Thursday, January 12, 2012

Housing takes the national stage at rally in Columbia today

Newt Gingrich speaking at housing rally on State House steps
Housing took the national stage at the Homeownership Works Rally on the steps of the State House in Columbia today.  Featured speakers included former U.S. Speaker of the House and Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and former Congressman J.C. Watts (R-OK).

Speaker Gingrich "stole the show" by committing to protect the mortgage interest deduction and repeal Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and "Obamacare."  He also pledged to make tax exempt investments made by home builders and other businesses in equipment for their businesses.  Gingrich, Clyburn, and Watts all signed NAHB's housing petition. You can read and sign the housing petition at by clicking here.

Newt Gingrich signing the housing pledge.

Newt Gingrich greets a future Home Builder and voter.
Newt Gingrich leaves the rally with the national press in tow.
Update: NAHB's press release on the rally.

With the South Carolina GOP presidential primary just around the corner, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and its local affiliates joined with politicians, consumer advocates, the Urban League, the NAACP, Realtors, the local Chamber of Commerce and others to elevate housing issues in the current election cycle held a special Rally for Homeownership today at the statehouse in Columbia, S.C.

Headliners at the event included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), which demonstrates that support for homeownership extends across the political spectrum and is a true American ideal.

“At a time when homeownership is under attack, the rally will help draw public and media attention to the need to maintain homeownership as a national priority through federal policies that keep the mortgage interest deduction intact, ensure that affordable home mortgages and low downpayment options remain readily available, open the flow of credit to home buyers and small businesses and resolve the ongoing foreclosure crisis,” said NAHB Chairman-elect Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, Fla., who will also address rally participants.

South Carolina voters strongly support homeownership and oppose any efforts to undermine the mortgage interest deduction and to make it more difficult for qualified borrowers to obtain affordable home loans, according to a new statewide poll conducted on behalf of NAHB by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C.

“In South Carolina, the Mortgage Interest Deduction and the ability to have access to affordable home loans are major drivers of our economy,” said Loftis. “As state treasurer, I am committed to ensuring that our tax code continues to support homeownership.”

“Homeownership provides the foundation for peace of mind, financial security and jobs in our community,” added Rep. Clyburn. “We cannot let the American Dream die.”

Concerned citizens who believe that homeownership must remain an important national policy are encouraged to turn out and take part in a petition drive that asks them to signify their support for keeping the mortgage interest deduction intact, increasing access to credit and mitigating the flow of foreclosures.

“Homeownership builds strong communities and home building creates jobs and provides a tax base that supports our local schools, police and firefighters,” said David Gully, president of the Home Builders Association of South Carolina. “We are here today to send a loud and clear message on the importance that South Carolina voters place on homeownership and to call on federal policymakers to refrain from taking steps that would weaken or eliminate our nation’s long-standing commitment to homeownership.”

The Rally for Homeownership in Columbia was sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders, the Home Builders Association of South Carolina and the Greater Columbia Home Builders Association; and co-sponsored by Central Carolina Realtors Association, Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, Manufactured Housing Institute of South Carolina, Mortgage Lenders Association of Greater Columbia, Municipal Association of South Carolina, Small Business Chamber of Columbia, South Carolina Realtors and the South Carolina State Housing Finance & Development Authority.

Dillard-Jones Builders Announces 2012 Southern Living Showcase Home

Dillard-Jones Builders has announced its 2012 Southern Living Showcase Home now under construction in The River Reserve Phase Four. Presented by River Reserve Holdings LLC and Builders First Source, the 2012 Showcase Home will open to the public for four weekends in May.

The 2012 Southern Living Showcase Home will be the fourth Southern Living tour home presented by Dillard-Jones Builders. The company’s 2008 Showcase Home in Tuscany Falls and the 2010 Showcase Home in Claremont won the Upstate homebuilder 2009 and 2011 Southern Living Builder of the Year honors. The 2009 award marked the first time a South Carolina builder had won the prestigious national award, and in 2011 Dillard-Jones became the first two-time winner in the 18-year history of the Southern Living Custom Builder Program. The company has a full-page Builder of the Year feature in the Dec. 2011 issue of Southern Living magazine, which is now on newsstands.

A Dillard-Jones custom design, the 2012 Southern Living Showcase Home is a basement plan featuring approximately 5,000 heated square feet and more than 1,200 square feet of outdoor living space that takes advantage of the river front lot. House features include a wine cellar with tasting room, indoor/outdoor bar with seating, master suite with coffee bar, sleeping porch, grilling deck, and outdoor living area with fireplace. Click here to follow the progress.

NAHB Analysis Debunks Misleading Stereotype of the Large Suburban Home

A new research study from NAHB Economics finds there is considerably more to the story of the stereotypical large home in the suburbs than what appears in the misleading and misguided criticism often leveled against it.

