Friday, June 15, 2012

Graphs and Laughs: White births down, Hispanic births up

It's official, white non-Hispanic births are less than 50 percent of all births. Of the 4 million babies born during the year ending July 2011, 50.4 percent were to minorities, up from 48.6 percent a year earlier. Among adults over 50, African-Americans are the largest minority while among those under 50, Hispanics dominate. Non-Hispanic whites comprise 63.4 percent of the US population, but are aging fast with a median age of 42. I'm feeling old.

Elliot F. Eisenberg, Ph.D.
GraphsandLaughs, LLC

NAHB's Top 12, Number 10: 20 Clubs

Builder Review Daily is highlighting the top 12 actions taken on behalf of Home Builders so far this Spring.

Accomplishment number 10: 20 Clubs

More than two dozen meetings of NAHB’s “20 Clubs” have been convened so far this spring, providing a unique networking and educational opportunity for participants who value the chance to learn from fellow NAHB members across the country about what’s working, and what’s not, in their markets at the present time.

20 Clubs are comprised of similar type builders or remodelers from non-competing markets who meet several times a year to share their wisdom and learn from each other ways to improve their operations and increase their bottom lines. Members share and compare financial information, look for trouble spots, and offer each other advice on how to increase their profit ratios and improve their performance. These offerings are consistently rated among the most effective networking options that NAHB provides and can be especially useful amidst today’s volatile marketplace.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dillard-Jones Builders' 2012 Southern Living Showcase Home Raises $10,000 for GHS Children's Hospital

The 2012 Southern Living Showcase Home by Dillard-Jones Builders raised $10,000 and collected almost 300 toys, coloring books, bubbles and other items for the Child Life program at Children's Hospital of Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center (GHS). Dillard-Jones President Tom Dillard and Vice President Susan Peace-Vernon presented the items and a check for $10,000 to hospital officials during a news conference on Thursday, June 14.

Dillard-Jones Builders does not charge admission to tour its Southern Living Showcase Homes, rather donations are collected to benefit a local charity. GHS Children’s Hospital was selected as the non-profit partner of the 2012 Southern Living Showcase Home held May 4-27, with the Child Life Program, specifically, benefiting from contributions by Showcase Home visitors.

“Once again, the generosity of those who toured the Southern Living Showcase Home was overwhelming,” said Dillard-Jones President Tom Dillard. “We are extremely excited this year to be able to present to GHS Children’s Hospital a check for $10,000, along with almost 300 toys and other items for use by the hospital’s Child Life program.”

The Child Life program at Children's Hospital is not completely included in the hospital's operating budget, relying on the generosity of corporate partners, individual donors and special events to raise the funds to purchase needed items such as coloring books, crayons, markers, bubbles, musical and light up toys, DVD’s, plastic and Match Box cars. Child Life specialists use the items to help children and their families cope with potentially traumatic events, and to help reduce the stress and anxiety that many children experience in hospitals and health care settings. GHS Children's Hospital is one of only two hospitals in the Upstate that have certified child life specialists as part of its health care team.

“We are very thankful for Dillard-Jones’ partnership with Children’s Hospital, specifically our Child Life program,” said Gina Blohm, Program Manager for Children's Hospital of Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center. “We are grateful to Dillard-Jones for the opportunity to be a part of this beautiful Showcase Home tour, and to all of those who made donations.”

The 2012 Southern Living Showcase Home at River Reserve Phase Four in Piedmont, SC was the fourth Southern Living Showcase Home presented by Dillard-Jones Builders. The 2012 tour welcomed more than 5,000 visitors during four weekends in May.

Established in 2004, Dillard-Jones Builders is a member of the Southern Living Custom Builder Program representing the national magazine in Greenville, SC and Asheville, NC. Dillard-Jones was named the Southern Living Custom Builder of the Year in 2009 and 2011 – the first homebuilder to win the prestigious national award twice. For more information, visit

NAHB's Top 12, Number 9: Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

Builder Review Daily is highlighting your HBA's Top 12 actions this Spring on behalf of home builders.

Number 9, Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget:

NAHB added to its online course offerings with the recent introduction of the “Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget” program.

