Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BBB To Offer Social Media Seminars on September 9th

Whether you are just starting to figure out social media, or you are looking to improve your current strategy, we have just what you need! Join us for a day of social media seminars, or pick and choose just the sessions you would like to attend. From social media basics and strategy to understanding content and blogging, Carol Morgan and Mitch Levinson, managing partners at mRELEVANCE, LLC, will provide you with the expertise and tools you need to get your business noticed in today’s social media world.

On September 9th there will be three seminar opportunities:

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Social Media Lab
Social Media Lab is a hands-on workshop designed to train professionals on how to effectively use social media to enhance their online reputation, reach existing customers and build relationships with target audiences. This lab covers the “how to basics” of Facebook, Twitter and blogging. Get started with the right sites and strategy with tips and insight.

12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Luncheon
He Said, She Said.
Get the answers to the most commonly asked questions related to online marketing from two different perspectives in He Said, She Said. Mitch answers questions from the perspective of how to improve your search engine optimization, while Carol focuses on how to create great content that attracts and engages readers on your blog and social media sites.

2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
10 Tips to Rev Up Your Social Media Program
Learn how these valuable, actionable tips will help accelerate your social media program by taking it to the next level. Whether you just launched a social media program or already have one and are looking for ways to improve it, this fun, interactive session will give you the horsepower you need to kick your program into high gear.

HBA members can pick the sessions they would like to attend for $30 each ($40 for the luncheon seminar), or attend all three for $100.

To register, visit Upstatesc.BBB.org or call 864-242-6905.

About the Presenters
Mitch Levinson and Carol Morgan
Carol Morgan and Mitch Levinson are partners in mRelevance, LLC, a real estate marketing firm with offices in Chicago and Atlanta.

Carol Morgan focuses on marketing strategy and integrating public relations, social media, content and creative to tell engaging stories for clients that garner measurable traffic. Carol is the author of Social Media 3.0, published by BuildersBooks.com, and creator of the nationally-ranked and award-winning AtlantaRealEstateForum.com, Atlanta’s popular real estate blog. She is the 2014 Chair of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Professional Women in Building Council and a member of NAHB’s Public Affairs committee.

Mitch Levinson is the author of “Internet Marketing: The Key to Increased New Home Sales.” An Internet marketing expert with proficiency in search engine optimization, website development, email marketing, social media and CRM consulting services, Mitch works to make all things digital more
effective for clients. He is chair of the National Association of Home Builders Institute of Residential Marketing and a Director of the National Sales and Marketing Council.

OSHA Training Opportunity

The Home Builders Association of Charleston will host a two-day OSHA training course on September 9-10 at the Charleston Area Convention Center.

Attending members will learn to:
  • Write and maintain an effective safety program
  • Understand the effect of job site safety on insurance premiums
  • Anticipate what to expect from an OSHA inspection, including your rights
  • Comply with OSHA standards for fall protection, electrical, PPE, and more
  • Save money by avoiding fines
  • Earn a course completion card from Federal OSHA
Participants will become Fall Protection Certified and will have the opportunity to reduce their premiums with Builders Mutual Insurance Company.

To register, visit HBACharleston.com or call 843-572-1414.  The course fee is $35. The deadline to register is September 5.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

FHFA House Price Index Shows Gains for Twelve Consecutive Quarters

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced today that U.S. house prices rose 0.8 percent in the second quarter of 2014, according to its purchase-only, seasonally adjusted House Price Index (HPI). This is the twelfth consecutive quarterly price increase in the HPI.












The complete report can be downloaded by clicking here.

The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Compared with last year, house prices rose
5.2 percent from the second quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2014. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for June was up 0.4 percent from May, marking seven consecutive monthly increases.

“The extraordinary price appreciation observed over the last few spring seasons was not evident in the second quarter of this year. However, house price appreciation for the nation as a whole remained positive,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “FHFA’s data indicate that house price appreciation in the quarter was near or below the baseline rate of inflation in most states.”

FHFA’s expanded-data house price index, a metric that adds transaction information from county recorder offices and the Federal Housing Administration to the HPI data sample, rose 1.3 percent over the prior quarter. Over the last year, that index is up 6.2 percent. For individual states, price changes reflected in the expanded-data measure and the traditional purchase-only HPI are compared on pages 17-19 of this report.

