Friday, September 30, 2016

The #1 Reason Real Estate Marketing Lacks Innovation

Ever wondered why real estate — one of America’s leading industries — lacks marketing innovation, or why new home sales and marketing professionals are so afraid to step outside their comfort zones?
“Hey, did you see that amazing new home builder in AdAge,” said no one ever. 
Well, the crux of the problem is that the real estate industry is light years behind just about every other major industry. And it’s not for a lack of technology, budgets, or smart, creative people.
So what’s the deal?
As an advertising professional who has spent nearly a decade building a thriving and successful marketing firm (often banging my head against a wall through the process), I’ve often contemplated why so many innovative ideas are rejected.
The only plausible answer I could come up with is: risk aversion. The real estate business is all about minimizing risk and limiting exposure. Did you hear that: Limiting exposure. That’s the antithesis of what great marketing should do. And therein lies the problem.
This inclination has stymied the tide of innovation. It has pushed creatives, innovators and big thinkers into a box, rather than challenging them to think bigger and be bolder.
Change seems to take a little longer in the home builder industry but it is possible. As marketing professionals, we must relentlessly pursue ideas that challenge convention and look for like-minded partners looking to lead the charge.
So this is a call to arms. To all the trailblazers, innovators and risk takers: Let’s shake things up. Let’s challenge ourselves and our teams to push the boundaries of marketing greatness. Let’s stop letting risk aversion be our compass and instead start focusing on surprising and delighting consumers.
“OMG. Home builder work is really dominating at this year’s Webbys. Not.”
After all, when it comes to advertising and communications, the biggest risk you can take is taking none at all.

Robert Galletta is managing partner at Blackjet Inc., a Toronto-based, Webby award-winning digital and design agency with extensive real estate experience. The agency’s philosophy is to be fearless; and it challenges both clients and partners to do the same. Blackjet’s work recently won five Gold awards at the 2016 Nationals in Las Vegas.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

FHFA Index Shows Mortgage Rates Decreased in August 2016

From the Federal Housing Finance Agency:

Nationally, interest rates on conventional purchase-money mortgages decreased from July to August, 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 3.58 percent for loans closed in late August, down 4 basis points from 3.62 percent in July.

The average interest rate on all mortgage loans was 3.59 percent, down 4 basis points from 3.63 in July.

The average interest rate on conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages of $417,000 or less was 3.74 percent, down 6 basis points from 3.80 in July.

The effective interest rate on all mortgage loans was 3.72 percent in August, down 5 basis points from 3.77 in July. 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 $322,700 in August, down $3,000 from $325,700 in July.

U.S. House Price Index - July 2016

From the Federal Housing Finance Agency:

The Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index reported a 0.5 percent increase in U.S. house prices in July from the previous month. From July 2015 to July 2016, house prices were up 5.8 percent. For the nine census divisions, seasonally adjusted monthly price changes from June 2016 to July 2016 ranged from +0.2 percent in the Middle Atlantic division to +1.0 percent in the East South Central division. The 12-month changes were all also positive, ranging from +2.6 percent in the Middle Atlantic division to +7.7 percent in the Pacific division.

Monthly index values and appreciation rate estimates for recent periods are provided in the table and graphs in the attachments.

FHA Proposes New Condo Approval Rules

The Federal Housing Administration  is proposing a new rule for condominium developments that the agency says is intended to be more flexible, less prescriptive and more reflective of market conditions.

The agency is proposing to reinstate spot approvals in unapproved condominium developments and require condo projects to re-certify their approval status every three years rather than the current two.

The Federal Housing Administration currently stipulates that approved condominium developments have a minimum of 50% of the units occupied by owners. To respond to future market changes, the agency is proposing to establish an allowable range between 25% and 75%.

Regarding commercial/nonresidential space within an approved condominium development, Federal Housing Administration currently requires that this should not exceed 50% of the project’s total floor area. The agency anticipates maintaining this requirement in the near term, but to achieve added flexibility Federal Housing Administration is proposing to establish a range of between 25% and 60% via subsequent notice.

View HUD’s press release and Federal Housing Administration’s proposed rule.

NAHB, Business Groups Sue to Block Overtime Rule

National Association of Home Builders and a coalition of more than 55 Texas and national business groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor seeking to halt its federal overtime rule set to take effect December 1.

Earlier this year, the Department of Labor issued the rule, which will double the current overtime salary limit of $23,660 to $47,476. It also allows the minimum salary requirements to be raised every three years.

National Association of Home Builders and many groups not in favor of the rule have warned that such a huge jump in such a short period of time could actually hurt a significant number of the workers the rule was meant to help. Many small business owners would be forced to scale back on pay and benefits, as well as cut workers’ hours.

