Thursday, December 1, 2011

Clemson's Bruce Yandle: "no meaningful recovery in state unemployment until construction revives"

In his monthly economic digest, Clemson University Economist Bruce Yandle analyzes unemployment statistics for South Carolina and the nation.  His analysis points to the fall off of employment in the state since 2008 of 78,000 jobs, resulting in a statewide unemployment rate of 10.5 percent.  He also analyzes unemployment in the construction sector, where employment fell 50,000 jobs from the peak.

"As can be seen, there is no recovery in that sector (construction). We can also see a net loss of 50,000 jobs from peak to present. Put another way, 50,000 of the 78,000 jobs lost in the state since the onset of the 2008-09 recession can be accounted for by construction losses. This suggests there will be no meaningful recovery in state employment until construction revives. The growth needed from other sectors to offset construction are just too large."

You can read Yandle's December 2011 Digest at by clicking here.

National Flood Insurance Program extended until Dec. 16

Congress reauthorized the National Flood Insurance Program until December 16.  The extension was part of the same legislation that reauthorized the higher loan limits for FHA-backed mortgages.

NAHB is currently working with the National Association of Realtors and others to lobby Congress to reauthorize the flood insurance program for five years.

NLRB poster on collective bargaining must be posted by January 31

Beginning on Jan. 31, 2012, all employers with more than $500,000 in annual gross business volume -- including home builders and remodelers -- will be required to post an official notice advising employees of their collective bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The law applies to all companies that meet the gross business volume threshold, including those who have non-union shops or whose business is located in a right-to-work state. According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the notice must be 11 inches by 17 inches and displayed in a conspicuous location where other workplace notices are regularly posted. Companies can download instructions and notification posters, available in more than 20 languages, free of charge from the NLRB website. A company that does not display the required poster as of Jan. 31, 2012 may be subject to an unfair labor practices complaint.

NAHB: FHA conforming loan limits restored for two years

In an important victory for NAHB, the housing industry, and consumers, Congress voted to reinstate for another two years the higher conforming loan limits for the Federal Housing Administration that expired on Sept. 30. President Obama signed the measure into law on Nov. 18.

NAHB has led the industry charge to restore the higher loan limits, which is essential to help mend the struggling housing market, stabilize home values, provide constancy while private investors re-enter the market and ensure that millions of creditworthy home borrowers can access the best possible mortgage rates.

In the days and weeks leading up to the vote, NAHB launched a major grassroots push, urging our members to call, email and meet with their lawmakers on this issue. Your HBA of Greenville supported these efforts by holding meetings with Congressman Trey Gowdy and Jeff Duncan.

Greenville, Pickens, and Laurens counties were particularly impacted by the reduction in the conforming loan limits.  In those counties the limits were reduced by nearly $25,000, while the limits remained the same in the rest of the Upstate.  With this victory, the original loan limits have been restored.

Meals On Wheels: a community service opportunity

Did you know that the HBA of Greenville has been a partner with Meals on Wheels since 1971? The HBA's relationship with Meals on Wheels was started by the HBA's Womens' Auxiliary, a group organized primarily by the wives of the Home Builders at that time. Since 1971 the HBA has supported Meals on Wheels with contributions and by sponsoring one and sometimes multiple routes.

Today the HBA continues to sponsor a route each Tuesday. Think you may want to help out? Our volunteers generally take the route about once every four to six weeks. It takes about two to three hours to pick up the meals at the Meals on Wheels office and distribute them to about 10 grateful recipients. If you are new to Meals on Wheels, you will need to participate in a short orientation session.

If you are willing to help the HBA with the Meals on Wheels route, please contact Michelle Kish at the HBA Office by calling 864-254-0133 or emailing

President's Holiday Reception set for December 13

The annual President's Holiday Reception is just around the corner:
  • President's Holiday Reception
  • Tuesday, December 13
  • 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.
  • Home of Eric and Teresa Hedrick, 102 Cape Charles Drive, Greenville
  • No charge to participate compliments of our Presenting Partner, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Host Partner, Cornerstone Contractors
Parking is available at the HBA Office, 5 Creekside Park Court, Greenville,  A shuttle will run regularly from the HBA Office to the site of the party.

The President's Holiday Reception is the annual holiday party for HBA of Greenville members to gather, celebrate the spirit of the holidays, and wish joy and cheer to one another before taking a break to spend time with our families.

The President's Holiday Reception also will be an opportunity for HBA members to celebrate a successful year with President Wayne Moore.

President Wayne Moore, along with our Presenting Partner, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Host Partner, Cornerstone Contractors, invite HBA members to celebrate the season at the President's Holiday Reception.

To RSVP for the President's Holiday Reception, click here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Builder: "New Home Sales Suggest Climb Gaining Steam" in Greenville

A recent report by Builder magazine show that sales of new homes increased year-over-year in August, as well as for July.  The improvement suggests that "the market may be gaining momentum" in the Greenville-Mauldin-Easley MSA.

New home sales rose 41.6 percent in August, to 109, compared to 2011, and rose 32.3 percent in July, compared to the same month last year.  For the 12 months ending in August 2011, 949 new homes were sold, up from an annualized 917 in July.  However, out of all housing sales, new home sales made up just 14.5 percent of sales, although that is a rise from 11 percent in August 2010.

