Meritage sees significant rise in home orders
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based home builder Meritage Homes Corp. said home orders are on the rise.
The company received orders for a total of 784 homes in July and August 2012, net of cancellations, compared with 590 net orders in the same two months of 2011, a 33% increase.
July orders of 374 homes in 2012 were up 17% over July 2011, while August orders of 410 homes in 2012 were 52% higher than August 2011.
As of June 30, 2012, the company had 151 actively selling communities in 15 metropolitan areas, including Northern California, East Bay/Central Valley and Southern California, Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Tucson, Las Vegas, Denver, Orlando, Tampa and Raleigh-Durham.
In 2012, Meritage also announced its entry into the Charlotte market.
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California passes new lumber tax
A proposed 1% additional sales tax on selected lumber products was signed into California law by Gov. Gerry Brown on Sept. 11, resulting in a transfer of fees from the timber industry to retail lumber sellers.
The new tax will be used to fund the regulatory activities of four state agencies involved in reviewing and monitoring timber harvest plans that are required for all private and public timber cutting. Currently, those costs are paid by the landowners and from state general fund expenditures.
The new tax originated with legislation supported by the California timber industry, which wanted the fees to be passed on to the end user to help level the playing field with timber producers outside California. These timber producers are not subject to California’s heavy regulations, it argued, and thus enjoy a competitive advantage. The new California law will also lessen wildfire liability for landowners, another cost saving.
Those who opposed the legislation — a group that included Home Depot, the National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), and the West Coast Lumber & Building Materials Association (formerly the Lumber Association of California and Nevada or LACN) — believed that the timber industry should not shift the fees to its own customers.
“Those who are being regulated should pay their own fees and build that into the cost of production,” said Ken Dunham, executive director of the West Coast Lumber & Building Materials Association. Dunham also wondered how lumber retailers build a framework to collect taxes on lumber and engineered wood products by Jan. 1, 2013. “Sales tax in California does not break out lumber,” Dunham told Home Channel News. “The [independent lumberyards] say there is no way they can have the software in place in time.”
Lastly, there is the issue of exactly what “lumber products” and “engineered wood products” will be taxed. The California Board of Forestry & Fire Protection is scheduled to discuss this issue at a Sept. 12 hearing.
The new law does contain an unusual provision that promises to reimburse the retailer for costs associated with the costs of collection of the assessment. The amount and process will be determined by the State Board of Equalization. Dunham remained skeptical. “When is the check coming?” he asked.
Wolf to keynote the EBMDA event in Hershey, Pa.
Delivering a keynote speech at the Eastern Building Material Dealers Association (EBMDA) in Hershey, Pa., Oct. 3 will be Tom Wolf, CEO of WOLF, the kitchen cabinets and building products distributor.
Wolf will be speaking on the strengths and unique relevance of the independent dealer in today’s challenging housing marketplace. The sixth generation leader of The Wolf Organization, Wolf brings exceptional leadership and management expertise to the conference.
Wolf holds degrees from Dartmouth College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of London. He served as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Revenue from 2007 to 2008. He gave up a viable 2010 gubernatorial candidacy to take the leadership of his family’s company.
“The expertise of Tom Wolf and Rick Davis will be a valuable addition to all our conference attendees,” says David Garrett, executive director, EBMDA. “We’re fortunate to have them as part of our event, especially given the volatility of the industry.”
In addition to Wolf’s presentation, the conference, named Rebuild Your Business, will feature a mini trade show and two workshops on leadership and management led by award-winning writer and columnist Rick Davis.
All parts of the conference, including the golf outing at Hershey Country Club, are open to all members and non-members of the building materials distribution community.
For more information and instruction on how to register for the conference, contact the EBMDA at (800) 670-4103 or visit the EBMDA site.
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