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Sales of existing homes slip slightly

BY Ken Clark

Existing-home sales declined in March from inventory constraints, which continued to pressure home prices, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million in March, from a downwardly revised 4.95 million in February,

Compared with a year ago, existing home sales are up 10.3%.

"Buyer traffic is 25% above a year ago when we were already seeing notable gains in shopping activity," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "In the same time frame housing inventories have trended much lower, which is continuing to pressure home prices. The good news is home construction is rising and low mortgage rates are continuing to keep affordability conditions at historically favorable levels. The bad news is that underwriting standards remain excessively tight, while renters are getting squeezed by higher rents." 

The NAR also reported that the median existing single-family home price was $185,100 in March, up 12.1% from a year ago. 

Total housing inventory at the end of March increased 1.6% to 1.93 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.6 months in February. Listed inventory remains 16.8% below a year ago when there was a 6.2-month supply.

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NARI honors American contractors

BY Ken Clark

In an event sponsored by Home Depot and Pella, 26 “contractors of the year” were honored for excellence.

The 2013 Evening of Excellence reception took place April 12, during a three-day event for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), which also included its Spring Business Meeting, held at the Intercontinental Kansas City at the Plaza, in Kansas City, Mo. 

This year, NARI brought the Evening of Excellence to the remodeling industry as a whole, via an online Webcast announcement that was also broadcast to those who were in attendance in person at the reception. The presentation highlighted both Regional and National winners, totaling 133 projects in 26 categories ranging from kitchens, baths, additions, exteriors, whole house and commercial remodels. The Webcast will be available for 30 days at Nari.org/eveningofexcellence. 

The Home Depot and Pella Corp. sponsored the Evening of Excellence.

Contractors from seven regions nationwide vie for the awards on an annual basis. All projects submitted for judging were an improvement or an addition to an existing structure, with the exception of one category, “Residential Exterior Specialty.” Otherwise, new construction projects were not eligible. 

An impartial panel of judges selected winners based on each entrant’s binders, which include “before and after” photography and project descriptions. Judging focused on problem solving, functionality, aesthetics, craftsmanship, innovation, degree of difficulty and entry presentation. 

Twenty-six national CotY winners were named at this year’s ceremony. 

To be considered for a CotY Award, a company must be a NARI member in good standing. The entries of this year’s competition totaled more than $71 million worth of remodeling projects. NARI members represent an elite group of the approximately 800,000 companies and individuals in the U.S. identifying themselves as remodelers.

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At Hardware Show, big brands welcomed back

BY Ken Clark

The National Hardware Show has almost 700 new exhibitors signed up for the Las Vegas event to be held May 7-9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Included in the list are some veteran big brands.

“We listened to what attendees and those in the industry wanted, and they wanted the big brands to return to the show,” said Sonya Ruff Jarvis, VP attendee programs with the National Hardware Show. “We’ve brought those brands back, but we’ve also reached out to a number of new exhibitors.”

So far, more than 98% of available space at the National Hardware Show is sold out. Products will come from a variety of categories, including Farm & Ranch; Hardware and Tools; Homewares; International Sourcing; Inventor’s Spotlight; Lawn, Garden and Outdoor Living; PDRA Paint and Accessories; Pet Products; Plumbing and Electrical; Storage and Organization; and Outdoors, Tailgate and Recreation. 

Some well-known brands that will be coming back to the show include 3M, Ames True Temper, Louisville Ladder and Intertape Polymer, among others. 

In addition, the Innovation Station will be the place for exhibitors to show off products that are brand new to the industry, with special sections for products that are environmentally friendly. The Inventor’s Spotlight area will house products that are patent-pending or just received patent approval, allowing attendees a firsthand look at the newest products on the market. International Sourcing will feature more than 500 exhibitors representing manufacturers from more than 30 countries

“We strive to make the National Hardware Show a can’t-miss event that showcases the newest, most innovative ideas throughout the industry, and we think the fact that almost 700 new exhibitors will be attending this year really speaks to that,” said Jarvis. 

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