Elections over - back to work

Posted on November 9, 2010 by Mike Means

Well, the elections are finally over. Thank goodness no more robo-calls. Did your candidates win?

Anecdotal evidence appears to point to a modes uptick in activity in the Oklahoma homebuilding industry. I am hearing from various sources that people are starting to think about building and that many of those that had been looking may be finally turning to buying. We shall see.

In the meantime, let's keep our hopes up and continue to work smart. As we prepare for the holidays, let's remember that "home" is where the heart is and we are, after all, "home" builders.

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Election Picks and Predictions

Posted on November 3, 2010 by Mike Means

Ok folks, election is Tuesday, November 2. Are you ready? We last discussed the State Questions, now, who do you vote for? What will be the ultimate outcome?

Well, I don't feel it is my place to tell folks who to vote for, but I can share a couple of interesting tidbits, such as who our Political Action Committee (PAC) supported. Knowing how the association's leadership feels about a candidate may give you a good idea as to who they feel may be the best bet for our industry. Because our PAC is somewhat limited in size, we don't get involved in every race.

Our PAC supported Mary Fallin for Governor, Todd Lamb for Lt. Governor and Scott Pruitt for Attorney General. Some of you may be wondering why we got involved in the Lt. Governor's race. Well, Todd Lamb, when he was a freshman state senator cut his legislative teeth carrying our Right to Remedy bill. Homebuilders don't forget their friends.

I know there are some other statewide races that are on the ballot, but again, with a limited PAC we directed resources to the legislative races. After all, that is the area that hurts or helps our industry as they are the lawmaking body. If you have a particular race you are interested in, drop me an email and I will tell you if the PAC got involved.

On the Federal level, we supported all the incumbents. I think most Oklahomans will agree we have a terrific Congressional delegation and I can tell you they truly support our industry. The only open seat is the one being vacated by Mary Fallin. In that race we have contributed to the candidacy of James Lankford.

Now, for a prediction or two. The easy one is that the House and the Senate in Oklahoma will remain in the hands of the Republicans. In Washington DC, I think the Republicans will take Congress but I think in the Senate the Democrats hang on for a very narrow margin. We will find out very soon, won't we?

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State Questions - what to vote?

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about all the state questions that will be on the ballot. Well, I decided to share my thoughts, information I've read, and then let you decide. Hopefully you can use this as some kind of guide for the election. I will try to be brief. Ready? Let's go!

SQ 744 - this is the one getting all the publicity. First you should know that your State Board of Directors voted unamiously to oppose this question. (In other words, vote NO.) It calls for education spending to be the regional average but provides no revenue stream or accountability. Simply put, to meet the mandate taxes must either go up or other essential government services (roads?) will be cut.

SQ 746 - this question will require anyone appearing to vote must present an ID. Hmm, can't cash a check or use a credit card without an ID. This one makes sense to me.

SQ 747 - this question puts term limits on the other state office holders. Governor and legislature already term limited. This would include all the other office holders; i.e., Lt. Governor, Treasurer, etc. Personally, I would have preferred letting the Governor and Lt. Governor run as a ticket and appoint the rest. In the meantime, term limits seems to be working.

SQ 748 - this changes how the reapportionment process will work. (Gerrymandering the legislative districts.) It would additional people to make it more bi-partisan. This seems to be a good idea.

SQ 750 - this measure would make it slightly easier to get petitions to the ballot by changing the number of signatures required. Each election cycle the number required changes. This would change it to the gubernatorial cycle and is a good idea.

SQ 751 - this question would require that all official state actions be in English. Native American languages could also be used. There is a lot of momentum behind this question. It is not as strong as English-only, but it is a step in that direction.

SQ 752 - this question would add two new non-lawyer, at-large members to the Judicial Nominating Commission. This sounds like a good way to get some average citizen input into the process.

SQ 754 - this is an attempt to counteract SQ 744 if it should pass. Many experts feel this question is just as bad as SQ 744. Probably best to just say NO to both.

SQ 755 - this question would forbid courts from considering international law or Sharia law when deciding cases. Not sure that we have had that problem in Oklahoma...yet.

SQ 756 - this is your chance to be heard on Obamacare. A YES vote says NO to a national health care system.

SQ 757 - this question would increase the amount of surplus revenue which goes to the Rainy Day Fund from 10% to 15%. Mixed thoughts on this one. If we would have had more money in the fund, the state budget would have been a little better following the national downturn. But, if things are going well, do we really want the state holding the money instead of letting the citizens decide what is best? If there is that much money coming in, perhaps taxes are a little too high? Your call.

