Posted on September 8, 2020 by Jorie Helms

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Steve Shoemaker, new president of Ideal Homes of Norman. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

NORMAN — Ideal Homes has promoted Steve Shoemaker from vice president of sales and marketing to president of Ideal Homes.

Shoemaker has led marketing for the company since 2003. He is the first company president to be named from outside the original ownership group.

“Steve and I have worked closely together for the last 16 years. He loves this company and its people,” said Vernon McKown, founder and CEO. “While his primary strategic focus has been on the sales, marketing, and design center side of our organization, he has a great strategic mind for the big picture and has played a vital role on our senior management team as we’ve set big goals for growth and leadership development.”

McKown remains as CEO and chairman of the management team. As part of the ownership group that started the company in 1990, he has led the company’s sales, marketing, land development and day-to-day operations.

Going forward, he plans to focus on setting the stage for Ideal’s future growth. Shoemaker will continue to guide sales, marketing and the design center while taking on IT and company leadership development initiatives.

Shoemaker holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communications/public relations from Oklahoma Christian University and holds the MIRM designation — Master in Residential Marketing — from the National Association of Home Builders. He has served on the Oklahoma Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission since 2018.

He and his wife, Jama, have three sons.

Ideal Homes has developed and builds in 18 neighborhoods in the Oklahoma City metro area, including Blanchard, Choctaw, Deer Creek-Edmond, Guthrie, Moore, Mustang, Norman, Piedmont and Yukon, and in Stillwater.

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Posted on September 8, 2020 by Jorie Helms

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Posted on September 2, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Only a developer as seasoned as David Yost could pull this off

Richard Mize

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Living room of “the Perfect House,” 12209 Grand Cedar Lane. [BRYAN TERRY PHOTOS/THE OKLAHOMAN]

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Developer David Yost and designer-real estate agent Joyce Brown worked together to build “the Perfect House” at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane in Yost’s Stonemill Manor neighborhood, a small enclave next to his larger Stonemill addition a quarter-mile west of Coltrane Road on the south side of NE 122.

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Developer David Yost and designer-real estate agent Joyce Brown in “the Perfect House” at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane.

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Kitchen at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane, which David Yost has dubbed “the Perfect House.”

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A view of the multipurpose utility room at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane.

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A view of the master bedroom at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane. [BRYAN TERRY PHOTOS/THE OKLAHOMAN]

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A view of the master bathroom at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane.

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Park and trails at Stonemill Manor, a quarter-mile west of Coltrane Road on the south side of NE 122.

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Pergola in the park at Stonemill Manor, a small enclave next to the larger Stonemill neighborhood by developer David Yost.

A couple of years ago, seasoned developer David Yost hit upon an idea to stimulate interest in one of his neighborhoods: A show house, but more than a show house: “the Perfect House.”

It took a couple of years to build: 4,720 square feet, two bedrooms down and two bedrooms up, three baths, a half-bath, a study, formal dining room, casual dining area, big game room and a multipurpose utility room at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane in Stonemill Manor, a small enclave next to his larger Stonemill neighborhood a quarter-mile west of Coltrane Road on the south side of NE 122.

It took a village to put bricks and mortar and style and finish to the vision that Yost and Joyce Brown brainstormed. Brown is a real estate agent, designer and Yost’s sometimes business partner. Lots are available in Stonemill Manor. The idea was to literally set the standard for what is expected of custom builders.

“We came up with a novel — maybe crazy — idea: Why couldn’t a developer with 35-plus years’ experience working with luxury homebuilders, and a multiple winner of the Realtor Readers’ Choice Award, who is a gifted interior designer, who studied design in Paris, build a perfect home? A home that would showcase the quality that we demand in Stonemill Manor?” he wondered. “My close relationship with the best-ofthe-best subcontractors would assure excellent craftsmanship.

“There would be no financial or time constraints, Joyce would have the time and budget to give full expression to her superb interior design and staging talents, and I could obtain a retired builder/ subcontractor to oversee and manage all phases of construction. The idea, once germinated, became an obsession and we dived in. Well, 22 months later, we have finished the epic endeavor, and darned if it doesn’t seem, to us, like it is ‘Perfect.’

What makes it perfect? That takes some telling, as well as photography.

“The house is a perfect balance of form and function. The performance of the house makes you feel comfortable, and the beauty of the house makes you want to stay, to linger,” Brown said. “A home should be designed in such a way to make everyday living easier and more enjoyable. This house manifests those principles into tangible elements that embrace you and draw you in.

