LUMBERYARDS

Weyerhaeuser celebrates 25 years of Parallam PSL

BY Ken Clark

Parallam parallel strand lumber (PSL) came on the scene at the Expo 86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and quickly left a mark on the building industry, according to Carlos Guilherme, VP engineered lumber products for Weyerhaeuser.

"The invention of Parallam was one of those building material breakthroughs that happen maybe once or twice in a generation," Guilherme said. "Engineers and scientists invented a new product that took a great building material — wood — and made it even better."

Federal Way, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser manufactures Trus Joist Parallam using long, narrow wood veneer strips bonded together with adhesives in a press and microwave process. The material is free of knots and other defects, and has exceptional fastener holding capability.

One of the key benefits of Parallam is its strength, workability and ability to clear spans and open floor plans, according to Guilherme. It continues to allow architects and builders to use wood framing in structures that would have otherwise required concrete or steel.

 

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Existing-home sales increased in August

BY Ken Clark

One day can make a big difference in housing industry metrics.

About 25 hours after the release of a disappointing housing starts report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said existing-home sales for August increased 7.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.03 million.

The August figure is 18.6% higher than the 4.24 million pace recorded in August 2010.

"Some of the improvement in August may result from sales that were delayed in preceding months, but favorable affordability conditions and rising rents are underlying motivations,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Investors were more active in absorbing foreclosed properties. In additional to bargain hunting, some investors are in the market to hedge against higher inflation.”

Yun added that aberrations in housing data are possible over the coming months, as parts of the country recover from storm damage that may have disrupted closings.

NAR president Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said market affordability is a positive. But he pointed to some of the challenges to closing deals. “The biggest factors keeping home sales from a healthy recovery are mortgages being denied to creditworthy buyers, and appraised valuations below the negotiated price," Phipps said. 

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $168,300 in August, which is 5.1% below August 2010. Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales typically sold at deep discounts — accounted for 31% of sales in August, compared with 29% in July and 34% in August 2010.

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Profits drop 31% at Lennar

BY Brae Canlen

National home builder Lennar reported nearly flat sales for the third quarter of 2011, with revenues of $820.2 million, down 1% from the same quarter of 2010. Net income in the three months ended Aug. 31 were $20.7 million, down 31% from the $30 million earned in the third quarter a year ago.

The Miami-based home builder delivered 2,865 new homes, a decrease of 3% from the third quarter of 2010. New orders were up 11%, to 2,914 homes. The cancellation rate was 20%.

The company, which builds in 17 states, now has a backlog of 2,519 homes — up 16% from the third quarter of 2010. 

Stuart Miller, Lennar’s CEO, noted that the company generated profits in all of its business segments, “despite operating in very challenging economic conditions."

Demand for home purchases is “slowly return[ing] to the marketplace, driven by low home prices and all-time low interest rates,” Miller said. “Limiting that demand is tight and tightening lending standards, high unemployment and low overall consumer confidence, which continue to weigh heavily on the purchase of new homes."

The company continues to focus on “efficient business practice” through its “Everything’s Included” program, product re-engineering and SG&A reduction, Miller said.

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