be set aside for promotion by retailers and contractors.

The Clinton plan involves the reallocation of funds from the stimulus bill that have not yet been spent.

Education

‘Cash for Caulkers’ Webinar Set

Exterior contractors can learn how to take advantage of the Obama administration’s proposed “Cash for Caulkers” program through a Webinar on January 27 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

The Webinar will be presented by Larry Zarker of the Building Performance Institute and moderated by Patrick O’Toole of Qualified Remodeler magazine. The session will give the latest news on the bill, which, in its present form would create $18 billion in homeowner incentives, $4 billion in retail incentives and $2 billion for energy audits.

The Webinar is one of six educational opportunities of particular interest to exterior contractors that will be offered during the first six months of 2010 in the form of Webinars offered via ExteriorContractor.com.

The second, scheduled for February 24 at 2 p.m. Eastern, will feature Dave Yoho and his colleague Brian Smith, who will address “The Science of In-Home Selling”.

ExteriorContractor.com is the Web site affiliated with the Exterior Contractor section that appears six times each year in Qualified Remodeler magazine.

For more information and to register, go to: www.exteriorcontractor.com/webinars2010.

Home Values

Losses Stabilize in 2009

U.S. homes lost $489 billion in home values during the first 11 months of 2009, significantly less than the $3.6 trillion lost during 2008, according to analysis of recent Zillow Real Estate Market Reports.

Forty-eight of the 154 markets tracked by Zillow showed gains in home values during 2009, with the Boston metropolitan statistical area (MSA) showing the largest gain of $23.3 billion. The Providence, R.I., MSA was second on the list, with a gain of $12.4 billion.

The stabilization in home values led to easing rates of negative equity in the third quarter of 2009, with 21 percent of all single-family homeowners with mortgages underwater, compared to 23 percent in the second quarter.

Pending Sales

Nine Consecutive Gains

Pending home sales have risen for nine months in a row, a first for the series of the index since its inception in 2001, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in October, increased 3.7 percent to 114.1 from 110.0 in September, and is 31.8 percent above October 2008 when it was 86.6. The rise from a year ago is the biggest annual increase ever recorded for the index, which is at the highest level since March 2006 when it was 115.2.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, cautioned that home sales could dip in the months ahead. “The expanded tax credit has only been available for the past three weeks, but the time between when buyers start looking at homes until they close on a sale can take anywhere from three to five months. Given the lag time, we could see a temporary decline in closed existing-home sales from December until early spring.”

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