Thursday, February 12, 2015

Verizon: Save $100 when you activate a 4G LTE device until March 31

Members will receive a $100 instant discount when you activate or renew a select 4G LTE device (on 2-year plans of $24.99 or higher). This offer is good until March 31, 2015.

Devices include:
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4
  • Motorola Droid Turbo and Droid Maxx (16GB)
  • Kyocera Brigadier and Blackberry Q10
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1
  • Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE 6620 Mobile Hotspot
There is also a Bill Incentive Credit of $100 when you activate a 4G LTE smartphone or 3G iPhone 4S on a $34.99 or higher plan of 2-years. (The Bill Incentive Credit does not apply to renewals, which was incorrectly stated in a previous promotional email.) This offer expires March 31, 2015.

And if you bring your number to Verizon from another carrier, you will receive a $150 Bill Incentive Credit per smartphone on activations of $34.99 or higher plans of 2-years. Offer available through February 28, 2015.

If you would like to discuss your NPP membership, feel free to contact us directly at 800.810.3909 or email at

More Stringent Wood Heater Requirements on the Way

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a new standard that sets more stringent emissions requirements for wood-burning stoves. For the first time, the standard also covers hydronic heaters, indoor wood-fired forced-air furnaces and single burn-rate woodstoves.

Proposed emissions standards for masonry heaters were not included in the final rule. It is also important to note that the standard does not apply to devices already installed and in house, nor does it cover fireplaces, fire pits, pizza ovens, barbecues or chimineas.

EPA expects to see a notable drop in emissions once the rule is fully in place. Fine particle and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions should go down by about 70% while carbon monoxide emissions are estimated to be 62% lower.

To allow manufacturers sufficient time to transition to the new standards and comply with emissions testing requirements, EPA is requiring work practice standards beginning on Feb. 3 and phasing in the new emission limits over five years.

The exact timing of and Step 1 emission limits vary by furnace type and size. However, all heaters must meet the Step 2 emissions limits within five years after the final rule is published, or 2020.

This is the first time EPA has revised the clean air standard for residential wood heaters since it was first adopted in 1988. EPA has more information about controlling air pollution from residential wood heaters.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How the President's Proposed Budget Affects Home Builders

President Obama on Feb. 2 unveiled a nearly $4 trillion fiscal 2016 budget proposal that includes $650 billion in tax increases to pay for infrastructure and tax breaks geared toward middle class households. The administration is also proposing to eliminate sequestration and increase non-defense and defense discretionary spending. To pay for this, the White House is proposing $1.8 trillion in tax hikes and other offsets and savings, including $400 billion in healthcare expenditure reductions.

We have heard the pundits discuss the proposal, mostly in terms of the political impact.  But how does the President's proposal affect Home Builders?

  • Proposes $49.3 billion in funding, an 8.7% increase over the fiscal 2015 approved appropriation.
  • Increases funding for the HOME program from $900 million in fiscal 2015 to $1.06 billion.
  • Decreases Community Development Block Grant funding from $3.07 billion to $2.88 billion.
  • Restores approximately 67,000 Housing Choice Vouchers lost in 2013 due to sequestration.
  • Supports a shift of Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance funding from a fiscal to a calendar year basis.
  • Estimates that FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund, which supports FHA single-family programs, will grow by $14 billion over the next two years.
  • Describes the recent decrease in the annual mortgage insurance premium for FHA-insured single-family loans from 135 to 85 basis points, which the administration estimates will allow an additional 250,000 low- and moderate-income borrowers to become home owners.
  • Business and Individual Tax Provisions
  • Limits the amount of capital gain deferred under section 1031 from the exchange of real property to $1 million (indexed for inflation) per taxpayer per taxable year.
  • Characterizes carried interest as ordinary income.
  • Recommends extending the exclusion from income for cancellation of certain home mortgage debt until the end of 2017.
  • Limits the value of certain tax expenditures to 28% of exclusions and deductions that would otherwise reduce taxable income in the 33%, 35% or 39.6% tax brackets.
  • Increases the highest long-term capital gains and qualified dividend tax rate from 20% to 24.2%. The 3.8% net investment income tax would continue to apply. The maximum total capital gains and dividend tax rate including net investment income tax would thus rise to 28%.
  • Imposes a new minimum tax, called the Fair Share Tax (FST), on high-income taxpayers. The tentative FST would equal 30% of AGI less a credit for charitable contributions.
  • Recommends increasing the estate, generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax, and gift tax top tax rate to 45% with an exclusion amount of $3.5 million for estate and GST taxes, and $1 million for gift taxes. There would be no indexing for inflation.
  • Requires a contractor receiving payments of $600 or more in a calendar year from a particular business to furnish to the business (on Form W-9) the contractor’s certified taxpayer identification number (TIN). A business would be required to verify the contractor’s TIN with the IRS.
  • Repeals Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978, which provides an explicit safe harbor for employers when classifying workers as employees or independent contractors.
Energy Tax Provisions
  • Calls for extending and updating the current 179D deduction for energy-efficient commercial buildings, including multifamily buildings.
  • Recommends extending the Section 45L tax credit for energy efficient new homes.
Low Income Housing Tax Credit Proposals
  • Allows states, based on a formula, to convert up to 18% of their private activity bond volume cap into 9% credits.
  • Allows LIHTC projects to serve individuals earning up to 80% of area median income (AMI) as long as the average income of all tenants remains no more than 60% of AMI.
  • Opposes fixing the 9% credit rate. Instead, recommends a new way to calculate the floating rate for both the present value applicable percentage and the 30% present value applicable percentage, but only with respect to allocated LIHTCs. Under the proposal, the discount rate to be used would be the average of the mid-term and long-term applicable federal rates for the relevant month, plus 200 basis points.
  • Adds the preservation of federally assisted affordable housing as an eleventh selection criterion that qualified allocation plans must include.
  • Allows HUD to designate as a qualified census tract (QCT) any census tract that meets the current statutory criteria of a poverty rate of at least 25% or 50% or more of households with an income less than 60% of AMI. That is, the proposal would remove the current limit under which the aggregate population in census tracts designated as QCTs cannot exceed 20% of the metropolitan area’s population.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Provides a 7% increase over the 2015 enacted level to $592 million.
  • Requests 40 new OSHA staff to support the investigations (i.e., inspections) resulting from the new injury reporting requirements, which require employers to report work-related hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye.
  • Emphasizes the need to strengthen worker misclassification programs, including new penalties for recordkeeping violations and a focus on “high-risk” and “fissured” industries, such as construction. The budget seeks $10 million to strengthen worker misclassification programs at the state level.
  • Calls on Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform this year. The administration supports the Senate approach taken in 2013, which includes the limitation of a workable visa plan for the construction industry.
  • Includes $2 billion for the Paid Leave Partnership Initiative to assist up to five states that wish to launch paid leave programs. Participating states would be eligible to receive funds for the initial set-up and half of the benefit costs of the program for three years. The budget also includes a $35 million State Paid Leave Fund to provide technical assistance and support to states that are still building the infrastructure they need to launch such programs in the future.
It is important to note that no Executive Budget is ever enacted “as is” by Congress and this budget may not be enacted at all because Republicans control both the House and the Senate. Given the size, cost, complexities and major policy overhauls that this blueprint entails, the battle ahead is likely to be contentious as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle debate its merits on an array of fronts — from social spending to energy policy to taxes.