“We wanted the style of the home to stand the test of time. Our inspiration was an old-mansion look mixed with modern elements.”

How did they get to “perfection”?

“Caveats aside, I think we were able to build the house to the highest standards because we had no timetable for completion and no budget constraints,” Yost said. “We were convinced that if we treated each aspect of the building process as if it were the most important of all, and not accept the result until it was flawless, we could build the ‘perfect’ house. And from building the pad and footing, to hanging the mirrors, and final paint touch-up, that’s what we did.

“Of course the key to that being possible was to have the most talented and experienced subcontractors available and willing to work for us, and I believe we were able to do that.”

Drawing upon experience

A less seasoned developer wouldn’t dare, and probably couldn’t.

“For the past 45 years, I’ve been totally immersed in the world of land development, and have known the great builders from Henry Coffeen, Earl Austin, J.W. Mashburn and Mark Dale to name a few, through our present group of highquality, young builders,” Yost said. “I have worked with their architects and designers, their engineers and subcontractors and have developed friendships and working relationships with many of the best of them. I knew the subcontractors I wanted to actually build our house, and I had to be very patient when scheduling them.”

Yost is perhaps known best for his commitment to natural resource conservation, especially tree preservation. He has his own tree farm. A builder in one of his neighborhoods has to be willing to sculpt a lot from the woods, surrendering any trees only to the footprint of the house itself. Choosing the best lot for that, with big, mature trees, was the first step toward the “Perfect house.”

“I worked with Tim Johnson, my engineer, to establish a pad elevation that would take most runoff away from the house and to the street, which fits the overall neighborhood drainage plan. This involved a good amount of fill (dirt), which was carefully compacted to avoid settling,” Yost said. “Raising the pad elevation gave the facade of the house a more imposing look from the street and provided a superb view of the adjacent park with the waterfall and stream, and made them not only visible, but audible, as well.”

Then, a highly sought after foundation contractor was brought in to build an oversize footing and stem wall for extra support; a framing contractor recommended by Don Chesser used upgraded 2-by-6’s for outside walls, heavier-duty trusses at closer spacing than is typical, and erected one especially long clear span requiring a Glulam beam (glued laminated timber) specified by a structural engineer, who also double checked other loading.

The ‘Perfect house’ has Grand Manor roofing shingles by CertainTeed, more expensive but worth it, Yost said, open-cell spray foam insulation instead of typical blown-in insulation, for extra energy efficiency and quiet, and three Carrier heatand-air units.

Yost drew on decades of relationship and experience: A-list plumbing contractor, electrician, drywall installer, painter, a tile contractor “who turned out to be a true artiste” and did “stunning” work, heat-and-air contractor Don Hawkins, whose father installed the HVAC in Yost’s first rental project 45 years ago.

“Joyce and I couldn’t be happier with our Stonemill Manor show home,” Yost said. “As the developer of the neighborhood, I wanted it to represent my commitment to be the best upscale neighborhood in our market area.”

A virtual tour of the home is available at www.stonemillmanorshowhome.com.

Brown explained what makes the rooms and spaces “Perfect.”

Kitchen

“Is it possible to have a love affair with your kitchen? The allure of this kitchen attracts you to spend time in it, whether you’re cooking or not,” Brown said. “The reason you may feel a seductive attraction to the space is the perfect balance of form and function. The form is shaped by floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, sparkling lighting, quartz exterior countertops, designer backsplash and a skillfully crafted built-in china hutch,” Brown said.

“The function is attained by way of a carefully planned appliance layout, which makes everyday cooking & social gatherings a breeze.

“To help keep everything clutter-free, a working pantry provides space to stow the unsightly countertop appliances, while providing additional work space. Joining form and function together is a large 5-by-9-foot island, crowned with a gorgeous slab of granite to become the focal point of the space. The island is free from built-in appliances to create an unobstructed centerpiece, and provide uninhibited space for party layouts and work space.”

Living room

“The living room has a cathedral ceiling with wood beams and the cast-stone fireplace has a mirrored focal wall above. All the main living areas are open and flow one space to another — even out to a 600-square-foot outdoor living area. Three large sliding glass doors open from the indoor living to the outdoor living. Remote control Phantom screens enclose the tiled patio, with fireplace, making it useable year-round and doubling the entertaining space,” Brown said.

