Thursday, December 4, 2014

Carolyn Tate

The Board of Directors, members, and staff of the Home Builders Association of Greenville extend their condolences to the family of Carolyn B. Tate, 76, who died Monday, December 01, 2014.  She was the mother of Ronald G. Tate, Jr., General Counsel of the Home Builders Association of Greenville and partner with Gallivan, White and Boyd, P.A., in Greenville.

In addition to Ron, surviving are Sherry, Ron's wife, Bob Tate and his wife, Sherry, of Piedmont, and Eddie Tate and his wife, Laura, of Williamston.  Also surviving are seven grandchildren and two brothers, B. J. Bell of Columbia and Charles Bell of Mauldin.

Services were held Wednesday, December 3, 2014, at Woodlawn Memorial Park. Condolences may be sent to the family at

2014 Past Presidents Luncheon

On Wednesday, December 3rd your Home Builders Association hosted our annual Past Presidents Luncheon at Larkins' on the River, sponsored by J-Freeman & Associates. There was lots of smiling faces, stories, and advice for the incoming 2015 HBA President. The group will also welcomed current president Mike Freeman of ACA/ Freewood Contracting to their distinguished club.

Thank you for your service and dedication to our association and the industry!

Past Presidents who have served the HBA of Greenville:
( * denotes attendance at this years luncheon)
1960 and 1961 Donald Baltz
1962 Edgar Teasley                                   
1963 John Taylor, Jr.
1964 M. Graham Proffitt *
1965 Marion Uldrick                                     
1966 Eugene Rackley
1967 Lloyd W. Gilstrap          
1968 Edward H. Hembree
1969 W. N. Leslie
1970 Larry Gibson
1971 Levis Gilstrap
1972 John Cothran *
1973 Harold Newton
1974 Ray Dempsey
1975 J. W. Roberts *
1976 James Vaughn
1977 W. Glenn Hawkins
1978 David Balentine
1979 A. James Nelson
1980 A.J. Prince *
1981 Ralph Hendricks
1982 David Douglas
1983 Wm. H. McCauley
1984 Bobby Sexton
1985 Don Franklin
1986 Dee Smith
1987 Jerry Marsh
1988 James Leary *
1989 Ed Burgess
1990 Joe W. Jelks, III
1991 Don Rex
1992 Dennis Waldrop *
1993 Lynn Yeargin *
1994 Rodney Edwards
1995 Doug Ashmore *
1996 William (Billy) Dunn
1997 Tim Justice
1998 and 1999 Gale Crawford *
2000 Wayne Moore*
2001 Richard Merritt *
2002 Jim Gregorie *
2003 Keith Smith
2004 Hal Dillard *
2005 Clyde Rector
2006 Coleman Shouse
2007 Dan Rawls
2008 Todd Usher
2009 Bruce Pasquarella
2010 Thomas Dillard *
2011 Wayne Moore
2012 Robert Markel *
2013 Rick Quinn *
2014 Mike Freeman *

Past President's with sponsor Jason Freeman of J-Freeman and Associates on the left.

New Code Cost Requirement Benefits Builders and Buyers

In a big win for Home Builders and the home buyers we represent, the International Code Council (ICC) has taken a significant step forward in ensuring that code change proposals come with disclosure of their price tags.

In its press release announcing the opening of the 2015/2016/2017 code development cycle, ICC also announced that it will require all advocates to include the costs associated with any proposals introduced along with the paybacks, where appropriate.

It’s exactly what NAHB Chairman-elect Tom Woods asked for when he addressed the ICC board on September 29 and called on code change proponents to provide “quantitative information regarding the magnitude of the expected increase in construction costs.”

In an official statement lauding the ICC ruling on cost estimates, NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly said:

“NAHB commends the ICC for approving this landmark ruling that will require all code change proposals to include cost estimates. By acknowledging that costs are an important factor in determining the merit of code change proposals, this will make the building codes process more cost-effective and affordable. In turn, this will help keep housing costs down, enable builders to construct more energy-efficient homes and allow more young families to enter the new home buying market.”

This issue has been an important concern for Home Builders, as noted in this recent Eye on Housing blog.

To learn more about the ICC and the code development process, NAHB has provided a code toolkit that includes suggested amendments to make the latest versions of the 2015 family of ICC codes more affordable and practical. HBA members must be logged in to to download and view the toolkit.

U.S. House Approves Tax Extenders Bill

By a wide bipartisan of 378-46 margin, the U.S. House last night approved H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act, which will renew scores of temporary tax provisions known as “tax extenders” that are set to expire this year.  Severa are of interest to the housing community. The one-year retroactive renewal is through 2014 and dates back to January 1.

NAHB is disappointed that a longer-term deal was not reached, but the political situation and the calendar have forced Congress into a one-year deal everyone hoped to avoid.

Just one week ago, Congress was headed to a bipartisan, bicameral deal which would have extended all of the expired provisions for two years through 2015. The agreement also would have made a handful of extenders, like the research and development tax credit, permanent.