Significant Findings
  • The seasonally adjusted, purchase-only HPI rose in 40 states during the second quarter of 2014, down from 42 states and the District of Columbia during the first quarter of 2014. The top annual appreciation was in: 1) Nevada, 2) California, 3) District of Columbia, 4) North Dakota, and 5) Arizona.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the Pacific division experienced the strongest increase in the second quarter, posting a 1.3 percent quarterly increase and a 9.8 percent increase since last year. House prices were weakest in the East South Central division, where prices decreased 0.1 percent from the prior quarter.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., second quarter price increases were greatest in the Winston-Salem, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) where prices increased by 4.6 percent. Prices were weakest in the Birmingham-Hoover, AL MSA, where they fell 4.9 percent. Positive quarterly appreciation was recorded in 74 of the 100 MSAs.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted, purchase-only index for the U.S. has increased for seven consecutive months and 23 of the last 24 months (it decreased in November 2013).
  • The Pacific and Mountain census divisions—the two divisions that saw the greatest price increases last quarter—continued to decelerate.
FHFA’s “distress-free” house price indexes, which are published for 12 large metropolitan areas (page 32), have recently reported lower quarterly appreciation than FHFA’s traditional purchase-only indexes. In half of the areas covered, the series—which removes short sales and sales of bank-owned properties—shows lower appreciation over the last quarter than the purchase-only series. During the last year, the share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages financing distressed sales has fallen in all but two areas covered by the FHFA indexes.

The complete list of state appreciation rates is on pages 14-15. The list of metropolitan area appreciation rates computed in a purchase-only series is on pages 29-31. Appreciation rates for the all-transactions metropolitan area indexes are on pages 35-48.

Background
FHFA’s purchase-only and all-transactions HPI track average house price changes in either repeat sales or refinancings on the same single-family properties. The purchase-only index is based on more than 7 million repeat sales transactions, while the all-transactions index includes more than 51 million repeat transactions. Both indexes are based on data obtained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for mortgages originated over the past 39 years.

Monday, August 25, 2014

City of Greenville Infill Ordinance Receives Final Approval

Greenville City Council gave final approval to the much discussed Residential Infill Ordinance.  The ordinance is effective August 11, 2014.

The Infill Ordinance ordains the following:
  • Garages, carports, and driveways: must be constructed to be in character with the surrounding street and neighborhood.  New subdivisions may establish their own character, but the character of existing developments is being protected.  Generally, garages that protrude in front of the house on a street that does not have "snout" garages will not be allowed.  In addition, parking areas and circular driveways in front of homes will not be allowed unless there is a compelling reason to do so, like the house is on a busy street for example, or neighboring houses have parking in the front yard.
  • Stormwater: impervious surfaces on a single-family lot will be limited to 60 percent of the lot.  The portion of the lot covered by buildings was already limited to 40 percent of the lot.  The new ordinance limits additional impervious surfaces to another 20 percent, for a total of 60 percent.  The 60 percent threshold can be exceed, but the project will require stormwater mitigation specific to the individual lot.  Additional requirements also are imposed for "infill" subdivisions including a setback standard and character requirements for detention ponds.
  • Tree protection and replacement: The requirement for a tree survey for single-family residential development has been deleted. Instead, inclusive of all required trees (street trees), one canopy tree will be required for each 3,000 square fee of lot area, or portion thereof, excluding the footprint of the building.  Credit will be given, two-for-one, for each existing canopy tree saved if it is 6 inches or larger.  Planted trees must be a minimum of 2-1/2 inch caliper and maybe planted anywhere on the lot except where otherwise required (street trees).
  • The maximum height of a dwelling in R6 and R9 has been reduced to 35 feet measured to the centerline of the roof.  The maximum height remains 40 feet in all other districts.
 The objective of this ordinance is to preserve the character of existing neighborhoods, many of which are redeveloping, while not impacting the economic viability of infill activities.  "While the ordinance may limit consumer choice, it should succeed in insuring that infill activity remains an economically viable option for home buyers and home builders," Michael Dey, Executive Vice President of the Home Builders Association of Greenville, said.

Representing housing-related interests on the 17-member task force were:
  • Thomas Croft, Architect
  • John Edwards, Architect
  • David Crigler, Realtor and HBA member
  • Amanda Jones, Realtor and HBA member
  • Michael Dey, HBA of Greenville
  • Bruce Felton, Home Builder and HBA member
  • Matt Ruth, Remodeler and HBA member
  • Trey Cole, Remodeler and HBA member
The task force also included five representatives from neighborhood associations, three members of City Council, and a member of the Planning Commission.

To read the Residential Infill Development Ordinance, visit HBAofGreenville.com/public-policy-papers.php.

Army Corps: Walnut Trees are a Wetland Species


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a number of ways to determine whether a particular piece of property should be classified as a wetland, and potentially subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.

One of them is to see what sorts of grasses, sedges, trees and other vegetation is growing on the property – and while cattails might be a dead giveaway, other plants might not seem so obvious.

But when the Corps decides that a walnut tree native to the hills of arid Southern California is a sign of a wetland, according to the National Wetlands Plant List, something’s a little haywire.

