Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FHFA House Price Index Rises 0.8 Percent in April; First Monthly Increase Since May 2010

U.S. house prices rose 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from March to April, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s monthly House Price Index. The previously reported 0.3 percent decrease in March was revised to a 0.4 percent decrease. For the 12 months ending in April, U.S. prices fell 5.7 percent. The U.S. index is 19.3 percent below its April 2007 peak and roughly the same as the January 2004 index level.

The FHFA monthly index is calculated using purchase prices of houses backing mortgages that have been sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. For the nine Census Divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from March to April ranged from -1.3 percent in the Mountain Division to +2.2 percent in the New England Division.

Monthly index values and appreciation rate estimates for recent periods are provided in the table and graphs on the following pages. Click here for complete historical data. FHFA has corrected some data in the quarterly HPI released May 25, 2011. The quarterly, fourquarter, and five-year price change estimates for Nebraska, Massachusetts, and Montana have been modified. The underlying index values for those states were correct, but the reported price changes were not accurate. The corrected numbers are now reflected in the tables and graphs in the revised news release and elsewhere on the FHFA website.

For detailed information concerning the monthly HPI, please see the HPI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). The next release will be on July 21, 2011 and will include monthly HPI data for May 2011. The next release of quarterly data will be Aug. 24, 2011 and will include data for the second quarter of 2011.

S.C. Housing Authority is in need of photos of homes with permission for their use

The South Carolina State Housing Authority is in search of photos of actual homes in South Carolina to use in their publications as a visual aide to their readers. The homes they assist in financing are in the $130,000-$200,000 range.

If you share your photos and the Authority uses them, you will get source credit under the photo in the publication. This is a great way to advertise to consumers for free and to help our friends and partners at the SC Housing Authority. Send your photo(s) to Clayton Ingram at

OSHA Safety Manual Scam Warning

The HBA of SC recently cautioned all members of that once again a company is sending out emails to builders stating that they must by law have a jobsite safety manual onsite. Of course that company wants you to buy a manual from them for $179.98--each.

According to the HBA of South Carolina and NAHB, the claim that you must by law have a jobsite safety manual on the jobsite is FALSE.

However, a jobsite safety manual is not a bad idea, and you can purchase a copy of one from the NAHB BuilderStore for $20 each.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Governor Haley Signs Point of Sale Bill

One of the last bills to pass the General Assembly this year was the “point of sale” bill (H. 3713). Last month Governor Haley signed the bill into law.

The point of sale legislation is applicable only to non-primary residential properties, which are assessed at a six percent (6 percent) property tax rate. This includes commercial properties, investment properties and second homes. It does not include manufacturing properties assessed at 10.5 percent. It was drafted similar to proposed legislation that was rejected last year.

Under the new law, commercial properties will receive a 25 percent exemption (discount) from the sales value (point of sale) for taxation purposes. The bill also provides for a minimum level of valuation established as the Fair Market Value by the county tax assessor, but does allow for lower valuations if the property sells below assessed value. After the initial setting of the value by the assessor at the point of sale, all properties will continue to be subject to each county’s reassessment program and will be subject to the 15 percent cap on tax increases for each five (5) year reassessment period going forward.

Governor Haley Signs Bill to Curb Metal Thefts

A bill (H. 3660) that would hopefully stop the scourge of copper and metal theft in the state received final approval in the Senate last week and was signed by the Governor on Thursday. Thieves and drug addicts in search of quick cash have been causing millions of dollars worth of damage ripping out copper from plumbing and air-conditioning units at homes and businesses.

The bill sets up a permit system for people who want to sell copper to recyclers. Individuals selling less than 10 pounds of the metal would be allowed to obtain a free, 48-hour permit up to twice a year by calling their local sheriff's office. Those wanting to sell more than 10 pounds of copper in excess of twice in a year would be required to apply in person at a sheriff's office for a free, long-term permit. The bill covers copper products, catalytic converters and stainless steel beer kegs to the list of permit-required items.

The bill would also require the metal recyclers to apply for a purchasing permit at their local sheriff's office at a cost of up to $200. Also, instead of giving out cash, recyclers would only be allowed to pay customers with checks for their copper and metal purchases.

Governor Haley signs law providing employer's with relief on unemployment insurance

Gov. Nikki Haley has signed into law enabling legislation to give employers some relief on the new and much higher taxes levied on employers since Jan. 30.

The law does the following:
  • Directs that the appropriations go toward state unemployment tax relief for businesses in tiers 2 through 20, which results in reductions up to 25% for 2011.
  • State unemployment tax reductions are retroactive to January.
  • Seasonal employees may be ineligible for unemployment benefits, resulting in a 3% reduction in state unemployment tax costs to businesses.
  • New companies come in at tier 12 for the first 12 months, which is a savings of approximately $200 per employee per year for new companies.
  • For 2011, companies on a payment plan will pay 0.25% penalty per month (previously set at 1% per month).
  • Companies that have a positive state unemployment tax balance will be in no class higher than class 12 for 2011 only.
  • Reduction of benefits for the newly unemployed to 20 weeks from 26 weeks, resulting in an 8% reduction in overall state unemployment tax costs to businesses.
Read the complete story at Columbia Regional Business Report by clicking here.

