Monday, January 26, 2015

Rubio named national Custom Builder of the Year

L-R: Nick Rubio, Gus Rubio, Belinda Rubio, and Gabe Rubio
Gus Rubio, CGP, APB, founder of Gabriel Builders, has been honored as the NAHB Custom Home Builder of the Year.

Sponsored by Sherwin-Williams, the award was presented at a luncheon last week in Las Vegas as part of the events taking place at the NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS).

Rubio’s business philosophy of customer service before, during and after the sale sets his company apart from any other building company, the HBA said in its nomination form. Gabriel Builders has built homes for corporate chief executives and presidents, professional athletes, congressional representatives and architects.

The company works with clients to design and build homes with a free exchange of ideas as well as allowing optimum value engineering based on the expertise of the company’s professional staff.

Rubio was a member of the HBA of Greenville Board of Directors from 1988 to 1991, has served on the board for a second time since 2012, and has served as chairman of the membership committee since 2013. “Rubio and his team members give through their leadership and in-kind donations, not just to the HBA, but to our local community and the home building industry as well. I am sure there are many who are worthy of this award, but none more so than Gus Rubio and Gabriel Builders,” said Michael Dey, Executive Vice President of the Home Builders Association of Greenville.

FHFA House Price Index Up 0.8 Percent in November

U.S. house prices rose in November, up 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous month, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) monthly House Price Index (HPI). The previously reported 0.6 percent change in October was revised downward to a 0.4 percent change.

The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From November 2013 to November 2014, house prices were up 5.3 percent. The U.S. index is 4.5 percent below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the October 2005 index level.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from October 2014 to November 2014 ranged from -0.9 percent in the New England division to +1.8 percent in the East South Central division. The 12-month changes were all positive, ranging from +1.6 percent in the New England division to +7.5 percent in the Pacific division.

125,000 Attend 2015 IBS, Design & Construction Week

About 125,000 housing industry professionals packed the aisles at Design & Construction Week™ on Jan. 20-22 in Las Vegas. Now in its second year, the co-located mega-event included the NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS), the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, the International Window Coverings Expo, The International Surface Event and the Las Vegas Market.

Official attendance for IBS was 55,237, 8% higher than last year’s show. More than 1,200 exhibitors filled 478,000 square feet of space with everything from the latest in kitchen and bath design to millwork and marketing services. Overall, Design & Construction Week boasted 3,750 exhibitors and 4.7 million netsquare feet of exhibit space.

“This has been the best show we have experienced since the economic downturn,” said Jerry Konter, chair of the NAHB Convention and Meetings Committee. “You felt a great energy the moment you hit the show floor, as builders and exhibitors continue to benefit from the recovering economy.”

If “green is the new black” was the catchword five years ago, exhibitors, show-goers and presenters made the case that “smart” is the new green: Home builders crowded sessions discussing the best apps for model home sales centers and tracking customers from first visit to purchase – and beyond.

Designers have gone beyond installing “drop-zones” to plug in smart phones, tablets and laptops in the mudroom. In the Concept Kitchen, a display in the Central Concourse, design-build specialist Jonas Carnemark installed plugs under the built-in kitchen table, so family members can charge their devices while they surf the web.

On the show floor, exhibitors fielded questions about technologies that didn’t exist five years ago, including smart-phone controlled home automation systems for security, lighting and entertainment that have only been available for high-end custom homes and with big price tags.

“We want to provide home automation for the mass market so home builders can penetrate 90% of the market instead of the top 5%,” said Tom Few, vice president of business development for Vivint, a home solar and automation company and first-time exhibitor at IBS.

The big question for many attendees: Do you have a smart phone app? Rob Canfield of Rain Bird irrigation systems – another first-time exhibitor – said he got that a lot. Instead, he pointed to the individual weather stations that come with each automatic sprinkler systems. “If you set this right, there is no reason to play with it on your phone,” he said.

Attendees crowded the aisles for a show that almost overwhelmed Las Vegas taxis, hotels and restaurants in what city officials said was the biggest week they’d ever had in January.

“The exhibit halls were packed from end to end and the energy on the show floor was amazing,” said newly elected NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “Design & Construction Week was truly a unique one-stop shoppingextravaganza for all those involved in the residential construction industry, and this mega-event will be a great springboard for housing in the year ahead.”

Friday, January 23, 2015

NAHB Members Elect 2015 Leadership Team

Tom Woods
Members of NAHB elected four Senior Officers to top leadership positions within the federation during the association’s International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

With more than 800 affiliated state and local home builders associations and more than 140,000 members across the country, NAHB represents the interests of the nation’s housing professionals through advocacy, education and research.