FHFA: Maximum Conforming Loan Limits to Remain Unchanged in 2012

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced last week that the maximum conforming loan limits for loans originated by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will remain unchanged in 2012.  The current conforming loan limit for all counties in South Carolina is $417,000 for a single-family home, and $533,850 for a two-family home.

You can read the entire release at by clicking here.

You can see the conforming loan limits for the entire country at by clicking here.

Higher loan limits that were established for certain high cost counties, that were enacted in 2008, expired in September of this year.  The loan higher loan limits for Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loans were recently restored by Congress.  Greenville, Pickens, and Laurens counties were impacted by the lowered FHA loan limits.  However, no South Carolina counties were impacted by the lowering of loan limits for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

FHFA: U.S. House Prices Rise 0.2 Percent in Third Quarter 2011

U.S. house prices rose in the third quarter of 2011 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index (HPI). The HPI, calculated using home sales price information from Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-acquired mortgages, was 0.2 percent higher on a seasonally adjusted basis in the third quarter than in the second quarter. On an unadjusted basis, prices rose 0.7 percent during the quarter. Over the past year, seasonally adjusted home prices fell 3.7 percent from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011.

FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for September was up 0.9 percent from its August value. On a not-seasonally adjusted basis, prices were up 0.7 percent during the August to September period. Every census division but the East South Central division showed increases over the same period.

“In most regions of the country, third-quarter home values were relatively stable, even in some areas that experienced sharp price declines in preceding quarters,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “While most housing markets still face stiff headwinds, the fact that some beleaguered states—such as Idaho, Florida and Utah—saw quarterly price increases is a positive development.”

While the national, purchase-only house price index fell 3.7 percent from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011, prices of other goods and services rose 4.8 percent over the same period. Accordingly, the inflation-adjusted price of homes fell approximately 8.1 percent over the latest year.

FHFA’s all-transactions house price index, which includes data from mortgages used for both home purchases and refinancings, increased 0.9 percent in the latest quarter but is down 4.3 percent over the four-quarter period.

Significant Findings:
  • The seasonally adjusted purchase-only HPI declined in the third quarter in 21 states and the District of Columbia
  • Of the nine census divisions, the West North Central division experienced the strongest price gains in the latest quarter, posting a 1.5 percent price increase. Prices were weakest in the Pacific census division, where prices fell 0.5 percent.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 25 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., four-quarter price declines were greatest in the Phoenix-Mesa- Glendale, AZ area. That area saw price declines of 10.6 percent between the third quarters of 2010 and 2011. Prices held up best in the Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI metropolitan division, where prices rose 4.0 percent over that period.

This quarter’s Highlights article has two sections. The first section compares recent price trends reported in the purchase-only HPI against price changes computed for the “expandeddata” HPI. The latter, which was described in detail in the 2011Q2 HPI release, is estimated using data from FHA-endorsed mortgages as well as licensed information from county recorder offices. Both indexes show a 0.2 percent price gain in the latest quarter.

The second section analyzes the impact of the recent boom in commodities prices on home values. States and counties with significant mining and oil extraction industries generally experienced more stable house prices than other areas.


FHFA’s purchase-only and all-transactions HPI track average house price changes in repeat sales or refinancings on the same single-family properties. The purchase-only index is based on more than 6 million repeat sales transactions, while the all-transactions index includes more than 43 million repeat transactions. Both indexes are based on data obtained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for mortgages originated over the past 36 years.

FHFA analyzes the combined mortgage records of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which form the nation’s largest database of conventional, conforming mortgage transactions. The conforming loan limit for mortgages purchased since the beginning of 2006 has been $417,000. Pursuant to the terms of various short-term congressional initiatives, loan limits for mortgages originated between July 1, 2007 and Sept. 30, 2011 were as high as $729,750 in certain high-cost areas in the contiguous United States. Mortgages originated after Sept. 30, 2011 are no longer subject to the terms of those initiatives and, under the formula established by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the highest loan limit for one-unit properties in the contiguous U.S. has fallen to $625,500.

Monday, November 28, 2011

New addition to HBASC lobbying team

HBASC has added to its lobbying team that includes Capital Consultants, a lobbying and public affairs firm based in Columbia and headed up by Richard Davis.

Davis announced today that former WIS-TV news anchor David Stanton has joined Capital Consultants.  Stanton has moderated presidential debates for CNN and NBC and recently moderated the Republican Presidential debate with Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News.  "He is very well regarded in the General Assembly," Davis said.  Stanton will participate in all phases of lobbying and government affairs and will assist clients in media training in the off season, Davis said.

In addition to his history as a journalist, Stanton is an attorney and a graduate of Clemson University, University of Georgia, and University of South Carolina School of Law.

A home "Made in America" exclusively with American-made products?

Home Builders, have you heard about this idea?  What if you built your homes exclusively with American-made products.  One builder in Montana is doing so, and he said it adds just one percent to the cost of the house.  Many others are now giving it a try.

Interested?  Click this link to watch a report on ABC News.

Magazine ranks South Carolina high in several categories

South Carolina did extremely well on the latest 2011 Rankings Report from Business Facilities magazine, placing in the top ten in four categories. According to the magazine, South Carolina ranked:
  • 3rd for Economic Growth Potential
  • 5th for Best Business Climate
  • 2nd in Automotive Manufacturing Strength
  • 8th for both workforce training and low cost of labor
Source: Business Facilities, July/August 2011.