Friday, June 8, 2012

The Top 12 actions on behalf of Home Builders, Number 6: making fire sprinklers optional

Builder Review Daily is reviewing the Top 12 actions on behalf of Home Builders so far this year.

Number 6, keeping automatic fire sprinklers optional:

NAHB remains committed to the effort to maintain fire sprinklers as voluntary elements in new homes nationwide.

With the help of NAHB staff and resources available within the NAHB Fire Sprinkler Action Kit, our state and local HBAs have so far been successful in keeping mandatory sprinklers out of more than 36 states. NAHB is also diligently keeping track of efforts by the fire sprinkler advocates and providing our members with the necessary resources to effectively counter unfounded NFPA claims. 

In Columbia, the S.C. Building Codes Council again included a fire sprinkler mandate in the IRC 2012 proposed for adoption in the state.  However, they lacked the votes to approve the building code with the sprinkler mandate.  Your HBA of South Carolina continues to work diligently to keep sprinklers optional in South Carolina.  Unfortunately, if the sprinkler advocates continue to push for a sprinkler mandate, South Carolina may continue to use the 2006 building code for many years to come.

For more information about residential fire sprinklers or the NAHB code adoption action kits, contact Steve Orlowski (800-368-5242 x8303) or Mark Nix (803-771-7408).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Calculated Risk: housing inventory is down 22 percent

The media tells us that there is a glut of housing on the market.  We hear regular alarm bells about "overhang" and foreclosures sending housing prices down further.  But do the alarms match reality?

According to a report in Calculated Risk (Dude, Where's my inventory?), the inventory of housing is down 22 percent from the same time last year.  Read the entire report at Calculated Risk by clicking here.

The Top 12 HBA Actions, Number 5:

Builder Review Daily is exploring the Top 12 actions that NAHB has taken on behalf of Home Builders across the nation this Spring.

Number 5, implementation of a new website to harness public support for homeownership:

With numerous legislative and regulatory proposals taking aim at the American Dream of homeownership and federal elections just around the corner, NAHB is seeking to harness the public's support for this worthy cause through our newly launched website at

This consumer-oriented website alerts readers to the numerous threats to homeownership, including recent proposals to scale back or eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, raise the minimum downpayment on most mortgages and revoke federal government support for the housing finance system. Importantly, the site also provides multiple ways for the public to take positive action to protect this fundamental element of American life. For example, visitors are encouraged to sign an online petition that urges lawmakers to keep housing as a national priority, and are told how they can participate in upcoming homeownership rallies that NAHB has scheduled in communities across the country in coming months. For more information, contact: Blake Smith (800-368-5242 x8583).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Your HBA's Top 12 Actions, Number 4: a victory vs. the EPA

Builder Review Daily is exploring the Top 12 actions your HBA has taken on behalf of Home Builders during the Spring of 2012.

Number 4, a victory in court in a case of overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency:

A unanimous decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court on March 21 is a huge victory for property rights advocates and very good news for NAHB's members.

In Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Court agreed with NAHB arguments (submitted in the form of two amicus briefs) that a property owner who receives a Compliance Order from the EPA should be able to obtain judicial review in court. This decision is extremely important to our industry because home builders are often subject to Administrative Compliance Orders with no means to challenge them, unless the government decides to file an enforcement action or the builder applies for and is denied a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 permit. As of now, this is no longer the case. Instead, any builder who receives a CWA Compliance Order can challenge that order in federal court. In addition, whereas builders have previously had no place to turn when the EPA or Army Corps determines that a wetland or water body on their property falls under the agency's jurisdiction, they may now be able to seek relief in court.

In an official NAHB reaction statement, Chairman Barry Rutenberg summed it up in saying, "This ruling provides a check on EPA's capricious expansion of its regulatory authority. Finally, home owners and home builders have a way of challenging EPA Compliance Orders before they face big fines." For more information on this outstanding legal victory, contact Tom Ward (800-368-5242 x8230).

Monday, June 4, 2012

NAHB's Top 12 Actions, Number 3: a comprehensive framework for housing finance reform

Builder Review Daily continues to highlight the Top 12 actions your HBA has taken on your behalf at the Federal level.

Number 3, release of a comprehensive framework for housing finance reform and active discussions with lawmakers:

Because our members’ businesses depend upon the existence of an accessible and reliable housing finance system, NAHB has been deeply engaged in policymakers’ conversations about how best to reform the system, wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and ensure a stable supply of credit for both home buyers and rental housing. NAHB made a major contribution to this debate with the recent release of a comprehensive framework for housing finance reform that includes our specific recommendations.

Developed through a specially appointed NAHB working group and approved by NAHB's Board of Directors in Orlando, this plan stresses that any transition away from the current housing finance system must be done in a careful and deliberate manner to avoid further disruptions to an already fragile market. It is also built upon the recognition that, as the private market assumes a greater role in the marketplace, it is vital to maintain an appropriate level of government support to preserve financial stability, promote investor confidence and ensure liquidity/stability for homeownership and rental housing. In keeping with these core directives, NAHB's plan seeks to:
  • Include private, federal and state sources of housing capital.
  • Offer a reasonable menu of sound mortgage products for both single-family and multifamily housing that is governed by prudent underwriting standards and adequate oversight and regulation.
  • Transition Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to a new mortgage securitization system for single-family and multifamily conventional mortgages.
  • Consider the 12 regional Federal Home Loan Banks for this securitization role.
  • Phase in the new system over time and allow Fannie and Freddie to remain operational until the alternative system is fully functioning.
  • Provide a federal backstop to ensure that conventional 30-year home loans and adjustable rate mortgages are available at reasonable interest rates and terms.
  • Structure the federal support to the conventional mortgage market through a privately funded insurance fund similar to the FDIC’s backing of the fund that insures savings deposits. This will allow the government to be the insurer of last resort in order to reduce the risk to taxpayers.
  • Continue role of federal housing agencies (HUD, FHA, VA, USDA, Ginnie Mae).
  • Expand the role of the Federal Home Loan Banks in the housing finance system.
  • Restart a carefully regulated fully private mortgage-backed securities market through reforms to the securities ratings system to remove conflicts of interest.
  • Repair other flaws that produced the housing boom and bust by closing the gaps in standards and oversight that allowed and facilitated the improper and illegal activities in financial and mortgage markets.
NAHB believes this plan will produce a sound housing finance system that provides a stable and affordable supply of credit for home buyers and rental housing. Going forward, NAHB will be working with the Administration, Congress and policy stakeholders to make this goal a reality, and we have already begun to promote our plan among lawmakers and the media. Contact: Chellie Hamecs (800-368-5242 x8425).