The lawsuit filed on Sept. 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas asserts that the Department of Labor exceeded its statutory authority in issuing the regulation and violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the way federal agencies can establish regulations. The legal action seeks to bar the Department of Labor from implementing the rule. A coalition of 21 states this week also filed a separate challenge to the rule in the same court district.

National Association of Home Builders has also been leading the charge to seek a legislative solution and worked closely with Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who recently introduced bipartisan legislation to help small businesses and their workers by mitigating the effects of the overtime rule.

The Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (H.R. 5813) would allow small businesses operating on tight budgets sufficient time to adjust to the overtime rule by gradually raising the $47,476 threshold under the following timetable.
  • Dec. 1, 2016 – $35,984
  • Dec. 1, 2017 – $39,814
  • Dec. 1, 2018 – $43,645
  • Dec. 1, 2019 – $47,476

Moreover, the legislation would eliminate a provision in the rule that requires automatic increases to the overtime salary threshold moving forward. National Association of Home Builders is strongly urging Congress to swiftly pass this legislation.


National Association of Home Builders Chief Legal Officer Jim Rizzo and Home Builders Association of Greenville CEO Michael Dey will meet with Attorney General Alan Wilson in October. The lawsuit will be among the items discussed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Meet the People Who Are Training Your Next Project Manager

Join the Clemson Construction Science and Management program for their Symposium on October 18. It will take place at the Le Meridien Hotel in Charlotte, NC and feature keynote speakers and panel discussions. Continuing Education Credits are available. Please contact Roger Liska for more information or to register at

Succession Transition Webinar

The home building industry is made up mostly of entrepreneurial, family-owned businesses. Builders need to plan for the implications of a sale or transition of their businesses to the next generation of leadership.

Succession planning allows owners to adequately leave their businesses to other family members. In the Succession Transition: How to Plan for a Successful Outcome webinar, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2-3 p.m. ET, learn about the business, tax and personal considerations that should be weighed for a successful business transition or retirement. Discussion will also include what is needed to prepare your business for transition or sale.

NAHB members enjoy discounted registration rates.

Participants in this webinar will able to:
  • Examine why and how a succession plan can help you in achieving the best economic outcome for your business.
  • Identify the key factors to evaluate as you are considering exiting your business or planning for retirement.
  • Explore the actions you need to take to be best prepared for your business to be transitioned or sold.
Steve Hays, Partner-In-Charge, Home Builder Services Group, Rubinbrown LLP
Mark Jansen and Chris Coleman, Partners, Construction Services Group, Rubinbrown LLP

City has $5.5 million surplus, considers $2 million for affordable housing

From The Greenville News:

Going into the year, the city of Greenville knew its financial outlook would be bright, but as the budget forecasts now become more hard and fast, the city finds itself with millions of dollars of extra tax money to spend.

Now, it's a matter of where it should go.

The city has a $5.5 million surplus in its main fund that is supported by property taxes, and it has millions more in special, tourism-related tax funds that are all swelling along with the city's growth.

A few priorities appear to be emerging, chief among them a proposal to set aside $2 million of the surplus to pay for efforts to provide more affordable housing, particularly near downtown where real estate prices have skyrocketed.

"If we can invest money in other things, if we can assist in the development of large projects like a baseball stadium, like parking garages to help other entities come in, then there needs to be a return on the investment for those who have not had an opportunity to be a part of the economic rise," City Councilwoman Lillian Brock Flemming said.

The $2 million figure is one that Mayor Knox White said he supports, as does Councilwoman Jil Littlejohn, who along with Flemming has spearheaded an affordable housing strategy study that is nearing its completion.

There is more.

In special funds related to hospitality and hotel stays, the city has more than $5 million in surplus, which by state law must be spent on tourism-related efforts.

The surplus amounts come as the city budgeted conservatively with a suspicion that tax revenue might exceed expectations, City Manager John Castile said.

The city maintains a 20 percent reserve fund — 5 percent more than is required by law — and anything after that is considered surplus. The reserve helps the city maintain its AAA credit rating, which lowers the cost to borrow money.

The city will still borrow some money, mainly $2.7 million to pay for improvements on Verdae Boulevard.

However, $1.7 million that was to be borrowed from the city's storm-water project fund to help pay for a $25.6 million move of its public works facility will be covered through the general fund surplus instead.

The city still will devote about $5 million of money in cash from the storm-water fund for the public works move, but Councilwoman Gaye Sprague — who voted against borrowing money from the fund and lobbied for an exception that the city re-evaluate the method if a surplus emerged — said that the cash amount devoted will remain and is appropriate.

The City Council will vote on Monday to borrow the money for the fire station, but $1.7 million in borrowed storm water money won't be a part of it, which will leave $3.8 million in general surplus.