Participants in this course learn how to analyze target markets, identify competitive advantages, create accurate pro formas and monitor outcomes, which are essential skills to any business. The course compliments two others that were added to our offerings prior to the Builders Show that focused on the subjects of customer service and the basics of building. A fourth online designation course will be offered by the end of this year for those seeking to be recognized as a “Certified New Home Sales Professional.” Such offerings allow our members to obtain professional designations that can help set them apart from the competition while fulfilling their continuing education requirements on their own schedule. NAHB’s online courses are interactive and include content in audio and video formats, on-screen text, transcripts and other downloadable resources. In addition, each online course offers a discussion forum where students can pose questions and share perspectives with their peers and an NAHB-approved featured instructor. NAHB also offers group discounts to companies and organizations who wish to educate a group of individuals on the same topic.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Understanding High Performance Homes class offered for real estate agents and appraisers

New building codes, voluntary building standards and changes in technology are making new homes more efficient and healthier than homes from 20, 10 and even five years ago. Consumers are hearing about high performance homes and they are asking questions that real estate agents will need to be able to answer. These homes include features, products and building techniques that must be accounted for by appraisers or the true value of the home will be underestimated.

The Green Building Council of Greater Columbia saw a need for real estate agents and appraisers to learn more about this new type of home building and developed a class to fill the need. “Understanding High Performance Homes” has been designed to help these groups understand what makes high performance homes work, how they stack up to traditionally built homes, and how they are scientifically tested, verified and, in some cases, certified in a third-party program.

The class has been approved by the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Real Estate Appraisers Board and will count toward Continuing Education credit needs for each profession. The class will be offered three times before the end of June in cities around the state. Sponsored by the SC Energy Office.

June 21 - Greenville, SC
  • Hosted by the HBA of Greenville and Greenville Technical College 
June 26 - Lexington, SC
  • Hosted by the HBA of Greater Columbia and SCE&G 
June 28 - Charleston, SC
  • Hosted by the Charleston Trident HBA and Berkeley Electric Cooperative 
 Learn more and register to take the class at or call (803) 256-6238. Class fee is $75/student in Lexington and $85/student in Greenville and Charleston. Approved for 7 CEUs for real estate agents and appraisers.

Primary Elections are Today; Read the Builder Ballot

Today is Primary Election Day in South Carolina.  Candidates from the Republican and Democrat Parties compete today for nomination to run in the General Election in November.

South Carolina Builders Political Action Committee is the method by which members of the Home Builders Association of Greenville work together to elect pro-housing candidates to the various elected offices.  HBA members contribute voluntarily to SCBPAC.  The Legislative Committee of the HBA of Greenville interviewed various candidates, and the Board of Directors made the final decision on who would receive support.

The following are the candidates who have been supported by S.C. Builders PAC:

Senate District 6: Senator Mike Fair in the Republican Primary
Senate District 7: Representative Karl Allen in the Democrat Primary
Senate District 8: Ross Turner in the Republican Primary
Greenville County Council District 20: Councilman Sid Cates in the Republican Primary
Greenville County Council District 21: Councilman Jim Burns in the Republican Primary
Greenville County Council District 22: Councilman Bob Taylor in the Republican Primary
Pickens County Council District 5: Chairwoman Jennifer Willis in the Republican Primary

If you are a Republican or Democrat, please exercise your right to vote and participate in the Primary Elections today.  For information about voting in South Carolina, visit

Independent Contractors- Is the IRS Looking at YOU?

If you are an Independent Contractor, or you hire independent contractors, you may want to analyze your records and methods of operation because the IRS and Department of Labor have recently teamed up and are now on the lookout for appropriate use of Independent Contractor Status.

According to the IRS website an Independent Contractor is someone who is self- employed and not controlled by an employer (dictating how a job will be done and what will be done). If this description is not cut and dry for you there are several scenarios and categories to look into. Visit the IRS website by clicking here to review ways to determine which category applies to you.

Based on which type of Independent Contractor scenario you fall into you will want to take a look at the employment tax obligations that may help you avoid future issues. These can also be found at the IRS website mentioned above.

Review these common tax issues to help ensure that an auditor isn’t standing in your office.
  1. Proper documentation of time worked. Track overtime and not have back pay due to an employee 
  2. Taxes due for both the company and the employee on income from cash payments.
By taking a look now you can hopefully avoid any issues in the future.

Michelle Usher elected Secretary of Greenville Professional Women's Forum

Michelle Usher, vice president of sales and marketing for Addison Homes, has been elected secretary of the Greenville Professional Women's Forum.

Established in 1978, the Greenville Professional Women's Forum provides a way for executive-level women to network, share ideas, and offer support.  More than 100 members, selected by invitation only, comprise a diverse group of leaders in business and industry, as well as civic and community affairs.

Governor Haley signs law to reverse S.C. Supreme Court ruling that hurt home building

Home Builders scored a huge victory last week in Columbia.  Legislation (H.4654) to restore the integrity of the Pollution Control Act in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in the Smith Land Company case received final approval in the House and Senate this week. The bill was signed into law by the Governor on Wednesday, June 6th.