The authors of the study, “The Geography of Home Size and Occupancy,” concede that there is an element of truth in the observation that owner-occupied homes are smaller in downtown areas and inner suburbs and larger in the outer suburbs.

But this characterization “overlooks how many people actually reside in these homes,” write NAHB economists Robert Dietz and Natalia Siniavskaia.

“That is, it is incorrect to claim that those larger homes mean more ‘housing space’ for people who live outside central cities,” they say, because those homes in outlying areas tend to be occupied by larger households.

Data from the biennial American Housing Survey for 2009 show that roughly three-fourths of the nation’s 76 million owner-occupied homes are located inside metropolitan areas.

Of the homes in metro areas, those in central cities account for a 22% share of the nation’s owned homes, or 17.2 million; those in urban or “inner” suburbs have a 36% share, or 27 mllion; and the homes in further out, less dense suburbs are 17% of the owned housing stock, or 13 million.

The remaining one-quarter of owner-occupied homes — or 18.9 million — are located outside metro areas.

Survey results also confirm, in part, the stereotype that owner-occupied homes grow in size as they push out from the central city to the suburbs and rural parts of metro areas.

Nationwide, the median square footage of an owner-occupied home is 1,800 square feet.

Homes in the central city are about 7% smaller on average, at 1,678 square feet.

The median size climbs to 1,800 square feet in urban suburbs and 1,900 square feet in the rural reaches of metro areas.

However, not only do homes grow in size when one moves away from the central city to suburbs, the NAHB economists say, “but households grow in size as well.”

The average number of people per home increases from 2.6 in central cities to 2.7 in urban and rural metro areas, the report finds.

“Furthermore, metropolitan families choosing larger houses outside of central cities are more likely to have school-age children,” the study says.

Families in the urban or rural suburbs of metro areas are likely to have more children than households in other areas.

Of the 26 million households nationwide with children under the age of 18, more than half reside in metropolitan suburbs — 39% in inner suburbs and 18% in rural suburbs. Only 22% of home owners with children live in the central cities.

Looking at the locations of homes as they are related to household size “challenges the stereotyped view of large homes in the suburbs," the study concludes.

Nationally, the median square footage per person in owner-occupied homes is 800 square feet, which is exactly the same size as for the urban and rural suburbs in metropolitan areas and areas outside metro areas.

Median square footage per person is somewhat smaller for central cities, but only by 4%.

Among other findings presented in the study:
  • A household with two persons is the most common household, accounting for 36%, or 27.6 million, of home owners. But its share of home owners is only 34% in central cities and urban suburbs. 
  • The combination of larger household types — of three, four or more persons — adds up to a 42% share of home owners, or 32 million. 
  • In metro areas, these larger households are much more commonly found outside of central cities. 
  • For example, four-person households account for almost 18% and 17% of home owners in urban and rural suburbs of metro areas, respectively, while their share in central cities is only 14%. 
  • Single-person households are more densely concentrated in central cities. They account for 22% of all home owners in the U.S., but their share in central city locations is close to 26%. 
  • In rural parts of metro areas, single-persons are less than 18% of home owners. 
  • In the Northeast, homes tend to be smaller and homes in the South tend to be larger than the national median. 
In the Northeast, homes in central city areas have a median of 667 square feet per person, 15% below the national median of 767 square feet. Central city homes in the South have a median of 850 square feet per person, which is 27% higher than the national median.

These regional differences are partly explained by the age of the housing stock. The median age of an owner-occupied home in the Northeast is 51 years, compared to 31 years in the South. Newer homes are larger on average.

Builder: Greenville New Home Sales Continue to Rise, but More Slowly

According to Builder magazine, new home sales continued to rise, but the pace of growth is slowing a bit.  According to Builder's data, new home sales grew 21.3 percent in October, compared to the same month in 2010.  That growth follows a 48.6 percent increase the month before.

New home sales made up 15.7 percent of all home sales in October, up 12.5 percent in October 2010.

You can review Builder's report for Greenville at by clicking here.

NAHB: NLRB right to unionize poster rule delayed until April 30

The National Labor Relations Board has agreed to postpone the effective implementation date of its employee collective bargaining rights poster requirement — which includes a right to unionize notice — to April 30, 2012, depending upon the outcome of several legal challenges.

The requirement was to go in effect on Jan. 31, 2012, but at least three lawsuits have been filed seeking to block the posting requirement — including one by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A federal court in Washington, D.C., has delayed its implementation until after hearing legal challenges to the new rule.

The collective bargaining rights poster is available free for download on the NLRB website. If the rule is implemented, the poster must be hung in a conspicuous place with other workplace rights notices.

