LUMBERYARDS

PulteGroup exec named Mortgage Bankers Association chairman-elect

BY HBSDealer Staff

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based PulteGroup has announced that Pulte Mortgage president and CEO Debra Still was named chairman-elect of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) at its 98th Annual Convention & Expo in Chicago this week. She currently serves as vice chairman of the MBA and will become chairman of the 2012-2013 MBA board.

Still has more than three decades of experience in the mortgage industry. During her time at Pulte Mortgage, she has served as EVP production, a member of the board of directors and corporate secretary, chief operating officer, and her current position as president and CEO.

She previously served as chair of MBA’s Residential Board of Governors and is a member of the association’s board of directors. An MBA member for more than a decade, she also served on the MBA’s Strategic Planning Committee, Loan Origination Task Force, Affordable Housing Committee and Secondary and Capital Markets Committee, and was Chair of the MBA Forward Task Force.

"Deb is a highly regarded and valued member of PulteGroup’s senior management team and a recognized expert in the mortgage industry," said PulteGroup Chairman, president and CEO Richard Dugas Jr. "Given her technical expertise and the high-standards she sets for herself as well as those surrounding her, Deb is well-suited to help guide the MBA and address major issues facing the mortgage industry today."

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KB Home puts “earth first,” receives LEED award

BY HBSDealer Staff

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has honored KB Home’s Primera Terra community with a 2011 LEED for Homes award. The LEED Platinum project, one of the largest in California, was recognized as the best in the Multi-Family category.

Primera Terra, which loosely translates to "earth first,” is made up of 52 luxury condominiums. The homes, equipped with energy- and water-saving features, are at least 40% more energy-efficient than typical new homes, according to KB Home. The estimated heating and cooling costs of the homes in Primera Terra — part of Playa Vista, a pedestrian-friendly master-plan community — are as little as $57 per month in select models.

KB Home achieved a high level of efficiency by focusing on optimizing the building envelope and incorporating such features as a cool roof. Built-in, energy-saving features include tankless water heaters, Energy Star-qualified appliances and lighting, high-efficiency windows and WaterSense labeled faucets and toilets. All homeowners also receive an energy monitoring system, which tracks electricity usage on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, from any computer or Web-enabled mobile device.

"KB Home’s Primera Terra should serve as an example to other builders that completing a LEED Platinum project does not have to mean a significant increase in construction costs," said Nate Kredich, VP residential market development, USGBC. "We commend KB Home for continuing to be an innovator through its commitment to building high-performing, healthy homes that save homeowners money."

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UFP continues cost cutting, posts profit

BY Ken Clark

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Universal Forest Products posted third-quarter net earnings of $5.6 million, up from net earnings of $2.6 million in the same quarter last year.

Net sales of $468.9 million in the third quarter of 2011 were down 2.4% from net sales of $480.6 million for the same period of last year.

"Our cost-cutting efforts and a more stable lumber market helped us generate a stronger profit in the quarter," said CEO Matthew Missad. "Our sales suffered from a stagnant economy, which is likely to remain weak for the near term. Since we can’t rely on an improved economy to grow our business, we are pursuing other avenues of growth."

The company grew sales in three of its five markets: commercial construction and concrete forming, industrial, and manufactured housing. The residential construction and retail building materials markets continue to be soft and saw sales decline in the third quarter of 2011 compared with a year ago.

Residential construction was down 17% from the same quarter last year. The company said it remained focused on multi-family projects and pointed to stats suggesting the wisdom of this strategy. Single-family housing starts were down 1.7% June through August 2011, compared with June through August 2010. On the other hand, multi-family starts increased 28.1% in the same period over 2010.

Missad noted that the company remains financially strong and is well positioned to weather a tough economy, even through the typically weak winter months. "If current forecasts are accurate, we believe significant overcapacity exists in the markets we serve," he said. "We expect that many companies will struggle to make it through the winter, and we remain poised for opportunities to consolidate our markets and improve our value to our customers and our shareholders."

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