Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rosewood Communities breaks ground on a house to benefit Homes For Hope

Craig Perfect, Allcon of Greenville
Rosewood Communities broke ground this week on a new house that will benefit Homes For Hope, a charity that raises money for Hope International.

The home will be built at Waterstone Cottages on Blacks Drive and is the third home built by Rosewood Communities for Homes For Hope.

Rosewood Communities teams up with its suppliers and subcontractors to build the home.  The partners in the home donate or deeply discount goods and services, maximizing the proceeds form the sale of the home.  When the home is sold the profits are donated to Homes For Hope.  Hope International uses the money to make micro loans to small businesses in third-world countries like Haiti.  To date, Rosewood's contributions to Homes for Hope have helped more than 9,000 people.

Member companies contributing to Rosewood's Homes for Hope project include Allcon of Greenville, which with its suppliers donates the roof of the home, Carter Lumber, which donates the door and window packages, and Greer State Bank, which finances the project.

Homes for Hope, based in Frisco, Texas, also is an HBA member.  To learn more about Homes for Hope, click here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Statement On Supreme Court Decision To Hear Case On Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has released the following statement from Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder and developer from Charlotte, N.C.

“NAHB is pleased by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear American Chemistry Council, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to challenge EPA’s plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

“Because of the way EPA has interpreted the statute, many NAHB members might be forced to obtain an expensive pre-construction permit for greenhouse gas emissions, which would bring most multifamily and mixed-use development to a halt. Some single-family and potentially even master-planned community development would also be affected.”

NAHB is part of a coalition that includes the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and the National Oilseed Processors Association. Briefing in this case will take place during the fall and winter of 2013. Oral argument will be held in February 2014 and a decision is expected in late spring 2014.

FHFA House Price Index Up 0.3 Percent in August

U.S. house price appreciation continued in August 2013, with prices rising 0.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous month, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) monthly House Price Index (HPI). The August HPI change marks the nineteenth consecutive monthly price increase in the purchase-only, seasonally adjusted index. The previously reported 1.0 percent increase in July was revised downward to a 0.8 percent increase.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From August 2012 to August 2013, house prices were up 8.5 percent. The U.S. index is 9.4 percent below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as the April 2005 index level.

For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from July to August ranged from -0.5 percent in the South Atlantic division to +1.3 percent in the Mountain division, while the 12-month changes ranged from +4.0 percent in the Middle Atlantic division to +18.2 percent in the Pacific 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.

For detailed information on the monthly HPI, see HPI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Want Your Voice Heard? Join an HBA Committee

Want your voice heard? Want to help make your association better, smarter, more relevant? Join an HBA of Greenville Committee. Want to know more about our committees? Click here to review our committee list and download job descriptions. Want to volunteer? Simply email Michael Dey at and state your committee preference. Don't want to serve on a committee but still want to volunteer? Send Michael an email with your areas of interest. The board forms task forces on a regular basis that handles a specific task and then disbands. Your association would love to have your help.

Flood Insurance Legislation Would Provide Premium Relief for Home Owners

At your HBA’s urging, the House and Senate on Oct. 29 introduced identical flood insurance legislation that would provide relief from soaring flood insurance premium rates for countless home owners across the nation, prevent undue hardship on the recovering housing market, stop home values from dropping and make the National Flood Insurance Program stronger and more effective for years to come.

Championed in the Senate by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and in the House by Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act offers a common-sense solution to fix some of the costly and unintended consequences resulting from the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.

The legislation would prevent premium rate hikes from taking effect for four years, which will give the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) time to conduct an affordability study and to reimburse those who can prove that its existing flood plain maps are inaccurate. The measure also requires FEMA to adopt sound engineering practices to accurately determine flood risk.

Though the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act will address many of the concerns NAHB members had with the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, NAHB is disappointed that this legislation does not address the treatment of non-primary residences and an issue of importance to remodelers.

The “substantial improvement” threshold – or the value of remodeling and renovation projects that cause the insurance premium rate increases to kick in – was lowered from 50% to 30% in the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. This lower threshold – which was unchanged in the newly unveiled House and Senate legislation -- is a potential disincentive for home owners who are considering hiring a professional remodeler to make improvements to their properties.

In addition to Menendez and Isakson, original cosponsors of the Senate bill include Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and David Vitter (R-La.).  Other cosponsors of the House bill include Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Cedric Richmond (D-La.).

NAHB: Construction Spending Continues to Improve

Total private residential construction spending increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $340.2 billion in August 2013 according to Census estimates. The August data for construction put in place data was released today after a delay of three weeks due to the government shutdown. The current reading is a 1.2% increase from the prior month and 18.7% higher than a year ago. After a tepid July, the pace of growth in construction spending improved in August.

