Builder confidence unchanged
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes stayed at the same level for the fourth consecutive month in February, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo House Market Index (HMI).
"While builders are starting to see more interest among potential home buyers, we are also dealing with a multitude of challenges, including competition from foreclosure properties and inaccurate appraisals of new homes, which are limiting our ability to sell," said NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. "On top of that, an extremely tight lending environment continues to make it almost impossible to obtain credit for viable new and existing projects, and most do not see that situation improving anytime soon."
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 over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.
The overall index number for February was 16. But two of three of the HMI’s component indexes edged slightly upward in February. The component gauging current sales conditions improved by two points to 17, while the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months rose a single point to 25. Meanwhile, the component gauging traffic of prospective buyers held unchanged at 12.
On a regional basis, HMI scores were mixed in February, with gains reported in two parts of the country and declines in two others. The Northeast registered a two-point gain to 22, the South posted a one-point gain to 18, the Midwest posted a one-point decline to 12, and the West posted a two-point decline to 13.
Activant, LMC extend agreement
Activant Solutions Inc. and Lumbermens Merchandising Corp. (LMC) have announced an expansion of their 20-year marketing relationship, which will offer the building materials co-op access to the Activant Eagle system and the Activant Catalyst platform. More than half of LMC’s 360 members run their businesses on Activant Solutions, according to the announcement.
The Wayne, Pa., buying group has also actively embarked on an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) 820 initiative, designed to encourage the use of EDI technology to share remittance advice information across businesses.
“We are working closely with Activant to advance the use of EDI and other technologies that improve efficiencies for our dealers and LMC, while improving communications and lowering overall operating costs,” said Dave Gonze, senior VP finance and technology for LMC.
NLBMDA publishes 2011 National Policy Agenda
The National Lumber and Building Material Association’s (NLBMDA’s) released its 2011 National Policy Agenda. The document reflects an effort to spur new home construction by mitigating federal red tape and encouraging banks to renew lending activity.
The association’s agenda includes statements on housing, legal reform, workforce policy, tax policy, product supply, transportation and energy.
"With Congress kicking off the 112th Congress already focused on reviewing and possibly eliminating burdensome regulations, the NLBMDA stands ready to work with policymakers to roll back the red tape and costly mandates that have hampered our economic recovery," said Joe Collings, NLBMDA chairman and CEO of Ferguson Lumber in Rockville, Ind. "It is essential that Congress focus on job creation and sound fiscal policies that will restore housing as the cornerstone to our strong national economy. We look forward to working with Congress to pass common-sense, pro-growth policies that will put the building supply industry and our national economy back on the path to recovery."
In a statement, the NLBMDA also said it will continue to advance pro-business policies that will strengthen small businesses and protect the many multi-generational family-owned businesses in the industry.