The rule will apply to all employers with a gross annual business volume of $500,000 or more, whether or not the employer operates a non-union shop or conducts business in a “right to work” state.

The NLRB has indicated that it will not conduct inspections to determine if the poster is in place, but it may take action if an unfair labor practices complaint is filed. The NLRB states on its website that it expects such complaints to be resolved if the employer subsequently agrees to hang the poster, but the agency could take further action if the employer refuses to hang the poster.

For more information, please visit

National Poll highlights importance of homeownership

By an overwhelming margin, American voters strongly value homeownership and would oppose efforts to weaken or eliminate the mortgage interest deduction or diminish a federal role to help qualified home buyers obtain affordable 30-year mortgages, according to a new nationwide survey gauging likely voters’ attitudes towards homeownership and housing policy issues.

“The American electorate is sending a clear message that owning a home remains a cornerstone of the American Dream and preserving a federal commitment to homeownership is essential to maintain a thriving middle class and get housing and the economy back on track,” said Neil Newhouse, a partner and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies.

Conducted on Jan. 2-5 on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders by the Republican and Democratic polling firms of Public Opinion Strategies in Alexandria, Va., and Lake Research Partners in Washington, D.C., the comprehensive survey of 1,500 likely voters includes data from key political “swing areas,” including National Journal political analyst Charlie Cook’s swing House and Senate seats and Stuart Rothenberg’s presidential swing states. The survey, which has a margin of error of ±2.5 percent, is a follow-up to a similar national poll conducted last May.

The poll shows that three out of four voters – both owners and renters -- believe it is appropriate and reasonable for the federal government to provide tax incentives to promote homeownership. This sentiment cuts across regional and party lines, with 84 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Independents agreeing with this statement.

Also, two-thirds of respondents say that the federal government should help home buyers to afford a long-term or 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage.

Moreover, 73 percent of voters oppose eliminating the mortgage interest deduction. These figures held firm across the political spectrum, with 77 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Independents against doing away with the mortgage interest deduction.

Meanwhile, 68 percent would be less likely to vote for a congressional candidate who proposed to abolish the deduction, a figure that was virtually identical across all party affiliations (69 percent of Independents and 68 percent of Democrats and Republicans).

A majority of voters are also against proposals to reduce the mortgage interest deduction, eliminate the deduction for interest paid for a second home, limit the deduction for those earning more than $250,000 per year, scale back the deduction for home owners with mortgages above $500,000 and do away with the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans.

“With the 2012 election season in full swing, candidates running for the White House and Congress would be wise to heed the will of the American voters, who have expressed broad support for government policies that encourage homeownership and oppose efforts to make it more difficult to get a home loan and to tamper with the mortgage interest deduction,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners.

Among the poll’s other key findings:
  • 96 percent of home owners are happy with their decision to own and 84 percent who are “underwater,” or owe more on their mortgages than their home is worth, expressed the same sentiment. 
  • 79 percent of home owners would advise a family member or close friend just starting out to buy a home, and 69 percent of those who are underwater on their mortgage would offer the same advice. 
  • 74 percent said that despite the ups and downs in the housing market, owning a home is the best long-term investment they can make. 
  • Homeownership and a retirement savings program are considered by voters to be their best long-term investments. 
  • 78 percent of respondents said that owning their own home is very important to them. 
  • Nearly seven out of 10 voters who are not currently home owners (68 percent) said it was a goal of theirs to buy a home. 
  • Job uncertainty and saving for a downpayment and closing costs are the biggest barriers to buying a home. 
The survey findings are consistent with the results of other public opinion surveys. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in June, 89 percent said that homeownership is an important part of the American Dream and more than 90 percent indicated that it is important for the federal government to continue the mortgage interest deduction.

According to a Pew Research Study conducted last March, 81 percent of respondents agree that buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make and 81 percent of renters surveyed said they would like to buy a house.

“Even in a down housing market, homeownership remains a core American value, with the vast majority of citizens who do not currently own a home saying they want to buy a home,” said Bob Nielsen, president of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder from Reno, Nev. “Those running for office in November need to understand that voters will not look kindly on any candidates who seek to dismantle the nation’s long-term commitment to homeownership.”

Poll results can be downloaded at

Realtytrac: Foreclosures down 20 percent in Greenville

According to Realtytrac, foreclosures fell in Greenville by 20 percent in 2011 compared with 2010.  For the state, foreclosures were down 9 percent.  Nationally, foreclosures fell 34 percent.

Realtytrac is a national real estate firm that specializes in data analysis on real estate transactions, including foreclsoures.