Total private residential construction spending is at its highest level since August 2008. Since market low points, total private residential construction spending is up 48.9%, single-family 88.5%, multifamily 146.6%, and improvement-related spending 30.7%. Spending continues to improve for all categories, but remains well below their respective peaks.

Single-family spending registered an increase of 1.6% for the month, while the multifamily category saw a healthy increase of 3.2%. The home improvement category remained relatively flat with an increase of just 0.2% for the month.

For August, on a 3-month moving average basis, all categories continued to experience significant improvements over the course of 2013. Remodeling related spending is up 8.4% for the year-to-date. Single-family spending has increased by 12.9% and multifamily spending has increased 15.8%.

The data show improvements in construction for all categories. However, the government shutdown had yet to occur and is not reflected in the August data. A revised schedule posted by the Census indicates that September data for construction put in place will also be delayed one month. The September and October data are scheduled for release on the same date – December 2. This release should provide us with a better picture of construction spending moving forward.

Avoid Electrical Inspection Failure on Your Next Project

Top Electrical Code Violations for Residential Permits
Source: City of Greenville

According to Buddy Skinner, City of Greenville Assistant Building Codes Administrator, 25 percent of all electrical inspections on single family residential projects fail.  Below is a list of the top reasons for inspection failures:
  1. Receptacle outlets should be located so that one can be reached within 6-feet measured along the wall surface in either direction. Outlets should also be located on any wall space 2-feet or larger. (2012 International Residential Code E3901.2)
  2. Receptacle outlets on kitchen counters should be located so that one can be reached within 2-feet measured along the wall surface in either direction. Outlets need to be installed above any kitchen counter 12-inches or wider. (2012 IRC E3901.4)
  3. Seal all drilled or notched holes in top and bottom plates with an approved material. (2012 IRC R302.11)
  4. Any neutral conductors (white in color) used as a phase conductor for a 220-volt circuit should be marked with black tape. This is commonly seen on conductors feeding a water heater or mechanical unit. (2012 IRC E33407.1 and E3407.2)
  5. Receptacles cannot be installed within or directly over a bathtub or shower stall. (2012 IRC E4002.11)
  6. No light fixture or fan can have suspended parts within 3-feet horizontally or 8-feet vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold. (2012 IRC E4003.11)
  7. Watch the number of conductors that are installed in electrical boxes. A standard 20-cubic inch nail-on electrical box can have two romex wires and a device. A 22-cubic inch nail-on electrical box can have three romex wires and a device (2012 IRC E3905.12)
  8. Provide at least 6-inches of wire for device connection at each electrical box. (2012 IRC E3406.11.3)
  9. Arc-fault circuit protection is required for all circuits within a dwelling except for those required to be ground-fault protected. Wiring that supplies only smoke detectors do not have to be arc-fault protected. (2012 IRC E3902.12)
  10. In new dwelling units that have attached garages or fuel-fired appliances, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed outside each separate sleeping area near the bedroom or bedrooms. (2012 IRC R3015)
  11. Make sure that the bonding device is properly installed on all temporary power poles. (2012 IRC E3609)
  12. Where rebar is installed in footings, a bonding jumper must be connected from the rebar to the ground in the panel box. (2012 IRC E3608.1.2)
  13. Tabs in plastic boxes are designed to secure conductors and should not be removed. (2012 IRC E3403.3)
  14. Outdoor receptacles are required at grade level (not higher than 6’6’’) at the front and back of every dwelling and on every porch and balcony. (2012 IRC E3901.7)
  15. Observe burial depth requirements for underground cables and raceways (2012 IRC Table E3803.1)
  16. Nonmetallic cable (Romex) can only be used in dry locations (2012 IRC Table E3801.4) Note: Romex cannot be used in conduit outside to feed a mechanical unit.
  17. Ground-fault protected outlets are required in the crawl space and basement. (2012 IRC E3902.4 and 3902.5)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FHFA Index Shows Mortgage Interest Rates Continue to Rise in September

National data show interest rates on mortgages continued their upward trend. Contract mortgage interest rates increased 0.11 percent from August to September, according to an index of new mortgage contracts.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the National Average Contract Mortgage Rate for the Purchase of Previously Occupied Homes by Combined Lenders index was 4.38 percent for loans closed in late September. The index is calculated using FHFA’s Monthly Interest Rate Survey. The contract rate on the composite of all mortgage loans was 4.36 percent, up 11 basis points from 4.25 in August.

Interest rates are typically locked in 30-45 days before a loan is closed. Consequently, September data reflect market rates from mid-to-late August. The effective interest rate was 4.51 percent, up 11 basis points from 4.40 percent in August. The effective interest rate accounts for the addition of initial fees and charges over the life of the mortgage.

FHFA’s interest rate survey shows the average interest rate on conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages of $417,000 or less was 4.63 in September, an increase of 14 basis points. The average loan amount for all loans was $270,100 in September down $4,400 from $274,500 in August.