NAR weighs in on Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae reform
The National Association of Realtors has submitted a position to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development, supporting increased loan limits in government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Reform to the two main government-sponsored lending organizations has been a topic of debate in light of the damaged subprime mortgage market.
Proponents of raising loan limits say it is a needed stimulus for the housing market. Opponents say giving the lending organizations a route to the “jumbo” loan market could be dangerous without additional safeguards.
Currently, a cap of $417,000 exists on loans issued by the GSEs. The NAR and other proponents of the stimulus plan support raising the GSE lending limit to $625,000.
The NAR submitted testimony to the HUD committee saying, “Fannie and Freddie are our partners in the housing industry and are important to stabilizing and strengthening the housing market.”
The group said the package could help “as many as” 500,000 jumbo loan borrowers to refinance. Additionally, the NAR says a higher rate limit could allow a large number of borrowers to enter the home buying market.
Research firm points to garage as opportunity
Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group pointed to garage storage as a home improvement category somewhat immune to the housing downturn, as well as an opportunity for home improvement retailers.
“Garage storage is somewhat immune to the current housing market downturn,” said Mark Delaney, director of NPD Group’s Home division. “It’s not like the kitchen category. Consumers who plan on redoing their garage are doing so, regardless of what the housing market is doing.”
Some of the garage storage findings from NPD Group include:
• Warehouse home centers took the lion’s share of dollars at 47 percent in the garage and storage sector. Mass merchants followed at 32 percent and department stores at 5 percent.
• The garage storage segment attracts mostly high-income male shoppers.
• During the 12 months ending October 2007, men accounted for 64 percent of the dollar share in the garage storage and organization sector.
NPD Research is based on monthly tracking of 30,000 opt-in respondents in 70 categories.
“Areas ‘outside’ the home are getting more attention and are benefiting from the trend in making visual statements out of previously simple spaces. Garage storage is one of those areas that has evolved from simple products like bike racks and tool hooks into a race to build the ultimate ‘man cave’ complete with refrigerators and flat-screen TVs,” said Delaney.
While women account for only 36 percent of the dollar share in the garage storage and organization sector, “NPD consumer research shows that women mainly shop for home improvement items within mass merchants, where items generally sell for less. Women might become a bigger piece of the pie if mass merchants begin to carry more aspirational items or if department stores and warehouse clubs adjust their marketing efforts to appeal better to women,” said Delaney.
“Garage storage is an up-and-coming category that seems somewhat recession-proof. Retailers looking to attract a higher income consumer should consider expanding their assortment in this area,” added Delaney.
ProBuild acquires Jasper Lumber
ProBuild Holdings has finalized its acquisition of Jasper Lumber, a North Atlanta-based lumber, truss and millwork business. Terms of the deal were not disclosed
The purchase includes Jasper Lumber’s Cumming, Ga.-based lumber distribution business and its Kennesaw, Ga.-based lumberyard, truss and millwork manufacturing facility.
“Jasper Lumber is an outstanding, well-run operation,” said Jim Cavanaugh, ProBuild South region president, in a statement. “This acquisition, along with the previously announced acquisition of HD Supply’s LBM operation, positions us well to serve all segments of the Atlanta market.”
Jasper Lumber was founded in 1947 in Jasper, Ga., and it relocated in 1963 to the suburbs of Atlanta. It has been operated by second- and third-generation owners Bill Adams and his son, Keith.
ProBuild Holdings is one of the nation’s largest supplier of building materials to professional contractors, with more than 520 lumber and building product distribution, manufacturing and assembly centers in 41 states.