Builder confidence falls in July
Ongoing concerns about the subprime lending market and a surplus of unsold homes have led to reports of lower builder confidence, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
According to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, confidence declined four points to 24, the index’s lowest level since January 1991. Scores from three component indexes are used to calculate the seasonally adjusted index, where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.
“The bottom line is that the single-family housing market is still in a correction process following the historic and unsustainable highs of the 2003 to 2005 period,” said NAHB chief economist David Seiders. “Builders are actively trimming prices and offering buyer incentives to work down their inventories, but meanwhile there is a large supply of vacant existing homes on the market, and affordability problems persist despite efforts to attract buyers.
All four regions of the country reported declines in the index in July. The Northeast and South each saw five-point declines, to 31 and 26, respectively, while the Midwest slipped a single point to 19 and the West declined three points to 25.
Orchard Supply appoints new chief marketing officer
Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH), the San Jose, Calif.-based home and garden retailer with 85 locations throughout California, appointed Thomas Carey as chief marketing officer, effective July 23.
Carey will focus on driving customer satisfaction, target marketing and managing print and broadcast advertising, the company said.
“Carey will enable us to get closer to our customers,” said OSH president and CEO Rob Lynch. “His vision and breadth of knowledge in consumer segmentation and relationship management will enhance customer loyalty, building on the solid reputation that OSH has earned for excellence over the past 76 years.”
Carey has more than 12 years of senior marketing and advertising experience with both apparel and home improvement retailers. Most recently, he served as senior vp-marketing with West Marine, of Watsonville, Calif. Prior to that, he held various positions at Goody’s Family Clothing, Sunglass Hut International, Bloomingdale’s and Builders Square. Carey also spent 12 years of his early career with various marketing and advertising agencies, including Ogilvy & Mather, N.W. Ayer Advertising and Young & Rubicam Advertising.
“His deep experience with print and broadcast advertising and multichannel marketing, including Internet, will also help raise OSH’s profile among its target audience,” Lynch said.
Consumers prefer contractor referrals
A national survey of homeowners who have hired contractors for home improvement projects showed a strong preference for personal recommendations, with 42 percent using a contractor they found through a family or friend. Another 28 percent hired someone they had used on previous projects, while 7 percent found contractors through the Yellow Pages.
Retailers who provide installation services were utilized by 7 percent of the respondents. But overall, respondents gave home improvement stores low marks for project satisfaction. Only the Yellow Pages ranked slightly lower when comparing project satisfaction to how the contractor was found.
“Surprisingly, those who used a home improvement store-provided contractor did about the same as those who used advertising as the way they found their contractor,” said Fred Miller, president of Consumer Specialists, a marketing consulting firm based in Germantown, Tenn. He noted that independent referrals got the highest satisfaction ratings from survey respondents.
The full study, called “In the Beginning,” looks at how homeowners approach the critical starting period in home improvement projects and what resources they utilize.