Builder confidence rises in September
Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes rose for the first time in seven months in September, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).
The index, released Sept. 16, rose two points to 18 — up from its record low of the previous two months. All three of the HMI’s component indexes, which measure current sales conditions, traffic of prospective buyers and sales expectations for the next six months, showed gains.
NAHB president Sandy Dunn, a home builder from Point Pleasant, W.Va., attributed the rise to builder optimism. “Many are sensing that home sales are nearing a turning point with the support of the newly enacted first-time home buyer tax credit,” Dunn said. “Meanwhile, with the government’s explicit backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now assured, this should help keep mortgage rates at very favorable levels going forward.”
All regions also posted some degree of improvement in the September HMI, with the Midwest, South and West each up two points, to 15, 22 and 12, respectively. The Northeast posted a six-point gain to 22.
Alameda merchants fight against new Orchard Supply
The approval for a new Orchard Supply Hardware in Alameda, Calif., is being appealed and will go before the Alameda City Council on Sept. 16, according to a report in the Alameda Journal.
The Planning Board gave approval in July for the Orchard Supply to be established at Alameda Towne Centre in a former Safeway, with the size of the building being increased by 1,500 square feet to 38,730 square feet. Also in the plans is an outdoor garden center on the north side of the building, as well as a 35-foot front parapet, new landscaping, benches and bicycle racks.
The appeal — filed on behalf of two local hardware stores, two nurseries and a private citizen — claims that the Orchard Supply would undercut local hardware stores and cause increased traffic and pollution.
“It directly impacts the local economy and shifts tax dollars from local merchants to Orchard Supply,” said Phillip Jaber, owner of Encinal Hardware, one of the appellants. “I think we would be more apt to compete with a Home Depot. Orchard is treading right on our playing field, taking our gravy items away — those widgets you sell once or twice a year that help you stay connected to the owners of older homes in town.”
The push to open the new Orchard Supply comes from Harsch Investment Properties, which owns Alameda Towne Centre and wants to increase the number of anchor businesses there. Among the anchor businesses already open are Trader Joe’s and Borders book store.
Orchard Supply Hardware, which is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., has 86 hardware and garden retail stores throughout California.
Hardwarehouse stores to close
Hardwarehouse, a pair of Ace Hardware stores in Cayce and Lexington, S.C., will close their doors on Oct. 10 after 25 years, according to The State, a Columbia, S.C.-based publication.
Hardwarehouse is known in Lexington County for its large outdoor departments that cater to hunters and fishermen. However, a slumping economy and competition from large retailers forced owner Dan Rhoads to close the businesses, The State reported.
Rhoads closed the stores for five days in early September to mark down prices and invited loyal customers to a private sale on Sept. 10. On Sept. 12, the sale expanded to the general public, and it will continue until the stores close, Rhoads said.
The two stores employ 42 people, The State reported.