Taking the helm as NAHB’s Chairman of the Board this year is Tom Woods, a Missouri builder with more than 40 years of experience in the housing industry. Woods is president of Woods Custom Homes. He has developed scores of communities and more than 1,000 homes in the Greater Kansas City area.

“To keep housing and the economy on an upward trajectory, this year NAHB will urge the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress to work together in a bipartisan spirit to advance comprehensive housing finance reform and immigration reform, along with other policies that promote homeownership, rental housing opportunities and job growth,” said Woods.

Also moving up on the association’s leadership ladder during NAHB’s Las Vegas board meeting was Ed Brady, a Bloomington, Ill.-based home builder. He was elected as the 2015 First Vice Chairman of the Board. Brady is president of Brady Homes, a company founded in 1962 by his father, William Brady Sr. One of the largest home building firms in central Illinois, Brady Homes has developed 20 residential communities throughout the state, building more than 1,800 single-family homes, 2,000 apartment units and more than 100,000 square feet of light commercial property.

Granger MacDonald, a Kerrville, Texas-based builder and developer with 40 years of experience in the home building industry, was elected as Second Vice Chairman of the Board. MacDonald is president of the MacDonald Companies, a diverse development, construction, and management enterprise with more than 35 neighborhoods completed throughout Texas.

Randy Noel joined the NAHB leadership ladder with his election as Third Vice Chairman of the Board. A Louisiana-based custom home builder with more than 30 years of experience in the home building industry, Noel is president of Reve Inc., a custom home building firm that has developed more than 1,000 custom homes in the greater New Orleans area.

2014 NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, from Wilmington, Del., remains on the leadership ladder as Immediate Past Chairman. Kelly is president of Leon N. Weiner & Associates, Inc. and is a successful builder and developer with several decades of experience in land development, multifamily and single-family home building, and property management.

Rounding out the association’s leadership is NAHB Chief Executive Officer Jerry Howard, from Washington, D.C. Howard heads up a professional staff of more than 230 working out of the National Housing Center in Washington. He has served as the association’s CEO/EVP since February of 2001. Previously, Howard was NAHB’s chief tax counsel.

Susan Peace-Vernon Elected President

2015 Board of Directors Announced
Susan Peace-Vernon

Susan Peace-Vernon, Approved Professional Builder, has been elected President of the Home Builders Association of Greenville in 2015. Vernon is Vice President of Dillard-Jones Builders, a custom home building and development company based in Greenville.

Vernon is a professionally-trained interior designer who hails from a family of home builders. She manages Dillard-Jones relationship with its finish vendor partners and the company’s relationship with its customers.

Elected to serve on the 2015 Board of Directors of the Home Builders Association are:
  • President, Susan Peace-Vernon, Approved Professional Builder, Dillard-Jones Builders 
  • President Elect, Joe Hoover, Approved Professional Builder, Hoover Custom Construction 
  • Associate Vice President, Jon Statom, Palmetto Exterminators 
  • Secretary, Scott Warren, Approved Professional Builder, Dunn Custom Builders 
  • Treasurer, Chuck Childress, BB&T
  • Immediate Past President, Mike Freeman, GMB, Approved Professional Builder, ACA/Freewood Contracting
  • Director, Wayne Moore, Approved Professional Builder, Harold Moore Builder
  • Director, Gus Rubio, Approved Professional Builder, Gabriel Builders
  • Director, Scott Presley, Greer State Bank
  • Director, James Speer, Approved Professional Builder, Carson-Speer Builders
  • Director, Bob Barreto, GBS Building Supply
Established in 1960, the membership of the Home Builders Association of Greenville includes local and national builders, remodelers, commercial contractors, land developers, specialty contractors, manufacturers, financial and insurance professionals, realtors, and many others who offer products and services for homeowners and homebuyers. The voice of home building, the Home Builders Association offers education and training, marketing and recognition programs and special events for members and consumers including the Southern Home & Garden Show and Parade of Homes. In addition, the Home Builders Association of Greenville educates consumers about professional home builders and remodelers through the Approved Professional Builder and Remodeler program. The Home Builders Association gives back by encouraging and supporting community service efforts by its members and serving as an advocate for the home building industry.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ways to push back on cluster mailbox units

Many residential developers are none too happy about the increased emphasis on cluster mailboxes to replace curbside delivery in new communities.

Last Spring your HBA met with postal officials and local government planners and engineers about the new mandate from the U.S. Postal Service requiring Cluster Mailbox Units in new subdivisions.  To read our previous article about CBUs, click here.

The good news is it is not always a given that traditional service must be replaced. If you want to maintain the practice of curbside service for your new home buyers, the National Association of Home Builders offers developers some tips for success.