View statewide foreclosure activity in South Carolina at by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

South Carolina ranked third as a leading destination to relocate

According to a report by Allied Van Lines, South Carolina is ranked third in the nation in net relocation gain.  The state followed Texas and Florida in the study.

According to the report, South Carolina had a net gain of 489 families in 2011.

Read the full report at by clicking here.

GSA Business: South Carolina Home Prices Up 2.8 Percent, Second Highest in Nation

According to GSA Business, home prices rose in South Carolina in 2011 at the second highest rate in the nation.  Including distressed sales, home prices rose 2.8 percent.  Excluding distressed sales, home prices rose 4.9 percent.

Read the entire report at by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Heirloom Stair and Iron Selected For City of Greenville Brown Street Project

CAMPOBELLO, SC – The City of Greenville has selected Heirloom Stair & Iron for the design and fabrication of an archway structure for the Brown Street District in downtown Greenville. Installation of the structure, entitled ‘The Fabric of Hope’, will begin this week.

The archway will feature four distinct elements that capture the history and future of Greenville: the pedestals, the stanchions, the frame, and the banner. The pedestals, banner, and the core of the stanchions will be hand-forged steel. The brick-like texture on the stanchions will be a faux texture finish.

The structure’s smokestack stanchions were inspired by the textile mills of Greenville’s past, in particular the twin spires that stood watch over F.W. Poe Manufacturing for many decades. The archway’s pedestals will depict panels of woven metal that is reminiscent of a healthy textile industry that started Greenville’s economic engine and symbolic of the strong fabric of a community that continues to grow with a diversified economy.

The archway’s Art Nouveau style frame features ribbons of hope rising and waving from the stanchions, like the smoke that once billowed from the smokestacks they depict. The archway’s banner that announces the entrance to Brown Street was inspired by the sandstone sign that adorned the old Textile Hall on West Washington Street in downtown Greenville.

Heirloom Stair and Iron is a second-generation stair and iron manufacturer dedicated to creating fine, furniture-quality staircases and ironwork that will endure for a lifetime. Established in 1994, the Campobello-based company has won numerous international awards for outstanding craftsmanship from the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA). For more information, call (864) 468-4940 or visit

NAHB: Federal Legislative Priorities for 2012

You are a member of your Home Builders Association.  Do you wonder what your association is doing for you in the Federal arena.  2012 is a critical year on the government scene for home builders.  Your National Association of Home Builders has published is priorities for the year and they are listed and detailed below.

  1. End the Housing Production Credit Crisis
  2. Resolve the Faulty Appraisal Process
  3. Protect the Mortgage Interest Deduction
  4. Maintain Federal Support for Housing Finance System
  5. Preserve Affordable Downpayments and Mortgages
  6. Recognize Housing’s Important Role to the Economy
  7. Defend the Low Income Housing Tax Credit  
Read details about each issue below.

1. End the Housing Production Credit Crisis

It is absolutely vital to get credit flowing to the housing sector again. In the current regulatory climate, lenders have basically stopped making acquisition, development and construction (AD&C) loans that are necessary to allow builders to construct new homes. Credit is the lifeblood of housing. Home builders cannot keep their doors open and create jobs in their communities if they cannot get credit to build even pre-sold homes. And when lenders call in performing loans, everyone suffers. Workers get laid off, sound projects go uncompleted and banks take possession of unfinished property.

Federal bank regulators maintain that they are not encouraging institutions to stop making loans or to indiscriminately liquidate outstanding loans. However, NAHB members who are dealing with banks all across the country suggest that bank examiners in the field are adopting a significantly more aggressive stance on AD&C loans out of fear of the regulators coming into the banks and targeting them.

With inventories of new homes nearly depleted in many markets, builders should be gearing up to meet demand, create new jobs and keep the economic expansion moving forward. The only thing holding builders back in these locations are traditional lenders, who still aren’t providing the credit needed to renew the production process.

NAHB is urging Congress to support legislation introduced on May 5 by Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and Brad Miller (D-Calif.) that would help restore the flow of credit to the housing sector. H.R. 1755, the Home Construction Lending Regulatory Improvement Act of 2011, offers a legislative solution aimed at ending the freeze in housing production credit that has forced countless home building firms across the nation to shutter their doors, resulting in grave repercussions for job growth and the overall economy.

For more information, see the text of the legislation or read NAHB’s press release.

2. Resolve the Faulty Appraisal Process

Appraisals remain a major problem for the housing industry. The process has gone seriously wrong because some appraisers are using distressed properties – many of which have been neglected and are in poor physical condition – as comparables in assessing the value of brand new homes without accounting for major differences in condition and quality. Without such adjustments, the two are not comparable. Appraisers don’t typically enter these fixer-up homes; if they did, they would likely recognize the substantial differences between a foreclosure that lacks working appliances and a new home fitted with state-of-the-art appliances.

