LUMBERYARDS

Builder confidence up one point

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved by one point in March to 17 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the highest level since May 2010, when the survey period corresponded with the final days of the federal home buyer tax credit program. 

"While many home buyers are still holding off on making a purchase, builders did indicate slightly increased optimism about the future with a two-point gain in the HMI component gauging sales expectations for the next six months," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "In fact, prevailing indicators portend some improvement in the overall economy, which should generate modest housing market gains later this year. 

“Unfortunately, most small builders report that they are no more able to obtain credit for new construction today than they have been in the past year, and this is a major impediment that is keeping them from putting their crews back to work,” he added.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores from each component are used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor. 

Two out of three of the HMI’s component indexes were unchanged in March, including the component gauging current sales conditions, which held at 17, and the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers, which held at 12. The component gauging sales expectations in the next six months rose two points to 27, its highest level since May 2010.

Regionally, HMI results were mixed. The Northeast posted a one-point decline to 20, the Midwest was flat at 12, the South gained two points to 20, and the West gained four points to 17. 

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Carolina dealer recognized for grassroots leadership

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Washington, D.C. — Chris Yenrick of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Smith Phillips Building Supply was honored Tuesday as the "Grassroots Dealer of the Year."

The award from the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) recognized Yenrick for his participation in legislative matters. The presentation was made Tuesday morning here in Washington, D.C., during the NLBMDA Legislative Conference.

In addition to playing an instrumental role in the successful national effort to promote practical boom truck and crane regulations, Yenrick was active at the state level guiding legislation, said NLBMDA chairman Joe Collings.

The award reads: "In recognition and deep appreciation for advancing the legislative priorities of the lumber and building materials industry through leadership in grassroots political involvement."

Smith Phillips is a member of Lumbermens Merchandising Corp.

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At NLBMDA’s LegCon, advice from a Hoosier congressman

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Washington, D.C. — Indiana Congressman Mike Pence told lumberyard owners gathered here that it is time to "pick a fight" for fiscal responsibility in Washington.

Pence, from Indiana’s 6th congressional district, received the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association’s (NLBMDA) Legislator of the Year award. The presentation was part of the 2011 NLBMDA Legislative Conference.

Pence was introduced by NLBMDA Chairman Joe Collings as a fellow Hoosier and lifelong advocate for fiscal responsibility. Collings added that Pence was known as a passionate conservative with a calm demeanor.

At the podium, Pence went on a calm, conservative offensive. "We need to turn the ship of state back to fiscal responsibility and limited government," he said. He cast himself as an enthusiastic opponent of those who support, in his words, "federal funding for the Cowboy Poetry Institute."

He said the current crisis facing the nation is not just economic or political, but it’s also moral in nature. "People in authority have been walking away from honesty and integrity — an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay," he said. "Truth is we have to get back to basics."

Asked for his views on government’s role in supporting housing and the mortgage interest deduction, Pence responded by describing his commitment to fundamental tax reform. He encouraged the audience to think of the bigger picture — as opposed to a special-case approach, as represented by the mortgage interest deduction. A simple flat tax, he said, would better lead to the kind of certainty that leads to investment, he said.

Pence closed his remarks with a dose of optimism supplemented by a quote from Winston Churchill: "A careful study of American history shows that after the American people have exhausted every other possibility, they always do the right thing."

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