It iss helpful to know why the sudden push: When the Internet and other competing, less expensive delivery services started eating into the revenue of the U.S. Postal Service at the beginning of this century, the feds began to look at ways to stem the tide.

Cluster mailboxes were already being used successfully in many town home communities, replacing the door-to-door delivery that had been the norm for more than 100 years. Developers were usually able to stop local postal officials from switching it up for single-family homes – until the rules changed in 2012.

That is when the Postal Service revised the Postal Operations Manual – the bible of post office management – to make cluster mailboxes the default for new residential development. It includes infill development in areas where older homes still get curbside, or even door-to-door, mail delivery.

Anything else requires local postmaster approval, and that is just one more reason to build and maintain good relationships with local officials, like your Home Builders Association has done, including the ones charged with delivering your buyers’ mail.

Ask about security. Just because a development has a common area does not mean that it is well lit or secure. Curbside delivery can reduce risk to residents.

Ensure accessibility. Postal Service rules require that any cluster mailbox installation must not require residents to walk more than one block to get their mail, but even a short walk can be too much for an elderly home owner or one with a disability. Again, curbside service reduces this worry.

What about bad weather? Retrieving mail can be dangerous or downright impossible when snow or ice impedes access to a cluster mailbox.

Who is in charge? While some planned communities include home owners associations charged with collecting dues to maintain common areas, that is not true of many new residential developments. Who will maintain the cluster mailboxes and keep them secure without such a group in place?

According to NAHB, in some cases Postal Service officials may conclude that cluster mailboxes are not worth the savings. Pointing out these issues may help them along.  But keep in mind that local ordinances are being developed to require CBUs, so you will need a waiver in writing to use individual mailboxes at each home.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

REMINDER (Builders): Property Tax Relief Deadline is Near

As the result of legislation supported by your Home Builders Association, Home Builders are eligible for property tax relief on homes they have completed but are not yet sold or occupied. The relief is available for up to five years, but is lost once the home is occupied (for example, if the home is rented) or sold.

January 31, 2015 is a VERY IMPORTANT date. The property tax exemption deadline for recertifying unoccupied homes that got property tax relief in 2014, and for certifying any newly constructed homes, or older homes that have not been enrolled in the program for the 2015 property tax year, is January 31. Those who fail to certify or recertify with their county assessor by January 31 will have no recourse and there will be no exceptions and no tax relief. If you think you might be eligible, contact your county assessor. When in doubt, call your assessor. There are significant savings to be had by participating in this property tax relief program.

Relief also is available for the part of the year in which the home is completed. However, you must apply for relief within 30 days of receiving a certificate of occupancy.

DETAILS OF LAW:

  1. Effective date: July 1, 2009
  2. Homes Covered by Law: Newly constructed unoccupied detached single-family homes built in 2007 or later.
  3. Extent of Tax Relief: Provides property tax relief only for real estate improvement (new home), but builder/developer still pays property tax on the unimproved land.
  4. First Eligible Tax Year: 2009 property tax year. No refunds are available for the 2007 and 2008 tax years. Exemption application must have been made by September 30, 2009, to be eligible for relief in the 2009 tax year.
  5. Duration of Eligibility: Until the house is sold, occupied, or it has reached the property tax year ending the sixth December 31(five years) from the date a Certificate of Occupancy (CO), if required, was issued, whichever comes first.
  6. Recertification: After the initial application, the builder will be required to re-certify homes with Certificate of Occupancy (CO) annually by January 31 every eligible year that the house remains unoccupied.
  7. Homes with No CO: Homes without a certificate of occupancy (if required) are not habitable, therefore they can’t be occupied. This means that they can’t be added to the tax rolls until both the CO is issued (if required) and the house is occupied (Administrative Law Court decision).
  8. Change in Occupancy: Builders are required to notify the assessor if the house is rented or is occupied by the builder. The house permanently loses its tax exemption with the notification. If the house is sold, the assessor will pick up the change in tax status when property deed is recorded.
  9. Legal Reference: Section 12-37-220(B) of state code of law. Bill – H. 3018, Ratification- R88, Act- 76
  10. Obtaining Exemption: Homes Receiving CO in 2009 or later, notify assessor within 30 days of receiving a CO, or by January 31, that the house is unoccupied. 
If house sale is not pending, it would seem prudent to file the exemption form when the CO is issued just to be safe. Each county has a form to claim the exemption. However, the form may vary slightly from county to county. To protect your legal rights, the application must be notarized.

Below is contact information for the County Assessors in the Upstate:
For more information or for questions, please contact Michael Dey at 864-254-0133 or mdey@hbaofgreenville.com.