Too often, due to faulty appraisal practices, the builder’s house winds up getting appraised at less than the cost of construction. This is not only unfair and unreasonable, but it perpetuates the cycle of declining home values, drives more home owners underwater, negatively affects housing demand and acts as an obstacle to the recovery of the housing market. Major reforms in appraisal practices and oversight are needed to ensure that appraisals accurately reflect true market values and don’t contribute to price volatility.

For more information on the appraisal issue, see the Nov. 7 special edition of Nation's Building News.

3. Protect the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Americans overwhelmingly oppose any action by Congress to tamper with the mortgage interest deduction, but it could be eliminated or scaled back as federal lawmakers and the Administration are looking at tax increases in light of deficit concerns.

The consequences would be devastating for home owners, the housing market and the nation’s economy. Any attempts to tamper with the mortgage interest deduction would raise taxes on millions of home buyers and home owners and further depress home values, leaving more home owners with mortgages larger than the value of their property (“underwater”) and fueling even more foreclosures.

This cornerstone of American housing policy has been in place since the inception of the tax code nearly 100 years ago and supports the aspirations of families at all income levels to become home buyers. Nearly 37 million home owners directly benefit from the mortgage interest deduction and 70 percent of the benefit goes to middle-class home owners who make less than $200,000.

Many in Congress agree that tampering with the mortgage interest deduction would harm consumers and the economy. House resolution H. Res. 25 expresses a "sense of Congress that the current federal income tax deduction for interest paid on debt secured by a first or second home should not be further restricted.” The resolution, which has more than 180 cosponsors, shows that lawmakers are aware of the critical role that the MID plays in supporting homeownership in this country. NAHB is encouraging supporters to call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and urge their representatives to co-sponsor H. Res. 25.

To educate the public on the importance of preserving the mortgage interest deduction as a cornerstone of American housing policy, NAHB has created a consumer-oriented website, The website contains fact sheets, frequently asked questions, statistics, and other important information to allow consumers to stay informed as debate on the mortgage interest deduction moves forward.

Most importantly, tells visitors how to remain engaged and make sure their opinions are heard on this important issue by connecting through NAHB’s Facebook and Twitter mortgage interest deduction communities and Eye on Housing blog.

4. Maintain Federal Support for Housing Finance System

Some members of Congress are actively pushing to abolish Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and end the federal backstop for housing. Absent a federal role to help reassure mortgage market investors, the 30-year, fixed rate mortgage, the major housing finance tool for most Americans, would become increasingly scarce and much more costly, pricing many creditworthy borrowers out of the marketplace. Similarly, the availability of financing for multifamily housing would fall woefully short of the growing need.

In the wake of the financial crisis, the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have become the primary sources of financing for residential housing.

Even with the current high level of federal support, fewer mortgage products are available now than in the past, and these loans are being underwritten on much more stringent terms. As the private market assumes a greater role in the mortgage marketplace, maintaining an appropriate level of government support is essential to preserve financial stability, promote investor confidence and ensure liquidity and stability for homeownership and rental housing.

Complicating the situation, the federal government is looking to trim back the Federal Housing Administration’s participation in the market, which would further limit the availability of low downpayment mortgages.

Reps. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) on July 7 introduced H.R. 2413, the Secondary Market Facility for Residential Mortgages Act of 2011. The bill would stabilize housing and ensure liquidity in the mortgage market by maintaining a federal role in the U.S. housing finance system.
Similar bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1859) introduced this spring by Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) would replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with five private companies that would issue mortgage-backed securities and have government backing.
NAHB has presented lawmakers with a detailed proposal on restructuring the housing finance system to provide a consistent supply of mortgage liquidity and retain a federal backstop while limiting taxpayer exposure. Actively involved in this issue, the association continues to encourage all congressional efforts that seek an appropriate federal role to ensure a reliable and adequate flow of affordable housing credit.
Meanwhile, in an important victory for consumers, President Obama on Nov. 18 signed into law legislation passed by Congress to restore higher loan limits through 2013 for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Restoring the higher FHA loan limits will help to stabilize home values, provide constancy while private investors re-enter the market and enable millions of creditworthy consumers to get home loans with the best mortgage rates and lowest fees and downpayment requirements.

For more information, click on the links below:
5. Preserve Affordable Downpayments and Mortgages

Six federal agencies are proposing a national Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) standard that would require a minimum 20 percent downpayment, which would keep homeownership out of reach of most first-time home buyers and middle-class households.