That’s why, with the help of expert consulting botanists, your Home Builders Association questioned the Corps’ determination. The good news? The association found out in May that its challenge, along with a similar request to change the rating for Japanese honeysuckle in other parts of the country, had been successful. The bad news? There are 8,055 challenges to go.

And unlike most other regulatory changes, the Corps can update the Plant List without going through the usual public notice and comment period. The list is updated at the Corps’ discretion and the changes appear online.

“This is a problem,” said NAHB Environmental Issues Committee Chair Charles “Chuck” Ellison, a builder in the Washington D.C. area and Delaware. “We need to know whether the decision to put a plant on the list is based on sound science. The process must be transparent.”

The committee is seeking the help of members whose projects have run afoul of the Plant List and will discuss its options during the National Association of Home Builders Fall Board of Directors meeting in Phoenix Sept. 3-6. For additional information, talk to Owen McDonough at 202-266-8662 or call Michael Dey at 864-254-0133.

NAHB: To Rent or Buy is Not an Either/Or Decision

A recent article in U.S. News & World Report by NAHB economist Robert Dietz shows why housing policy should support both home owners and renters. View the summary below.

Though public opinion polling indicates that most renters want to become home owners, the economic fallout from the Great Recession has produced a surge in rental demand and sluggish demand for homeownership, particularly among first-time buyers. The result has been a declining homeownership rate (64.8% for the second quarter of 2014), even as other housing indicators have improved.

While achieving ownership has been delayed for many younger families, over the last few years it has become relatively more common to hear pundits argue that as a society we should pull back our support for homeownership. Such discussions typically involve income and other economic-based descriptions of home owners and renters as if these groups or people were distinct and fixed classes.

The Circle of Homeownership
These contrasts are misleading. The lifecycle of homeownership has important consequences when examining differences between home owners and renters. Using government data and taking several factors into consideration – age, marital status, income, children, space requirements and structure – it becomes clear that most people will be renters and home owners during different stages of their lives.

First, home owners as a group are typically older than renters. Census data shows that the number of renters exceeds home owners for age groups younger than 35 but that the homeownership rate increases with age, rising from 59% for those in the 35-to-44 age bracket and equaling or exceeding 70% for those aged 45 to 84 years.


This makes sense given the typical pattern of an individual leaving school, renting in order to accumulate savings, and then purchasing a first home.

Since home owners as a group tend to be older, they also have higher incomes. The data reveal that the median household income of renters was $31,888 in 2012, compared to $65,514 for home owners. A considerable part of this income difference is due to age.

And because homeowners tend to be older, they are also more likely to be married. According to the Census data, 60% of home owners are married couples, compared to only 27% of renters.

Married couples are also more likely to have children present in the home, and therefore need more room and space. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Census data reveals that 84% of the nation’s single-family homes are comprised of home owners while multifamily housing tends to be renter dominated.

One-Size Policy Does Not Fit All
All of these factors produce the local and regional variations in homeownership across the nation. For example, urban dominated New York has the lowest homeownership rate among states at 54% (and the District of Columbia is lower still at 42%), while states with older populations in the Northeast and Midwest have higher homeownership rates.

These data highlight that policy debates should not frame renters and home owners as distinct classes. Support for the development of rental housing is an important social goal to maintain safe, affordable and decent housing for those for whom renting is the best choice. And preserving our nation’s commitment to homeownership is needed given the well-documented social and private benefits that homeownership produces for families and communities.

It would be a mistake to weaken policy support for either form of housing, as the result would be diminished housing policy overall.

View the full U.S. News & World Report story.

HBA Members Saved More than $7.2 Million Last Year

One of the perks of being a HBA member is an open door to exclusive discounts on a variety of products and services that can benefit your business, employees and family.

In the past year, members have saved more than $7.2 million through Member Advantage, which offers an easy way to reduce expenses, maximize profits and increase efficiency.

Major companies participating in the Member Advantage program include:
  • General Motors. Members can receive $500 off the purchase of most Buick, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles and business owners can receive up to $1,000 off select vehicles and may qualify for additional incentives. Visit nahb.org/ma to learn more.
  • Dell. Members can save up to 30% off top of the line Dell computers. For more details, visit www.dell.com/nahb or call 1-800-695-8133 and mention NAHB.
  • Geico. Exclusive discounts on auto and home insurance for members can be yours by visiting www.geico.com/disc/nahb or calling 1-800-368-2734 and mentioning NAHB for a free quote.
  • UPS. UPS discounts of up to 36% are available to members on a broad portfolio of shipping services, including air letters and packages, ground shipments, international imports and exports. Savings begin at 70% on UPS freight shipments over 150 pounds. Visit http://www.1800members.com/NAHB or call 1-800-MEMBERS (1-800-636-2377) for more information.
Visit nahb.org/ma for the most up-to-date information about which companies are offering discounts as well as detailed information on how to access the savings