A Remodeling Education

Remodelers show a strong interest in professional education for themselves and their staff, and they even see it as a key to future success. Yet most budget less than 1 percent of their revenues toward attending trade shows and seminars, and other educational opportunities.

This information comes from a Qualified Remodeler survey of 643 remodelers conducted at year’s-end during the normal business planning cycle. The goal of the survey was to gauge remodelers’ level of investment in education at a time of year when the most optimistic commitments would be available.

Of the 643 respondents to the survey, 111 said they would not budget for any education expenses beyond the usual local product training and required safety courses. Thirty-seven percent, 237 respondents, said their education expenditures would be less than 1 percent of their annual budget.

At the same time 53 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that holding a professional designation such as Certified Remodeler or Certified Graduate Remodeler are important to their future success.

“Certifications will set you apart from the pack,” said one respondent, Randy Iacone CR, CKBR, who represented a number of comments submitted on behalf of pursuing industry designations. “Any intelligent business owner can see that. It is also reassuring to the homeowner that workers are certified. Those homeowners know all the horror stories about our industry.”

Despite the positives expressed by remodelers in favor of education and professional designations, many see insurmountable road blocks in seminar fees, time spent away from the business and hotel and airline costs.

“I live in California. There are almost no classes planned for the Southwestern United States,” wrote one survey respondent who did not give a name. “I looked into classes for a GMB (Graduate Master Builder) certification, and I figure it would have cost me about $3,000 in multiple air fares to travel back and forth across the country, maybe $1,500 in hotels and 7 to 10 days of travel and classroom time away from my business.”

Only 31 percent of the respondents, or 198, said that either they or one of their employees currently hold professional designations from one of the industry associations. Of those, 114 say they hold a Certified Remodeler designation from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Certified Graduate Remodeler designations from the Remodelors Council of the National Association of Home Builders numbered about 57 among the 198 who held designations.

One respondent summed up the desire for professional designations succinctly. “The remodeling market is fairly easy to enter. All you need is a hammer, a truck and a dog, or so it seems at times. The designations separate the professionals from the wannabes.”

Remodeling Drivers
Existing home sales surge in February

Existing-home sales rose in February following five months of decline, indicating a stabilization is taking place in the market.

Total existing-home sales — including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops — increased 5.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 6.91 million units in February from an upwardly revised pace of 6.57 million in January, but were 0.3 percent below a 6.93 million-unit level in February 2005.

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said mild weather appears to be responsible for some of the gain. “Weather conditions across much of the country were unseasonably mild in January and likely were a factor in higher levels of buyer activity, which boosted sales that closed in February,” he said. “Higher interest rates had been tapping the breaks, notably in higher-cost housing markets since mortgage interest rates trended up last fall, but we’re seeing signs of stabilization in the market now with the sales rebound. Home sales should level-out in the months ahead.”

Single-family home sales increased 4.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.06 million in February from 5.79 million in January, and were 0.2 percent below the 6.07 million-unit pace in February 2005. The median existing single-family home price was $208,500 in February, up 11.6 percent from a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 19.2 percent to an annual sales rate of 1.18 million units in February, and were 2.6 percent higher than February 2005. The median price in the Northeast was $263,000, which is 5.2 percent higher than a year ago.

Total existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 11.1 percent to a pace of 1.60 million in February, and were 1.9 percent above a year earlier. The median existing-home price in the Midwest was $160,000, up 3.9 percent from February 2005.

In the West, existing-home sales increased 5.1 percent to an annual pace of 1.44 million in February, but were 10.6 percent below February 2005. The median price in the West was $306,000, up 12.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South fell 2.5 percent in February to a level of 2.69 million, but were 3.1 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the South was $182,000, up 11.7 percent from February 2005.

Association News
Pronunciation of NARI put to rest

Ever since the formation of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry in the early 1980s, members of the group have had different ways of pronouncing the association’s well-known acronym. Some pronounced it so it rhymed with “starry” while others pronounced it so it would rhyme with “Mary.”

Among the many items on the association’s busy board of directors meeting docket last month in San Francisco was a motion to make the “starry” pronunciation official. If passed it would be the way members would be directed to pronounce the association’s acronym on radio advertisements and in other public forums. The measure was voted down and a second motion to make the official pronunciation rhyme with “Mary” passed. Officially, NARI now should rhyme with “Mary.”