In addition, the QRM plan includes several other bad ideas that would seriously impact the average family’s ability to affordably obtain a home of their own. It would mandate restrictive debt-to-income ratios to qualify for a home loan and prevent 25 million current home owners from refinancing to lower mortgage rates because they lack the required 25 percent equity in their homes.

High downpayment and equity rules along with excessive underwriting requirements will not have a meaningful impact on default rates but it will tighten lending rules to the point where millions of creditworthy home buyers won’t be able to qualify for a mortgage. Responsible consumers who maintain good credit and seek safe loan products will be forced into more expensive mortgages under the terms of the proposed rule simply because they do not have 20 percent or more in downpayment or equity. In other words, the proposal unfortunately penalizes qualified, low-risk borrowers.

About 62 percent of first mortgages taken out to purchase a home last year would not have qualified under the proposed QRM standard because they had downpayments of less than 20 percent, according to LPS Applied Analytics, a mortgage data firm.

NAHB estimates that it would take 12 years for a typical family to save enough money for a 20 percent downpayment on a median-priced single-family home and other research has found it would take even longer. Borrowers unable to make a 20 percentdownpayment or to obtain FHA financing would be expected to pay a premium of up to two percentage points for a loan in the private market to offset the increased risk to lenders, according to NAHB economists. This would annually disqualify about 5 million potential home buyers, resulting in 250,000 fewer home purchases each year.

If buyers are denied access to affordable housing credit, the shadow inventory of foreclosed homes will not be drawn down, a housing recovery will not take hold and economic growth will stall.

Low-downpayment home loans have been originated safely for decades and did not cause the housing lending crisis. Subprime, no-documentation loans and other alternative mortgage products crashed the economy. The Administration and regulators must acknowledge this fact and offer a new plan that ensures a safe and healthy mortgage market and keeps homeownership affordable for working American families.

For more information on this topic, click on the links below:
6. Recognize Housing’s Important Role to the Economy
As policymakers begin debate on housing finance and budget issues that will impact job creation and future growth, they must understand the important role that housing plays in the U.S. economy. Considering the enormity of the total number of jobs attached to housing, a sector that accounts for 15 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, now is hardly the time to step back from the nation’s long-standing commitment to homeownership.

Building 100 average single-family homes generates more than 300 jobs and nearly $9 million in taxes and revenue for state, local and federal governments. Perhaps more than any other consumer product, housing is “Made in America.” New homes and apartments don’t arrive in this country on container ships from Europe or Asia, and most of the products used in home construction and remodeling are manufactured here in the United States.

More than 1.4 million residential construction jobs have been lost since April 2006. The pace of recovery is debatable, but based purely on population growth and demographics, the U.S. will need to build 17 million additional homes over the next decade.

The gap between current production and potential housing production is more than 1 million homes. That represents more than 3 million untapped American jobs. This gap is a result of multiple factors, including deferred household formations, a lack of construction financing and flawed appraisal practices under which new homes get compared to distressed and foreclosed properties, thereby distorting true market values.

There can be no economic recovery without a housing recovery. The path forward is perfectly clear: Congress needs to take actions to restore the health of the housing industry to put America back to work.

This is a sentiment shared by American voters as well. A recent NAHB survey of likely 2012 voters conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners found that despite the ups and downs of the housing market, home owners and non-owners alike consider owning a home essential to the American Dream and support politicians who embrace pro-housing policies and the mortgage interest deduction.
An overwhelming 75 percent of the respondents said that owning a home is worth the risk of the fluctuations in the market and 73 percent of those who do not own a home say it is a goal of theirs to eventually buy one. Equally telling, more than 70 percent of voters believe the federal government should provide tax incentives to promote homeownership and oppose proposals to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction -- a sentiment that cuts across party lines.
As Congress looks at tax expenditures and all programs come under review, it is important to protect the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the most successful affordable rental housing production program in U.S. history. Eliminating the LIHTC would bring production and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing to a standstill.
Since its inception, the program has made possible the production of more than 2 million affordable apartments. It creates approximately 95,000 new full-time jobs, adds $7.1 billion in income to the economy and generates approximately $2.8 billion in federal, state and local taxes each year. In recent years, the LIHTC has produced about 75,000 new apartment homes annually.
The demand for affordable housing is acute and far exceeds the ability of LIHTC projects to keep pace. The program is essential to address the shortage of affordable housing options in our cities and towns.

Setting the Record Straight About Housing

By Earl McLeod

As the debate over tax reform and the regulatory structure of the housing finance system intensifies, misconceptions about housing and finance are proliferating. Following is the truth about some of the most widespread inaccuracies. 

Misconception: Only the wealthy benefit from the mortgage interest deduction. 
This pervasive fiction is a commonly cited reason for justifying elimination of the mortgage interest deduction. 

