LUMBERYARDS

Home sales slip in July, according to NAR

BY Brae Canlen

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has reported a 1.3% decline in pending home sales in July, as measured by signed contracts for the sale of existing homes. All regions show monthly declines except for the West, which continues to show the highest level of sales contract activity.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) for July 2011 did rise above last July’s number by 14.4%, however. 

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20% of transactions for existing-home sales, according to the NAR. The PHSI in the Northeast declined 2.0% to 67.5 in July but is 9.7% above July 2010. In the Midwest, the index slipped 0.8% to 79.1 in July but is 18.8% above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South fell 4.8% to an index of 94.4 but are 9.5% higher than July 2010. In the West, the index rose 3.6% to 110.8 in July and is 20.6% above a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales activity is underperforming. "The market can easily move into a healthy expansion if mortgage underwriting standards return to normalcy," he said. "We also need to be mindful that not all sales contracts are leading to closed existing-home sales. Other market frictions need to be addressed, such as assuring that proper comparables are used in appraisal valuations and streamlining the short sales process."

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John Crowe named CEO of both CertainTeed and Saint-Gobain

BY Ken Clark

Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest building materials company, has announced the appointment of John Crowe as president and CEO of Saint-Gobain Corp. in North America and CertainTeed Corp.

According to Crowe, the move comes at a time when the company is investing in research and innovation across all its businesses to improve buildings, making them more efficient, durable, sustainable and healthy.  

“Within CertainTeed, we’ve already developed sustainable building products that reduce noise, improve air quality, save energy and more,” Crowe said. “Within the broader Saint-Gobain family of companies, we’re developing innovative solutions such as substrates for LED and OLED sustainable lighting, as well as intelligent, energy-efficient glass that automatically switches from clear to tinted."

The company is also investing in solar power initiatives.

"My role is to help keep Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed at the forefront of this wave of innovation, while continuing to serve our customers with the high-quality, sustainable building products they need today," said Crowe, who takes on these two roles effective Sept 1. 

As president and CEO of Saint-Gobain Corp., Crowe will act as Saint-Gobain’s representative in North America, overseeing the company’s North American businesses and chairing the company’s Executive Committee.  In this role, he succeeds Gilles Colas, who will return to Saint-Gobain’s Paris headquarters as SVP in charge of global strategic developments.

In addition, Crowe will assume operational responsibility for CertainTeed, following in the footsteps of Peter Dachowski, who will retire as president and CEO on Aug. 31, after 35 years of service in a wide variety of senior leadership roles at Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed.

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USG to close nine locations

BY Brae Canlen

USG Corp., a manufacturer of Sheetrock and other building materials, will close eight of its L&W Supply distribution branches by the end of the third quarter, according to an Aug. 25 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Chicago–based company will also shutter its Nevada custom door and frame business.

USG will record charges of approximately $7 million to $8 million in the current and future fiscal quarters related to these closures, the SEC filing said. The company expects to incur cash expenditures of approximately $6 million to $7 million in the current and future fiscal quarters in connection with the closures.

The locations of the L&W Supply branches slated for closure were not revealed.

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