HD tests commerce-enabled ads
Home Depot is running a mobile ad campaign that allows consumers to click on ads to make a direct purchase, according to an article in Mobile Commerce Daily.
The ads, which are focused on flooring products, runs with Pandora’s iPhone application. The Atlanta retailer also has several different banner ads running that advertise the flooring promotion. One reads: “Top-quality tile at prices that’ll floor you.” Others promote specific brands of flooring.
By tapping on the ads, users are taken to homedepot.com to view the retailer’s flooring options, brands, prices and product ratings. Consumers can also make purchases directly via their mobile devices.
Those in a hurry to pick up their purchases can enter their zip codes to find the nearest Home Depot store, or use their device’s own GPS system.
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Government study faults home appraisal process
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a recent study on the effectiveness of real estate appraisals, found that the Appraisal Subcommittee, which oversees the regulatory programs established by the states, has not adequately performed its duties because of underfunding and other problems.
The GAO’s findings only underscored what the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has been shouting from the rooftops: Faulty appraisals have been sabotaging home sales at a time when the housing market can least afford it.
In a Web-based survey conducted from June 2011 to July 2011, the GAO examined state appraiser regulatory agency representatives from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. It found that the Appraisal Subcommittee had not, for example, established a complaint hotline to receive complaints over noncompliance with appraisal independence standards or grievances from appraisers, individuals or other entities over attempts to improperly influence appraisers or the appraisal process. Nor had the subcommittee provided grants to state regulatory agencies as stipulated by the Dodd-Frank Act.
"These findings underscore the need to establish an effective oversight system to ensure that appraisals accurately reflect true market values and don’t harm aspiring home buyers or builders," said NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev.
A recent NAHB survey showed that one out of three builders have lost signed sales contracts because of flawed appraisals, and a fall survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors showed that 18% of realtors reported a recent contract cancellation or delay as a result of a low appraisal.
Observing that "the critical role of real estate appraisals in mortgage underwriting underscores the importance of effective regulation of the appraisal industry," the GAO study recommended that the Appraisal Subcommittee develop specific policies and procedures for monitoring the appraisal requirements of the federal financial institutions regulators.
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NAHB emphasizes growth in single-home starts
Although total starts declined, last week’s construction data from the U.S. Commerce Department showed the third-straight month of single-family gains.
The National Association of Home Builders emphasized the positive trends occurring in the single-family market. Nationwide production of new single-family homes rose 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 470,000 units in December, according to the data.
The report "adds to the growing evidence that demand for new, single-family homes is finally starting to firm up in an increasing number of markets nationwide,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nev. “This emerging trend is allowing builders to put more crews back to work, and could be even stronger if not for the overly tight credit conditions that prevail for both builders and buyers, as well as the continuing foreclosure crisis and the challenges of obtaining accurate appraisal values on new homes. Policymakers should be doing everything possible to alleviate these problems and nurture the fledgling housing recovery in order to promote job and economic growth.”
This marked a third consecutive increase and the fastest pace of single-family housing starts since April of 2010. Meanwhile, the overall number of housing starts for the month declined 4.1 percent to a 657,000-unit rate due to a 20.4 percent dip on the more volatile multifamily side.
“This report is in keeping with our expectations for slow but steady improvement in the single-family market, where production hit its lowest yearly rate in over 50 years in 2011,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Meanwhile, it should be noted that the decline in multifamily starts in December was coming off a dramatic increase from the previous month and simply brought that sector back closer to trend. Apartment production generally continues to gain strength heading into 2012 after posting a more-than 50 percent gain in 2011.” Looking forward, NAHB is forecasting gains of approximately 17 percent in both single- and multifamily housing production in 2012.
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