Income tax deductions for mortgage interest and real estate taxes primarily benefit middle-class taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000. And among first-time home buyers, 68 percent of households earn less than $80,000. First-time home buyers benefit most from the mortgage interest deduction because more of their mortgage payment is applied to interest. 

Misconception: In the wake of the recession and housing market downturn, Americans have become disenchanted with homeownership and it is no longer a part of the American Dream. 

Not so, according to a March 2011 study by the Pew Research Center. Among the more than 2,100 people surveyed, 81 percent agreed that homeownership is the best long-term investment a person can make. That sentiment even held true among those who said their homes lost value during the recession; 82 percent of that group indicated that homeownership is the best long-term investment a person can make. 

Misconception: Eliminating government sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would have no effect on rental housing. 

Investing in new and existing rental housing requires access to affordable financing. In the wake of the financial crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), have become the primary sources of financing for rental properties of all types. In considering whether the government should continue to guarantee mortgages through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or some other mechanism, policymakers should keep in mind their importance as a stable, long-term source of financing for rental as well as owner-occupied housing, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. 

Misconception: Homeownership advocates say everyone should own a home.

Homeownership isn’t for everyone, but everyone should be able to choose a home that meets their needs, whether they rent or buy. And government policies, such as the proposed Qualified Residential Mortgage standard, should not limit homeownership opportunities unnecessarily.

Earl McLeod is Executive Director of the Greater Columbia Home Builders Association and a member of the South Carolina Home Builders Housing Hall of Fame.

Ten At the Top: Local Transportation Organizations Approve Collaboration Agreement

Illustrating the importance of collaboration, partnerships and planning as we look toward future transportation needs in the Upstate, the two largest federally mandated transportation planning organizations in the region - the Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study (GPATS) and the Spartanburg Area Transportation Study (SPATS) - in partnership with the Appalachian Council of Governments, have approved a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow staffs from these organizations to formally collaborate on planning and implementation of transportation projects.

The agreement is also expected to help entice the region for economic development, reduce costs while improving efficiencies, improve communications regarding plans, projects and programs and better position the region for being awarded regional transportation grants.

While agreements of this nature are common among neighboring transportation planning entities across the nation, this is the first such agreement in the Upstate.

"There are many commonalities between what we are doing and what is being done at GPATS," said Jim D'Amato, Transportation Planning Manager for SPATS. "This agreement will allow us to formally identify where we can work together and increase efficiencies across the Upstate."

The agreement was approved by the SPATS policy board at their meeting on November 14th and by the GPATS policy board during their meeting on January 9th. The Appalachian Council of Governments agreed to serve as a third partner because they serve as the transportation planning organization for the non-urban areas in Greenville, Spartanburg and Pickens counties as well as for Cherokee, Oconee and Anderson. The hope is that this agreement will eventually also include the Anderson transportation planning agency as well as the other councils of governments that support the transportation needs in the non-urban areas within Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Union counties.

"By approving this MOU we have now sent a message that we are taking collaboration and regional planning for future transportation needs seriously here in the Upstate," said Rick Danner, Mayor of the City of Greer and a member of the GPATS Policy Board. "Hopefully this will help trigger greater coordination with state and federal authorities to ensure that they understand and support fulfilling the long-term transportation needs within this region."

In addition to the three partners, local cities and counties other organizations involved in the discussions that led to the Memorandum of Understanding include Greenlink, GSP Airport, SPARTA, Ten at the Top and Upstate Forever.

Addison Homes Earns A+ Rating from Better Business Bureau

Addison Homes has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

The Greenville-based homebuilder, which has received BBB accreditation since March 2004, follows a strong code of ethics that’s easily in accordance with the Better Business Bureau’s vision to ensure an ethical marketplace founded on mutual trust between companies and consumers.

“We at Addison Homes are diligent in our efforts to build not only high-performance homes but also ethical relationships with each and every client, vendor and trade partner,” says Todd Usher, president of Addison Homes. “Our company is committed to following the Golden Rule, and the BBB’s A+ ranking confirms our business philosophy.”

BBB’s standards for accreditation require a company to build trust, advertise honestly, tell the truth, be transparent, honor promises, be responsive, safeguard privacy and embody integrity—all of which are standard operational procedures at Addison Homes.

“We are proud of our positive track record,” Usher says.

Todd Usher, President of Addison Homes, is Past President and 2009 Builder of the Year of the Home Builders Association of Greenville.  Addison Homes builds all of its homes to rigorous ENERGY STAR® and EarthCraft House™ standards. As a leader in sustainable, high-performance building, Addison Homes has received numerous awards and recognition including the 2011 Green Building Advocate of the Year Award from the National Association of Home Builders; 2011 Certified Graduate Builder of the Year Award from NAHB; 2010 Safety Award for Excellence from NAHB/Builders Mutual Insurance Company; 2010 Finalist, America’s Best Builder Award from BUILDER magazine; 2008 Individual Environmental Stewardship Award from the Upstate Chapter of the US Green Building Council; Upstate Forever’s 2008 Sustainable Communities Champion; and 2007 EarthCraft House™ Regional Builder of the Year Award.