There they are in a nutshell. Have fun at the polls. My next post will deal with some candidates.

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State Residential Building Code

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

Hopefully by now you are aware that the State of Oklahoma is developing the first ever statewide residential building code. OSHBA is closely monitoring the work of the Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission (UBCC) and will regularly post to this blog the latest information, so check back regularly.

Currently the UBCC is reviewing the International Residential Code (IRC) 2009 for adoption. There are some items in the code that OSHBA feels is not in the best interest of Oklahoma citizens at this time. One item in particular is mandatory residential fire sprinkler systems. There are several more items worth mentioning, but I will reserve those for the future. So check back soon.

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Legislative update: state newspapers provide information on OSHBA progress

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

Homebuilders' efforts will pay off for Oklahoma consumers


Published: August 20, 2010

Consumers will reap rewards from state homebuilders' legislative efforts to tighten contractor registration requirements.

The first involves roofer registration legislation, where roofers will register with the state's Construction Industries Board. Roofers will provide a small fee, verify their insurance and will then be required to display their registration number on all of their trucks and signs.

This simple measure should decrease the number of out-of-state or illegitimate roofing companies that always seem to appear following one of Oklahoma's numerous weather events.

The dust has settled on the state's most recent legislative session, and consumers will benefit from the passage of several other measures, lobbied by the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association. OSHBA is a not-for-profit trade organization of more than 2,600 members serving as an advocate for the housing industry and an affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders.

OSHBA worked with several other industries in supporting passage of workers' compensation reform. This reform will provide insurance savings to homebuilder members, which can ultimately be passed on to consumers.

Homebuilders also supported a revision in pre-lien notification on remodeling work. This revision would have helped contractor-customer relations. The governor vetoed the measure, so homebuilders will revisit the issue with the Legislature next year.

No victory comes without some defeat, and the industry suffered significant setbacks on two measures.

The first  an impact fee proposal  was snuffed out shortly after making it through the House. This bill required charges on developers to pay for the construction or expansion of necessary municipal capital improvements to benefit the new development. With no mandated impact fee in place, municipalities are free to increase taxes on builders, costs that are passed on to consumers.

Homebuilders also suffered a setback with the Energy Efficient Residential Construction tax credit. As it became clear the state's budget shortfall was too large, the Legislature began looking for ways to raise revenue. One of those avenues was to mandate a moratorium on tax credits. This tax credit, along with 31 others, was put on hold July 1 and will remain so for two more years.

These defeats are disappointing, but we are extremely proud of the efforts made by our members and the state association in helping the industry and consumer. I'm looking forward to next year and the opportunity to revisit these important issues  for everyone's benefit.

French is president of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association.

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The guru of social media in homebuilding tells how

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

Homebuilder's advice on social media: 'Be yourself, but yourself without a megaphone.'

Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association has taken steps to encourage members and others in the home-building business to embrace social media.

Published: September 9, 2010

Q&A with Jeff Click Homebuilders use social media to reach out to customers

Q: The Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association presented members and others a panel on social media about a month ago. Did it take? How have builders responded?

A: Our industry has been such that mainstream marketing efforts weren't always necessary, but now that the housing market has changed, many builders are giving their marketing strategies a long-overdue look. Some are even looking at marketing for the first time. Homebuilding is a relational profession, and social media is one way I think builders can relate in ways that they're not all unused to, albeit via different media from the phone or face to face. I think those who are reasonably tech savvy and are serious about relating to the next generation of consumers are heeding the need for making social media one part of their greater marketing strategy.

Q: How does Jeff Click use social media? How does Jeff Click Homes use social media? What are the differences?

A: It's an often-asked question, whether to differentiate yourself personally from your more corporate presence. I treat them separately, but allow them to overlap. Often, people want to know the personal side of who's behind a company they're considering doing business with, and sometimes it's something about you personally that can drive someone to become interested in your company.

Q: What does a builder, or other small-business person, NOT want to do with social media?

A: Overdo it. It's easy to make the mistake of becoming annoying, which is counterproductive in gaining a following. Stick to providing content that's unique to you, rather than always trying to be everyone's news source. Engage in dialogue without being so chatty people question whether you actually do any work. Appropriately inform, but don't overtly sell your product or service. Be yourself, but yourself without a megaphone.

Q: What are the potential downsides to using social media? How do you avoid them or minimize them?

A: Being involved in social media, in a way, amplifies who you really are. So if you do things well, that's what it should project. Some fear the possibility that as you or your company become more visible, you become more of a target for potential public negative attacks. Depending on how you handle these situations, they can often be turned into opportunities.


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