New home sales down slightly in June
Sales of newly built single-family homes dipped 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 530,000 units in June from an upwardly revised pace the previous month, the Commerce Department reported July 25.
According to NAHB president Sandy Dunn, a home builder from Point Pleasant, W.Va., the weak sales numbers further demonstrate the need for the housing and economic stimulus bill, which is nearing final passage in the U.S. Senate.
“Once signed by the President, this legislation will boost confidence in the housing finance system, bring some stability to the overall market and stimulate sales as first-time buyers start taking advantage of a tax credit of up to $7,500,” Dunn said.
NAHB chief economist David Seiders said that on the positive side, the report shows that builders are making some progress on reducing the inventory of unsold units. According to the report, the inventory of new homes for sale eased down 5.3 percent in June to 426,000 units. This represented a 10-month supply at the current sales pace, compared to a 10.4-month supply in May.
Regionally, sales activity was mixed in June, with the Northeast and Midwest posting respective gains of 5.3 percent and 2.5 percent, and the South and West posting respective declines of 2 percent and 0.9 percent. All regions registered declines in the number of new homes for sale.
Midwest Hardware Association launches marketing campaign
More than 100 members of the Midwest Hardware Association (MHA) are launching an industry campaign called My Local Hardware Store, whose goal is to communicate the benefits of independent, locally owned hardware stores to customers across Wisconsin, the organization announced.
“You could call this a ‘Got Milk’ campaign for hardware stores,” said MHA president Bob Schmidt, who owns Gasser Hardware in Lancaster, Wis. “Just as milk producers promote the generic benefits of their product, we’re encouraging people to shop their locally owned, independent hardware store first.”
Commercials will air on more than 70 radio stations carrying Green Bay Packers game broadcasts and the Wisconsin Radio Network over a five-month period beginning in late July. The program also includes the launch of a new Web site, mylocalhardwarestore.com, designed to help people find the independent hardware store nearest their home with the products and services they need.
California governor signs state housing bill
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a new California law that authorizes local cities and counties to extend subdivision maps by one year. The bipartisan bill, proposed by the California Building Industry Association (CBIA), goes into effect immediately.
The downturn has put a hold on housing construction throughout the state, and dozens of subdivision maps were set to expire, according to the CBIA.
“Had these maps expired, dozens of home builders representing hundreds of housing projects would have been sent to the back of the line,” said CBIA chairman Ray Becker. Going through the government approval process again can take five to seven years, according to the CBIA.
Asecond housing recovery bill proposed by the CBIA was also passed by the California legislature last week. AB 2604 encourages local governments to defer the collection of most development impact fees until a new home sells instead of when the building permit is obtained. The bill is on its way to the governor’s desk.