Just hours after word of the agreement leaked out, the White House scuttled the deal by announcing the President would veto any bill that contained these permanent provisions.

In a letter to the House prior to the bill’s passage, your Home Builders Association urged lawmakers to support the legislation. We also expressed concern that these short-term tax bills create difficulties for our members by denying builders the certainty needed to finance complex projects and called on Congress to act quickly on a longer-term deal in early 2015

Key provisions in the tax extenders package for 2014 (retroactive to January 1) include:
  • Section 45L Tax Credit for Energy Efficient New Homes. Provides builders a $2,000 tax credit for exceeding energy standards by 50 percent. The base energy code is the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code plus supplements. Section 45L is expected to save home builders $267 million in taxes for 2014 construction activity.
  • Fixed Credit Rate for 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects. The bill will renew the 9 percent fixed rate, but only for 2014 allocations.
  • Section 25C Tax Credit for Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements. This is a credit worth up to $500 (subject to a $500 lifetime cap), with lower caps for certain products like windows, for consumers to install qualified energy efficient upgrades. Remodelers often leverage 25C tax credits when working with clients. Section 25C is expected to save home owners who remodel $832 million in taxes for 2014 improvements.
  • Section 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction. Provides a deduction up to $1.80 per square foot for commercial buildings, including multifamily buildings built under the commercial code, that exceed specific energy efficiency minimums. The proposal also would change the baseline for the efficiency standards to the ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2007 standards.
  • Section 163 Deduction for Private Mortgage Insurance. Allows taxpayers, subject to an income cap, to deduct premiums paid for private mortgage insurance. The deduction for PMI is expected to save home owners $919 million for tax year 2014.
  • Bonus Depreciation. Extends the 50 percent bonus depreciation.
  • Section 179 Expensing. Increases the maximum expensing amount to $500,000 for qualified property on up to $2 million in property placed in service.
  • Short-sale mortgage debt forgiveness. The provision would extend through 2014 the exclusion from gross income of a discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness due to a short sale.
The Senate is expected to take up and pass H.R. 5771 next week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

City of Greenville announces new inspectors, fee increase

The City of Greenville released the following statement this week regarding its staffing levels in Building Codes Administration, and a planned fee increase:

"Due to the unprecedented growth that the city of Greenville is experiencing, and the resulting increase in construction activity, the City of Greenville’s 2014-2015 budget included funding for three additional positions in the Building and Property Maintenance Division. The new positions included two inspectors and a plan routing technician, and were created as part of the City’s efforts to meet the increased demand for services and streamline the permitting and inspection processes. Additional plans include utilizing technology to increase inspectors’ productivity and time in the field, and expanding the current data management system to provide the public with real-time inspection results, online permitting and access to project plan review management. To that end, the City’s budget also included a 10 percent increase in fees for building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits, which will be effective January 1, 2015."

Buddy Skinner, Building Codes Administrator, also reports that the city will be moving to a new, web-based permitting system called Click2Gov during the first quarter of 2015.  With the new program, permit requests, inspection results and payment will be conducted online.

Buddy Skinner will be our guest speaker at the next Builder Breakfast, date to be determined but in late January or early February, to demonstrate the new system to builders.  Stay tuned for more information.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Community Service Committee collects 50 coats at November Coat Drive

A total of 50 men's, women's, and children's coats collected through the month of November for Miracle Hill!

As many were making their way to the HBA of Greeenville Annual Meeting, Featuring Jerry Howard and sponsored by PestBan, on November 13th they brought a new or gently used coat with them. Many coats were brought to the TD Center for the meeting but for those that were not able to attend the meeting the HBA office had collection bins on hand.
Your HBA of Greenville is so excited to help those in need by helping provide warmth this winter to someone less fortunate.

The Community Service Committee is thankful for your support and participation. Happy Holidays!

Thank you to our members!

2 packed bins of coats...That's a lot of coats!

FHFA Index Shows Mortgage Interest Rates Increase in October

Nationally, interest rates on conventional purchase-money mortgages increased from September to October, according to several indices of new mortgage contracts.

The National Average Contract Mortgage Rate for the Purchase of Previously Occupied Homes by Combined Lenders index was 4.11 percent for loans closed in late October, up 5 basis points from 4.06 percent in September.

The average interest rate on all mortgage loans was 4.11 percent, up 4 basis points from 4.07 in September.

The average interest rate on conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages of $417,000 or less was 4.31 percent, a decrease of 2 basis points from 4.33 in September.

The effective interest rate on all mortgage loans was 4.27 percent in October, up 5 basis points from 4.22 percent in September. The effective interest rate accounts for the addition of initial fees and charges over the life of the mortgage.

The average loan amount for all loans was $285,000 in October, up $4,000 from $281,000 in September.

FHFA House Price Index Rises for 13th Consecutive Quarter

Latest Monthly House Price Index Shows Sign of Possible Slowing

U.S. house prices rose 0.9 percent in the third quarter of 2014 according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI). This is the 13th consecutive quarterly price increase in the purchase-only, seasonally adjusted index.

The HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages sold to, or guaranteed by, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Compared with last year, house prices rose 4.5 percent from the third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2014. FHFA’s seasonally adjusted monthly index for September was unchanged from August.

“Easing interest rates and modestly improving labor market conditions helped to drive up prices in the third quarter,” said FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis. “The price increases were relatively small in most areas, however, and are consistent with the type of market deceleration that other housing market statistics have shown in recent periods.”

FHFA’s expanded-data house price index, a metric that adds transaction information from county recorder offices and the Federal Housing Administration to the HPI data sample, rose 1.5 percent over the prior quarter. Over the last year, that index is up 6.0 percent. For individual states, price changes reflected in the expanded-data measure and the traditional purchase-only HPI are compared on pages 17-19 of this report.

Significant Findings:
  • The seasonally adjusted, purchase-only HPI rose in 40 states during the third quarter of 2014. The top five states in annual appreciation: 1) Nevada 2) Hawaii 3) California 4) North Dakota 5) Florida.
  • Of the nine census divisions, the West South Central division experienced the strongest increase in the third quarter, posting a 1.8 percent increase and a 5.8 percent increase since last year. House prices were weakest in the Middle Atlantic division, where prices increased 0.1 percent from the prior quarter.
  • As measured with purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S., third quarter price increases were greatest in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) where prices increased by 6.6 percent. Prices were weakest in the Greensboro-High Point, NC MSA, where they fell 4.4 percent.
  • Eleven of the 20 metropolitan areas with the highest annual appreciation rates were in California.
  • The monthly seasonally adjusted purchase-only index for the U.S. showed no change between August and September. The last time prices did not change on a month-over-month basis was in November 2013.
FHFA’s “distress-free” house price indexes, which are published for 12 large metropolitan areas, have tended to show lower quarterly appreciation in recent periods than FHFA’s traditional purchase-only indexes. In the third quarter, however, the distress-free measures do not show systematically different price changes than the purchase-only indexes.

FHFA’s purchase-only and all-transactions indexes average house price changes in either repeat sales or refinancings on the same single-family properties. The purchase-only index is based on more than 7 million repeat sales transactions, while the all-transactions index (calculated using both sales prices and appraisal values from refinance mortgages) includes more than 51 million repeat transactions. Both indexes are based on data obtained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for mortgages originated over the past 38 years.

Conforming Loan Limits Unchanged in SC at $417,000

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced that the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2015 will remain at $417,000 for one-unit properties in South Carolina.  That amount is the conforming loan limit for the majority of the county. The loan limits are established under the terms of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) and are calculated each year.

HERA sets maximum loan limits as a function of median home values. In 46 counties loan limits will rise because those counties experienced increases in local home values. These metro areas include Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Nashville, Seattle and San Diego.

Although other counties experienced home value increases in 2014, after other elements of the HERA formula were accounted for the local-area limits were left unchanged.

A list of the 2015 maximum conforming loan limits for all counties and county-equivalent areas in the country can be found here.

Workers’ Compensation Fraud: What to Look For

Workers’ compensation insurance fraud can be committed by employees, employers, insurers, agents, doctors, lawyers or anyone else involved in the workers’ compensation process. But workers’ comp fraud primarily penalizes employers and their employees.

When someone fakes or exaggerates a job-related injury or illness to collect benefits, it often causes insurance rates to go up, which can leave employers with less money to provide employees with raises, paid vacations and other benefits.

While the majority of workers’ comp claims are filed in good faith, experts agree that a number of them are fraudulent and that employers should be on the lookout for the following warning signs.

Red flags include claimants who:
  • Do not complain when their checks are late, or fail to show up to collect their checks.
  • Present conflicting medical information.
  • Change the frequency of communication with claims adjusters.
  • Claim injuries that are not easily detected, such as back and neck injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome and other conditions related to repetitive motion trauma.
  • Have prior workers’ compensation claims history.
  • Present claims for non-labor intensive injuries.
  • Present pain-related injuries but refuse to undergo surgery or physical therapy.
  • Present claims related to mental health.
  • Are uncooperative and argumentative.
  • Present diagnosis changes after or during claims periods.
  • Fail to keep scheduled medical examinations.
  • Are experiencing financial difficulties.
  • Have records of excessive absenteeism prior to filing workers’ compensation claims.
  • Move out of state following an accident or use a post office box for a home address.
  • Have worked in the same position for a lengthy period of time and have become bored with the job.
  • Are never home when called, but return calls later in the day.
Employers should exercise extreme caution before confronting an employee they suspect of fraud. Uncovering a fraudulent claim can result in substantial savings, but a competent investigator and legal counsel should be consulted before any action is taken against an employee. Doing so will help you steer clear of false accusations that could lead to costly litigation.

William Davis

Please remember the family and friends of William Davis, father-in-law of Milton Shockley, RE/MAX Realty Professionals.  Services were held November 25, 2014.

Keith Smith

Please keep Past President Keith Smith in your thoughts and prayers.  Keith is recovering from a stroke and vascular surgery.  He is at home and says he is recovering well.