Remodeling reaches record levels
Residential remodeling activity rose 23% in June 2011 in year-over-year comparisons, according to an index compiled by BuildFax, a national database of building permit data. It was the 20th straight month of increases and the highest level of remodeling activity since the index was introduced in 2004.
Most regions of the country posted year-over-year gains. In June, the West grew by 6%, the Midwest by 13%, and the South by 1% in month-over-month gains. Only the Northeast saw a decline in remodeling activity, by 4%.
"The first half of 2011 brought pain to many sectors of the economy, including home sales and jobs. However, Americans continue to invest in remodeling, sending the BuildFax Remodeling Index to a new all-time high," said Joe Emison, VP research and development at BuildFax. "With so many Americans unable to sell their current home, it is apparent that they are planning on staying in their current residences and are making renovations and upgrades."
Based in Austin, Texas, BuildFAX derives its remodeling index on monthly building permit activity filed with local building departments across the country.
California LBM chain closes
Moss Lumber & Hardware Co., a Northern California chain of four lumberyards, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and closed suddenly on May 10, according to an article in the Redding Record Searchlight.
The family-owned operation, founded in 1946, had locations in Redding, Red Bluff, Chico and Fresno.
During the housing boom, the company employed approximately 200 people, the newspaper reported. Its current CEO, Greg Moss, was the third generation of the Moss family to operate the business.
Feds looking at new foreclosure solution
In an attempt to shore up the housing market and also provide more affordable rentals, the federal government is considering the idea of turning some of the 250,000 foreclosed homes it owns into rental units. On Aug. 10, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it was seeking public input on “new options” for selling single-family homes owned by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
“As we continue moving forward on housing finance reform, it’s critical that we support the process of repair and recovery in the housing market," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "Exploring new options for selling these foreclosed properties will help expand access to affordable rental housing, promote private investment in local housing markets, and support neighborhood and home price stability."
Officials from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, said they would accept ideas in a “request for information process” through Sept. 15. A more formal request for proposals from interested investors is expected to follow.