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Graff bolsters sales team

BY HBSDealer Staff

Graff, a manufacturer of precision-engineered contemporary products for the bath and kitchen, tapped Susan Laursdorf to join the North American sales team. 

Lauersdorf re-joins Graff in a new role where she will be focusing on developing and expanding relationships with showrooms, sales reps, designers and contractors. Previously, she had been working with Graff as a sales coordinator where she aimed to expand the Graff brand and supported other sales projects and initiatives.

Lauersdorf will also oversee the company’s showroom displays as well as manage other sales-related projects to ensure growth.

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Pending home sales hold steady

BY HBSDealer Staff

Pending home sales rose slightly in September and are now above year-over-year levels for the first time in 11 months, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, inched  0.3% to 105.0 in September from 104.7 in August, and is now 1.0% higher than September 2013 (104.0). The index is above 100 for the fifth consecutive month and is at the second-highest level since last September.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says moderating price growth and sustained inventory levels are keeping conditions favorable for buyers.

“Housing supply for existing homes was up in September 6% from a year ago, which is preventing prices from rising at the accelerated clip seen earlier this year,” he said. “Additionally, the current spectacularly low mortgage rates should help more buyers reach the market.”

Despite improved housing conditions and low interest rates, tight credit conditions continue to be a barrier for some buyers. Of the reasons for not closing a sale, about 15% of Realtors in September reported having clients who could not obtain financing as the reason for not closing. 

Yun says the final rule on Qualified Residential Mortgages should improve access to credit once it goes into effect next year. “The rule provides clarity for lenders and is a win for creditworthy consumers by ensuring they continue to have access to safe and affordable loan products without overly burdensome downpayment requirements,” he said.

The PHSI in the Northeast increased 1.2% to 87.5 in September, and is now 2.9% above a year ago. In the Midwest the index decreased 1.2% to 101.2 in September, and is now 4.0% below September 2013. Pending home sales in the South increased 1.4% to an index of 118.5 in September, and is 1.7% above last September. The index in the West inched back 0.8% in September to 101.3, but is still 3.6% above a year ago.

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Armstrong earnings drop in Q3

BY HBSDealer Staff

Armstrong World Industries, a designer and manufacturer of floors and ceilings based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, reported a slight decline in third-quarter sales.

The company said lower volumes in Europe and in resilient and wood flooring in the Americas more than offset favorable price and mix. 

Net sales of $728.3 million were down 0.2% from the third quarter last year. Net income was $31.8 million, down from $55.9 million a year ago.

"While earnings met our expectations, sales came in below our previous guidance range, driven by a number of factors that negatively impacted volumes in the third quarter," said Matt Espe, CEO.  "Although the macroeconomic environment weakened slightly versus our previous outlook, primarily in U.S. residential and Europe, softer market conditions only partially contributed to the volume declines, as we saw industry wide capacity utilization challenges resulting in increased competitive price pressure in our European flooring business, for which we continue to evaluate strategic alternatives.”

He added that customers moved away from traditional vinyl products faster than anticipated, negatively impacting North American residential resilient business.

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