The $2 million for affordable housing would come out of that surplus, and White said it could be used to amplify city efforts to buy land and set it aside for affordable housing and to partner with the private sector in those efforts.

The affordable housing study, which over the summer has involved members of the community from various backgrounds, will wrap up this fall and will offer strategies that the mayor said will guide how the money would be spent.

"We have the strategy part under way now with the consultant study, but at the end of the day we're still going to need a commitment of funds," White said.

At the same time as the affordable housing is being done, another ongoing consultant plan for a $12.9 million park on the west side of downtown will factor in affordable housing for the community surrounding it, which faces gentrification pressure as the park gets closer to becoming a reality.

The city has at least $3 million in valuable land it owns to set aside, White said.

“We’re putting money aside, but the strategy will tell us how to get the best bang for our buck," he said.

The commitment of surplus money should involve the council getting together and setting priorities for how the money should be spent before committing to any one cause, Sprague said.

Councilwoman Amy Ryberg Doyle said that the city should use the money to focus on items that were cut during budget discussions earlier this year, such as road projects and fixing aging fire stations.

“We should look at the business that we are in and do it better," Doyle said.

For the other special funds, the city will now have to figure out how to prioritize money that has been growing each year.

The city will have about a $4 million surplus in its hospitality fund, which comes from taxes levied on prepared meals and is devoted to tourism-related projects that will run through a new application process.

The city's accommodations tax likewise has to be devoted to tourism efforts. The accommodations tax money collected through the state is administered through an advisory committee, which the city will ask to be reconvened to consider a new round of applications for its $674,663 surplus.

A portion of the accommodations tax collected by the city — with a $372,263 surplus — isn't subject to a committee.

The state accommodations money must be spent within two years of receipt.

More surplus remains from other sources, such as the parking fund, which has $3.8 million available. That money will likely be set aside to help fund new parking in the West End that should materialize during the next year, White said.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Congratulations to the Building Blocks Challenge Winners

The Building Blocks Challenge was a hit yet again at the Fall Southern Home and Garden Show. Kids ages 4-9 gathered to build their dream home using building blocks and their imaginations. Congratulations to our winners!

First Place (won an Amazon Fire Tablet with case, courtesy of ACA/Freewood Contracting)
Gianna Garcia

Second Place (won a $50 Toys"R"Us gift card, courtesy of Spencer Pest Services)
Dexter Wells

Third Place (won a $50 Toys"R"Us gift card, courtesy of Spencer Pest Services)
Emma Burgett

Most Creative (won a Mario Wii Game and Controller, courtesy of Charter Communications)
Connor Hentzschel

A special thank you to our judges for helping us pick the winners!

Mike Freeman of ACA/Freewood Contracting, APB
Ben Moseley of The Heirloom Companies
Craig DeLisle of Lauren Homes of SC, APB
Kristy Thompson of Addison Homes, APB

The challenge begins!

Our judges evaluate the entries.

Most Creative honoree Connor stands with the judges.

Third place winner Emma stands with the judges.

Second place winner Dexter stands with the judges.

First place winner Gianna stands with the judges.

The final entries.

Stoneledge Properties Presents the Home Tour of Hope

The 2016 Designer Showcase Home Tour of Hope benefiting the Cancer Society of Greenville County will offer exclusive access to the beautiful 6 bedroom, 6 bathroom estate which includes more than 9,300 square feet of living space, a separate guest house, pool and outdoor kitchen/grilling area.

Stoneledge Properties invites you to visit and enjoy their latest masterpiece as we build HOPE and improve the lives of local cancer patients and their families. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and all proceeds will benefit the Cancer Society of Greenville County. On Survivor Sundays, current and former cancer patients may tour the Home Tour of Hope free of charge from 1-5 p.m.

The tour will take place from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on October 21-23, October 28-30, and November 4-6. Visit the website to learn more.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Verizon Deals Run Out Soon

As September winds down, make sure to check out the Verizon promotions that run through the end of the month through National Purchasing Partners. All Home Builders Association of Greenville members are eligible for a National Purchasing Partners account, and the savings that result.

Receive a $100 bill credit when you activate any new 4G LTE smartphone on a 2-year plan of $34.99 or higher. This includes the new iPhone 7, which is now available through Verizon.

You can also get a minimum $100 trade-in account credit on a smartphone with the purchase and activation of any new 4G LTE smartphone. This applies to new 2-year device payment activation or renewals.

There is also great pricing on devices, ranging in cost from free for the BlackBerry Classic and Samsung Galaxy S5 (16 GB) to $99.99 for the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S6 (32 GB). This applies to a new 2-year activation or renewal on plans of $24.99 or higher.View the entire device list here.

If you would like to discuss your National Purchasing Partners membership, feel free to contact us directly at 800.810.3909 or