For more information, visit

IBHS Rates South Carolina Fifth Among Hurricane-Prone States

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a research arm of the insurance industry with a testing facility near Chester, SC, released its ratings for 18 hurricane-prone states along the Atlantic coast.  The ratings evaluate the state's building code and its enforcement, code official certification and training, and contractor licensing.  South Carolina had the fifth highest rating, behind Florida, Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

View the ratings for each state at by clicking here.

From the IBHS press release, the report is the first of its kind, state-by-state assessment of individual state performance in developing and promulgating a residential building code system, which uses modern building codes, coupled with strong enforcement related activities to enhance the protection of homes and families.

“The report goes beyond just evaluating each state’s code system,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “The report offers each state the detailed information and tools it needs to improve its building code process to better protect its citizens. It also gives interested citizens useful information so that they can understand the need for, and demand, better building codes.”

The report combines IBHS’ engineering expertise and regulatory research to examine the three main elements of a state’s building code system:
  • Code adoption and enforcement – Statewide mandatory code adoption and enforcement are the primary elements to require that the minimum standards of codes are utilized.
  • Code official training and certification - Code official training and certification are part of the regulatory scheme to ensure that code officials are properly educated, trained and tested in order to correctly enforce building codes.
  • Licensing requirements for construction trades - Licensing requirements for construction trades ensure that contractors and subcontractors are familiar with the sections of code that impact them, that they demonstrate minimum competency in their trade, and stay current with code requirements.
“IBHS hopes to work with all of the states included in this report – as well as the other jurisdictions across the country – to improve building code regulatory systems. Strong, well enforced codes are essential to effectively strengthening homes, businesses and communities against hurricanes and many other hazards that threaten the U.S.,” Rochman said.

Residential Construction Employment Rose in 2011

Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics
For the first time since 2006, residential construction rose.  Employment in residential construction rose 46,000 jobs in 2011, and currently stands at 2.18 million jobs lower than its peak in 2006.  According to Calculated Risk, construction employment is still "mostly moving sideways, but at least it was not a drag on employment and GDP in 2011."

Read the full report at by clicking here.

National Public Radio also provided good news about construction employment in a report they aired on January 6.

To read the report at, click here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Speaker Newt Gingrich will speak at the Homeownership Works Rally

Speaker Newt Gingrich
Former Speaker and Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will speak at the Homeownership Works Rally in Columbia this week.  The rally is being planning by the National Association of Home Builders.
  • Homeownership Works Rally
  • Thursday, January 12, 12 noon
  • South Carolina State House, Columbia, SC
  • Presented by the National Association of Home Builders
The National Association of Home Builders is planning a rally at the South Carolina State House in January in to support the housing industry and homeownership in America—The American Dream.  Every member of the Home Builders Association of Greenville is encouraged to travel to the State House in Columbia to participate.

The goal of this event is to publicize the state and national impact of homeownership and the housing industry.  The Republican Presidential Preference Primary will take place less than two weeks after the rally.  Numerous Republican candidates for President of the United States will be in South Carolina campaigning the week of the rally, and one or more are expected to attend the rally.  They will be followed closely by the national media.  This rally is an opportunity for Home Builders to help their National Association of Home Builders to showcase the importance of homeownership and new home construction to America.

The rally, which starts at 1 p.m., is preceded by lunch on the State House grounds at 12 noon.

Please let your HBA of Greenville know your intentions about attending this rally by registering.  We will plan to arrange transportation either by bus or carpool, depending on the level of participation.  Please register as early as possible so we can plan accordingly.  Click here to register at to participate in the Homeownership Works Rally at the South Carolina State House.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

C. Dan Joyner Passes Away

It is with deep sadness that we report that C. Dan Joyner died Sunday, January 8.  He had been hospitalized for about a week with heart complications.  Please keep the Joyner family and the Prudential C. Dan Joyner team in your thoughts and prayers.  We will post information about funeral arrangements when we know them.

UPDATE: Visitation will be held Tuesday, January 10, 2012, from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church, Greenville. The funeral service will be held Thursday, January 12, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. in the church sanctuary. A private committal will be held following the service.

Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church - C. Dan Joyner Memorial Fund, 847 Cleveland Street, Greenville, SC 29601; or Furman University - C. Dan Joyner Athletic Scholarship Fund, 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613.

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