Editor’s note: This column will be published in the upcoming edition of Oklahoma Builder magazine
By Dan Reeves
The International Builder’s Show in Orlando, this year had an overall increased attendance of 80,000. This is a great sign for the housing industry. NAHB Economist Robert Dietz, Ph.D., says GDP growth is expected to be 2.4 percent in 2017, up from 1.6 percent in 2016. Mortgage rates are projected to be on a gradual increase from 3.7 percent in 2016 to 4.5 percent in 2017 to 5.3 percent in 2018. Nationally, housing starts are projected for single family to continue to rise from 780,000 to 855,000 in 2017, and 961,000 in 2018.
I had the honor of attending the NAHB Board Meeting as one of our state’s Board Members. The NAHB membership has not been recovering in the number of new members like the national home building Industry has seen in housing starts recovery. The total NAHB membership has been relatively flat at around 140,000 members in more than 700 state and local associations. They are working on increasing members like all of our associations.
The NAHB Executive team met with President Donald Trump before the election and had been meeting with the transition team discussing challenges our industry has been facing and the burdensome red tape and bureaucracy that hurts our members. The NAHB Executive team feels that we will win some and lose some, but they are excited the President is a builder-developer and may understand our issues better. Nationally, we have several issues to watch. If Scott Pruitt is confirmed as Director of the EPA, we hope to get some relief from the burdensome EPA regulations. Tax reform has our mortgage interest deduction on the chopping block. How does immigration reform play out? Health care reform? Other issues? The NAHB Executive team wants us to know they are advocates for our industry.
Economic Growth Predictions
Locally, the prediction is for Oklahoma to slowly grow the economy. I have listened to several economists about the 2017 Oklahoma economy. My understanding from their educated guess is the Oklahoma state economy will grow around 4 percent, with Oklahoma City and Tulsa leading the way. Oklahoma City is predicted at 1 percent, and Tulsa to fall between the state’s and OKC’s growth rates. Oklahoma City is predicted to be flat for two years, which makes this the best downturn for Oklahoma ever after an oil collapse. High-end homes will suffer the most until oil can recover to more than $65 per barrel. The OKC Metro has averaged 5,000 building permits per year for the past 11 years with a high of 6,065 and a low of 3,882. In 2016, permits were 4,383, one of the lowest totals in years. Housing starts should be up from 2016 numbers.
Legislative Session Opens
Oklahoma legislators have filed more than 2,000 bills. We have a $900 million deficit at the Capitol, and I think so far the only agreement they have to fill the huge hole is to tax tattoos. Mike Means, our Executive team and our Legislative Committee are already at work meeting with our State Legislators discussing the bills and advocating for our industry. We need your help by signing up for Voter Voice, which is an email system that makes it easy for you to email your Representatives to tell them your stance on the issues. To sign up for this service, go to the member log-in on the OSHBA website. If you have any issue, please contact the OSHBA’s office and they can assist you. We normally will have spoken to the bill’s author, committee members, etc., about the bill, and ask our members to back us by sending these emails, which only take about one minute for you to fill out and hit send. We appreciate those who help. It really does make a difference. We also need your help to come to the State Capitol for our Day at the Capitol on March 29. We would like to have a large group as we go to the House and Senate chambers and walk the halls talking to our representatives about the issues our industry is facing.
Good time at Installation Banquet
The annual Installation Banquet was a great time. NAHB 1st Vice Chairman, Randy Noel, came in to install our officers. It was an honor to have him attend. Our Hall of Fame continues to grow with some outstanding role models. This year’s inductees were Charles Gilmore, Ken Klein, Bill Rhees, Bob Thompson and Reese Wilmoth. Congratulations to them and their families. We appreciate all you have done for our industry.
I love OSHBA. It is my pleasure to serve as your President this year. If I can help, please go to our OSHBA website and email me. I hope to see you at OSHBA Day at the Capitol on March 29.