Under the Smith Land Company opinion, the Supreme Court held that a permit from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control was required on any discharge into the environment under the state's Pollution Control Act. Further, the Court held that a private right of action exists that would allow any citizen to sue an alleged violator under the Act. Both of these interpretations are a significant change in the implementation of the Pollution Control Act and would have posed uncertainty in the regulatory process, cause significant harm to SC's economic development efforts, and expose business and industry to environmental litigation.

A controversial move by environmentalists (from Julian Barton's Legislative Report)
Several environmental groups were a party to the compromise that resulted in the Smith Land Company bill that passed.  Just as the bill was passing the SC House, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Waccamaw River Keeper, and the SC Coastal Conservation League filed a lawsuit against Santee Cooper in violation of the compromise language in the bill.

It was clear that the environmental community once again did not live up to their word!  The 11th hour sneak attack was not appreciated by legislators who had worked hard to craft a solution.  The environmentalists unrelenting attack on coal fired electric plants in South Carolina continues unabated.  South Carolina is moving from being energy independent to energy dependent! 

15 million homes have negative equity--12 percent are in the top 10 cities

According to Zillow, 15 million homes in the U.S. have negative equity of $1.19 trillion.  The top 10 cities with the most underwater homes account for nearly 1.8 million of the homes with negative equity, or 12 percent.

The top 10 cities with the most underwater homes are:
  1. Las Vegas, NV, 71 percent of mortgages are underwater (236,817)
  2. Reno, NV, 61.7 percent underwater (46,115)
  3. Bakersfield, CA, 60.5 percent  underwater (70,947)
  4. Modesto, CA, 60.3 percent underwater (46,598)
  5. Stockton, CA, 60.3 percent underwater (60,349)
  6. Vallejo, CA, 60.3 percent underwater (44,526)
  7. Visalia, CA, 57.7 percent underwater (44,526)
  8. Phoenix, AZ, 55.5 percent underwater (430,527)
  9. Atlanta, GA, 55.5 percent underwater (581,831)
  10. Orlando, FL, 53.9 percent underwater (205,369)

NAHB's Top 12, Number 8: 12 Webinars

Builder Review Daily is highlighting your HBA's Top 12 actions this Spring on behalf of home builders.

Number 8, 12 Webinars:

NAHB has produced nearly a dozen educational webinars since the IBS that have brought expert instruction and advice directly to our members’ offices and local HBAs.

NAHB webinars provide up-to-the-minute education on industry issues, trends and best practices. They are designed to meet the needs of a broad range of participants, including builders, remodelers, sales and marketing professionals, real estate agents, brokers, multifamily professionals, architects and designers. Because these events are relatively inexpensive to produce, they provide a cost-effective way to reach out to our members with the information they need to improve their businesses. In the year to date, some of our most popular webinars have focused on universal design techniques, the future of aging-in-place remodeling, findings of our cost of doing business study, and marketing and design trends. Another very well-attended webinar offering was our Builders Guide to Appraisals webinar, which was offered free to members on May 16 and provided expert advice on improving communications with lenders and appraisers, dealing with appraisals in distressed markets, and ways to address appraisal errors, among other subjects. Yet another always-popular offering was the Spring Construction Forecast webinar, in which three world-class economists offered presentations and took questions regarding the current and expected state of the housing industry and its components. Altogether, our webinars have been viewed by members across at least 42 HBAs from more than 1,000 sites across the country since the IBS. Contact: Steve Melman (800-368-5242 x8245).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Top 12 Actions on behalf of Home Builders, Number 7: Particiation in the Building Code Development Hearings

Builder Review Daily is highlighting the top 12 actions taken on behalf of Home Builders so far in 2012.

Number 7: Particiation in the Building Code Development Hearings

NAHB’s members greatly benefitted from their representation on six of the seven committees that met recently as part of the International Code Council’s 2012 “Group A” code development hearings for the 2015 I-Codes.

The complex code development process and its outcome directly affect every builder member of our organization, and require an extensive amount of expertise, effort and time on the part of our staff and member volunteers. In the latest code hearings covering primarily requirements for commercial and multifamily construction, just over 1,600 code change proposals were submitted. After careful study, NAHB took a position of support or opposition on 359 of those proposals and a “watch” position on more than 100 others. Thanks in large part to our representation on the convening committees and the diligent work done by our committee members, NAHB chalked up an over-80% success rate on the proposals that we supported/opposed. Our successes pertained to a long list of items, from ventilation requirements to guardrails, townhouse classification, egress windows, sealed roof decks, and more. NAHB committee and staff experts will next be determining what comments to submit prior to the ICC’s Final Action Hearings on the Group A code changes this coming fall. Contact: Gary Ehrlich (800-368-5242 x8545).