More people, more stories
It’s a people business. That’s why HBSDealer’s editor in chief has vowed the following New Year’s resolution: Talk to more people (the more interesting the better), and tell more of their stories in the print and digital pages of HBSDealer.
On cue, into my office walks LBM editor Andy Carlo, HBSDealer’s newest hire. Carlo and I worked together in the early 2000s at what was then Home Channel News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, before he left — “blown by such winds as scatters young men throughout the world, to seek their fortunes farther than at home,” as Shakespeare said.
How’s it feel to be back?
It’s like going home again, but at the same time it’s a breath of fresh air. Many things have changed since I was last at Home Channel News. There’s a much greater digital focus than 10 years ago, and social media was pretty much non-existent.
In the early 2000s, you were on the cover of a special issue on Lowe’s in the parking lot of a Lowe’s store in upstate New York. You were dressed like a Lowe’s employee. Remember that?
A brutally cold day.
In a recent interview, you asked an industry leader to list his favorite dive bars? Is that going to be one of your recurring questions?
Depends on who I am interviewing. In an industry where deals get done with a phone call or handshake, sometimes it’s applicable. If you’ve been to a good number of industry events you know that this industry knows how to have a good time and that frequently takes place at the bar once the work is done.
As Neil Young said, “See the losers in the best bars, meet the winners in the dives. Where the people are the real stars, all the rest of their lives.”
This column will quote Neil Young and William Shakespeare. What do you think of that?
When we worked together last go around, you were a single man. Now you’re a father of two. Does it affect your reporting?
I have to get things done much more quickly and thoroughly during my “on” hours. Once the kids are home from daycare, they can be ruthless in putting me on their clock. It becomes full-on DadLife. But it’s all for the good — children are a miracle and astonish me one way or another every single day.
HBSDealer Stock Watch: Bulls roar back
Industry stocks bounced pack into positive territory on Thursday, as 28 of the 30 public companies on the HBSDealer Stock Watch turned in gains. HBP led the rally, increasing 5.59%, while BXC was up 4.03%.
Survey says: home size unchanged
The lack of affordable, buildable lots and the scarcity of labor affected home production in 2017. While starts increased by 9 percent over 2016, the characteristics of these new homes stayed largely the same, according to survey results from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released today during a press conference at the NAHB International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla.
The average home size, at 2,622 square feet in 2016, was essentially unchanged in 2017, averaging 2,627 square feet. Forty-six percent had four bedrooms or more compared to 45 percent in 2016; 37 percent had three full baths or more compared to 35 percent in 2016.
Housing availability and affordability remain a serious issue, and it's reflected in these findings, said Rose Quint, assistant vice president of survey research for NAHB.
Further, 65 percent of those surveyed don't believe it's going to get any easier in 2018. Seventy-nine percent of these prospective buyers can only afford half the homes in their markets, Quint said. "These potential buyers see a problem with housing availability. They know it's a tough nut to crack, but they are not deterred. They are still planning to buy a house in the next 12 months."
Homes built in 2018 will most likely include a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, separate laundry room, a great room, nine-foot ceilings on the main floor and granite kitchen counters. They are also very likely to contain energy-efficient features such as low-E windows and Energy Star-certified appliances and windows, the survey said.
Home owners are staying in their homes longer than they used to – about 12-13 years, on average – and they are anxious to make changes. Traditional Home executive editor Jill Waage and Better Homes and Gardens home design editor Amy Panos say their surveys show that 80 percent of respondents – female home owners – say they want to make some home improvements in 2018, from freshening up their paint colors (48 percent) and changing their flooring (43 percent) to making improvements in the kitchen, bathroom or outdoor spaces. Those are the top five renovation projects anticipated by survey respondents this year, whether that home is now owned by a "mainstream" (defined as an income of less than $125,000 per year) or a "luxury" buyer.
Mainstream buyers are much more likely to tackle do-it-yourself projects and make compromises, such as choosing cost over quality, to get results: brightly painted kitchen cabinets and big-box lighting solutions rather than custom installations. They place a premium on energy-efficiency improvements, likely because they live in older homes with outdated heating systems.
The "luxury" owner is looking at high-end outdoor fireplaces and furniture, a bathroom renovation that includes a spa shower or expansive, free-standing bathtub and a kitchen with all the bells and whistles, like built-in wine coolers and warming ovens.
One trend that Better Homes and Gardens is watching, Waage and Panos say, is the great room. A staple of new home design for more than 30 years, the combined kitchen, dining and family room may be losing some steam. Whether that pans out into more separate and defined living spaces is unclear, and it's too soon to tell, they said.
Meanwhile, there is a potential market for "tiny houses." The NAHB survey found that 53 percent of respondents might consider purchasing a home of 600 square feet or less in size – at some point in their lifetimes. More Gen Xers and millennials are open to the idea than baby boomers and seniors.