LUMBERYARDS

Builder confidence rises for July

BY Brae Canlen

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose six points for July on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the largest one-month gain recorded by the index in nearly a decade, and brings the HMI to its highest point — 35 — since March 2007.

"Builder confidence increased by solid margins in every region of the country in July as views of current sales conditions, prospects for future sales and traffic of prospective buyers all improved," said Barry Rutenberg, NAHB’s chairman and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. "This is greater evidence that the housing market has turned the corner as more buyers perceive the benefits of purchasing a newly built home while interest rates and prices are so favorable." 

NAHB chief economist David Crowe noted that “[Housing] is returning to its more traditional role of leading the economy out of recession." Although the housing industry is still in a fragile state of recovery, he said, key indicators have shown upward movement over the past six months.

"This is particularly encouraging at a time when other parts of the economy have begun to show softness, and is all the more reason that the challenges constraining housing’s recovery — namely overly tight lending conditions, poor appraisals and the flow of distressed properties onto the market — need to be resolved," Crowe said.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for the past 25 years, 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 then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number higher than 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Every HMI component recorded gains in July. The components gauging current sales conditions and traffic of prospective buyers each rose six points, to 37 and 29, respectively, while the component gauging sales expectations for the next six months rose 11 points to 44.

Likewise, every region posted HMI gains in July. The Northeast registered an eight-point gain to 36, while the Midwest gained three points to 34, the South gained five points to 32, and the West gained 12 points to 44.

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LBM trade group partners with Schaffer Associates

BY Brae Canlen

Building Product Retailers Alliance (BPRA), a coalition of LBM trade groups, and Schaffer Associates, an executive recruitment and human resources firm, have formed a partnership to help BPRA members recruit new staff members to replace those lost during the housing bust. 

“In talking with our members, their primary concerns are having the financial and staffing resources to handle an increase in business,” said Larry Adams, president of the Southern Building Material Association. “The [BPRA] executive committee has spent hours discussing how our regional and state trade associations can help their members satisfy these needs. One of our decisions was to leverage the aggregated membership of seven associations to the benefit of the individual member. Carrying forward this decision, we have endorsed Schaffer Associates to help our members recruit outstanding employees.”   

Located in Charlotte, N.C., Schaffer Associates specializes in building human resource infrastructure through acquisition, retention and development. Chairman Jim Schaffer has more than 40 years of experience in the building supply channel.

The BPRA consists of the Construction Suppliers Association, Florida Building Material Association, Illinois Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, Kentucky Building Material Association, Northwestern Lumber Association, Southern Building Material Association and the Western Building Material Association. Their mission is to help companies doing business in the building supply channel develop services and products that make them more effective, efficient and less prone to liability.

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Lumberyard fire: 30 firefighters, 9 engines, little damage

BY Brae Canlen

A fire that broke out on July 14 at Padula Lumber in Coyote, Calif., brought 30 firefighters, nine fire engines and two trucks to contain the blaze, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News. One building was gutted and another seriously damaged, the newspaper reported. But owner Doug Morse told Home Channel News that the extent of the damage was pretty minimal. 

“My [delivery] truck got burnt up, and one of the metal boxes we use for storage,” he reported. No buildings were damaged, however. A tenant on the property who makes furniture out of recycled and reclaimed wood did suffer some losses, however.

Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Morse said there was some speculation about the involvement of a transient on the nearby railroad tracks.

As for the overwhelming response to the early morning incident, Morse explained that Coyote, located in an unincorporated area near San Jose, seems to be in several fire districts. At least four jurisdictions responded to the emergency call, he said.

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