Your HBA will remain deeply engaged as the budget process moves forward, fighting to strip out any provisions that will harm housing and promoting elements that will help small businesses and the housing sector.

Member Advantage Expanded to Include 2-10

2-10 HBW and your HBA's Member Advantage program have aligned to provide members exclusive discounts on specific 2-10 HBW products; Builder Backed Service Program, Front Line Warranty Services and the New Construction Home Warranty Service Agreement. All three products can be purchased as a bundle, or the Builder Backed Service Program and Front Line Warranty Services are available together, or the New Construction Home Warranty Service Agreement may be purchased separately.

The Builder Backed Service Program utilizes the National Association of Home Builders Residential Construction Performance Guidelines, and provides a platform for quick resolution of warranty coverage concerns via 2-10 HBW’s experienced and knowledgeable warranty administration team. Front Line Warranty Services makes 2-10 HBW the first point of contact for home owners and the New Construction Home Warranty Service Agreement protects home owners against major systems and appliances repairs, including parts and labor, once the manufacturer’s warranties expire.

A recent co-sponsored survey by 2-10 HBW and NAHB indicated that 90% of consumers are more likely to buy a home from a builder who offers a warranty.

Visit or call 855-280-1328 to find out more.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Radon Training Offered for Builders, Inspectors

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is offering training for building professionals and inspectors in nearby Asheville, NC.

The training session, two four-hour classes titled "HD Requirements for Multifamily Testing" and "Vapor Intrusion," are being offered on Monday, March 9.  Each class is $50.  Classes will be held at the Mountain Area Health Education Center, 121 Hendersonville Road, Asheville, NC.

The classes are part of a larger conference on Radon that runs from March 9-11, at the same location.

To register and for more information, visit

Greenville County is the only county in South Carolina that enforces the Radon portion of the Building Code, the result of the high incidence of radon in the soils in the county.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Members: Save Money on Flowers for Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Show someone how much they are appreciated this weekend with flowers or other gifts from FTD — and get 20 percent off if you are an HBA member. Order online at or call 800-SEND-FTD.

To learn more about money-saving programs for members, click here.

Top 10 Reasons 2015 will Be a Growth Year for Housing

During his briefing to our membership last week, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe cited his top 10 list that points to a more robust year for housing in 2015.  Below is Dr. Crowe's top 10 list for 2015:
  • Economic growth has improved and was near 4% in the last half of 2014.
  • Employment gains are more solid and consistent, averaging more than 250,000 per month in 2014.
  • Consumer confidence is growing and back to pre-recession levels.
  • Significant pent up demand is building: More than 7 million existing home sales have been postponed or lost since the housing downturn.
  • Home owners’ equity is rising and up in the past three years.
  • Household balance sheets are returning to normal.
  • Household income is rising and up over the past three years.
  • Mortgage availability is improving: administration and FHFA have taken steps.
  • Mortgage rates are near historic lows: Some are below 4%.
  • Inventory of available homes is increasing: New homes are up 45%, existing homes are up 16%.
The signs show that the housing recovery should move to higher ground in 2015.  Dr. Crowe expects single-family starts to increase 24% to 803,000, up from a preliminary 647,000 in 2014. Multifamily construction will level off at 365,000 up slightly from a preliminary 357,000 in 2014. Real remodeling expenditures will return to a positive year with an expected 3% rise in 2015.