Richard Harris Quinn

Richard Harris Quinn of Greenville died Saturday, June 18, 2011.

He was the son of the late Ethel Harris and Kirby Jernigan Quinn. Mr. Quinn graduated from Greenville High School and the University of Georgia. After serving in the United States Air Force, he worked in both the furniture business and in real estate. He was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Quinn is survived by his wife, Kay Stribling Quinn; son and daughter-in-law, Richard Harris Quinn, Jr. (Rick) and Martha Wilson Quinn; daughter and son-in-law, Farell Quinn and James Johnston McGinness; six grandchildren, Taite Stribling Quinn, Harris Buchanan Quinn, Greer Cleveland Quinn, Emma Farell Quinn, James Johnston McGinness, Jr., Thomas Quinn McGinness; and sister and brother-in-law, Melinda Quinn Furman and Joseph Earle Furman. Mr. Quinn is predeceased by two brothers, Kirby Jernigan Quinn, Jr. and Charles Edward Quinn.

Memorial services will be held Wednesday, June 22nd at three o'clock at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Friends are invited to visit with the family following the service in the adjacent church atrium.

Memorials may be made to the Richard Campbell Veterans Nursing Home, 4605 Belton Highway, Anderson, SC 29621; ARK Hospice, 117 Broadbent Way, Anderson, SC 29625; Alzheimer's Association of Greenville, 301 University Ridge, Greenville, SC 29601; Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2310 Augusta Street, Greenville, SC 29605; or the charity of one's choice.

Arrangements by The Mackey Mortuary, 311 Century Drive, Greenville, SC 29607, 864-232-6706.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Association Maximization Part 4: "Social Capital"

Having the knowledge of the HBA's purpose and structure is very important. This knowledge will help you with the next steps to a successful HBA investment and that is social capital.

What is social capital? Described within social capital is "the network of social connections that exist between people, and their shared values and norms of behavior, which enable and encourage mutually advantageous social cooperation." Simply stated, social capital means developing and maintaining relationships that bring value. The HBA is a fantastic place to begin relationships that can be based on friendship, business or both. In order for you to have either or both there is one word that is the key to achieving your goal; trust. Trust is not something that is handed over immediately and has to be earned. Trust turns an acquaintance into a meaningful relationship. You're probably thinking "I know this already but how do I go about building trust?" It starts with your efforts at a general membership meeting and how you present yourself but is developed by working on key issues that the HBA and its active volunteers are working towards satisfactory outcomes. We discussed in the previous post the structure and purpose of committees and how those committees have different roads that bring us to the same place; a healthy building industry. It is here, at the committee level, that your relationship building begins.

Joining a committee, regardless of the initiatives of that particular committee, brings you into a working group. Within this working group you may be a volunteer but understand how you interact will decide how you develop relationships. Showing up on the day of the meeting and sitting there in that meeting place is one thing. People will now see you outside the general membership meeting but when you take an active role they will get to know you. The association business first, your business second mentality will demonstrate your level of passion for the HBA. Like minded associates and builders will see you as a person who is part of "the family" and not just someone who is there for a quick deal. The benefit of sharing your knowledge and skill set is twofold:
  1. You are building trust with other associates who will become comfortable with introducing you to others who can help you with your business at the appropriate time and....
  2. Demonstrate to builders that you care about their businesses by caring about the health and advancement of the building industry.
What you are doing, whether you know it or not, is auditioning. You are revealing to others just how professional you are and what type(s) of talent you possess. The best part is you are doing all of this as a volunteer. The thought is if you are this professional as a volunteer how much better could you be if you were getting compensated by handling business deals. It will take time, meaning patience, consistency and quality of participation, but your time spent as a volunteer will add to your overall return in your HBA investment.

There is a warning attached to all of this and I will share that warning with you through an actual quote from a builder member; “If you don’t 'handle' the builder with professionalism, all the time you've invested in the builders' association has been wasted." What does this mean? Everything you have done to develop that relationship will not be maintained if you can not perform your job when your time comes. The HBA can deliver to you all types of educational courses that can help you be a better professional but it takes desire to be a professional to truly advance. Know your potential customer's business and its needs and prepare. This is not just limited to builder business. You may be an associate that has a product or service that works with both builder and associate members businesses. It's the same thought process as the quote from the builder shouts out; you started as a professional, continue as a professional.

The committee level, which can be committee, council, task force or any working group, coupled with 24/7 professionalism, is the ideal place to develop and maintain your social capital.

I urge you to reread this post, and the previous three, whenever you can. The advice in these first four posts should hopefully reconfirm what you already know or help maximize your HBA experience. Regardless, like any book or audio recordings based on self improvement, you have to constantly replay the material in your mind and actually apply the material in real life situations. You can't exercise one day and to expect to be in great health forever.

We talked about the number one purpose of the HBA and that is advocacy. Next week's post will be about the benefits you receive from advocacy and what you can do to maximize your HBA involvement through advocacy efforts.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair
Director of Trade Association Relations, ProBuild