Dining area

“The spacious formal dining area sparkles from the light of a crystal chandelier, against the backdrop of a hand-painted focal wall ... the ‘final touch,’ (using) the other areas and colors of the home as inspiration so the wall would feel like an organic part of the overall design. A traditional coffered ceiling, columns and chevron wood floor frame the space,” she said.

Utility room

“Every woman dreams of this space,” Brown said. “To begin with, the room is beautiful, with vintage marble floors, glass pendant lighting, quartz counters and shiplap feature wall with open shelves. If you’re enjoying a game or HGTV in the outdoor living area and feel a little thirsty — no problem. The multipurpose utility space is conveniently located nearby, where a refrigerator space & wet bar/utility sink are tucked just inside its carefully planned layout.

“At the opposite end is a built-in floating desk with leathered granite top for your favorite project, and a walk-in storage closet to stow whatever your heart desires. The finishing touch is a swinging butler’s pantry door — just in case your hands are full.

Master bedroom

“Traditional trims are combined with modern finishes to create a relaxing, elegant space,” Brown said. “From its generously sized sitting area, gorgeous park views can be enjoyed through the large picture window. A door adjoins the bedroom to the outdoor living area for a cozy snuggle by the fireplace. The tray ceiling with dental molding exhibits the attention to detail, as each of the 400 blocks of dental molding were individually cut and installed by hand.

Master bath, closet

“Floor-to-ceiling marble tile, herringbone marble tile floor, marble countertops, soaker tub, incredible walk-in shower completely encased in marble tile. The closet was designed like a boutique with pull-down hanging rods, designer lighting, and a floor-to-ceiling mirror with a hidden velvet-lined jewelry cabinet,” she said.

Study

“The mix of traditional, warm, stained wainscoting and new-trend Sputnik lighting. It’s not at the front door entry, so you won’t have to apologize for a messy desk when an unexpected guest pops by for a visit. The gorgeous view to the park and lots of natural light.

What else?

“The views, the views the views. The house was designed to take advantage of the truly enchanted park that it adjoins. You can hear the sounds and see the beauty of the park stream and waterfalls, and take a quick stroll on the park trails to the putting green and picnic in the rock pavilion with a working water wheel. ... The outdoor grill is tucked away on a connected grilling enclosure. Accessibility to outdoor spaces was carefully planned, with four doors opening to the 600-square-foot outdoor living space. The window placement was designed to provide natural light to every part of the home, while every window also provides a gorgeous view.

For privacy, the guest suite is positioned at the opposite end of the home from the master. The only problem may be that your guests will never want to leave. Highfashion lighting, white oak cabinetry, leathered counter and vessel sink. Floating staircase with hand-made, custom-designed, wroughtiron railing.”

See this article in the e-Edition Here

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Posted on August 14, 2020 by Jorie Helms

NAHB sent a letter to President Trump expressing the housing industry’s growing concern and seeking prompt action regarding soaring lumber prices and supply shortages that are harming the housing sector and the economy.

NAHB is urging the White House to play a constructive role to alleviate this growing threat to housing and the economy by calling on domestic lumber producers to ramp up production to ease growing shortages and making it a priority to work with Canada on a new softwood lumber agreement that would end tariffs averaging more than 20% on Canadian lumber shipments into the United States.

As the nation fights to rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing has been a bright spot for the U.S. economy, particularly single-family construction, with permits running 3.4% higher during the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019.

However, builders are seeing shortages of lumber resulting in an 80% increase in lumber prices since mid-April. Framing lumber prices reached a record high in late July, while oriented strand board prices have increased 138% over the past year. These sharp increases are unsustainable, particularly in light of the housing affordability crisis.

NAHB’s letter to the White House stressed that housing can do its part to create jobs and lead the economy forward; but in order to do so, we need to address skyrocketing lumber prices and chronic shortages.

NAHB recently sent a similar message to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Zoltan van Heyningen, executive director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.

View NAHB’s letter to President Trump.

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Posted on August 6, 2020 by Jorie Helms

The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) has awarded multiple Dolese Bros. Co. locations with Safety Excellence Awards, including Coleman Quarry, Hartshorne Quarry, Ponca City’s 7 Mile Mine, Mustang Sand and OKC East Sand. NSSGA will present the awards at its virtual 2020 Legislative & Policy Forum in September.

“These Safety Excellence awards are a direct result of Dolese employees making safety a personal value on the job each day,” Dolese President and CEO Mark Helm said. "The fact that numerous locations were recognized is something to be celebrated. It is also a challenge for us to continue delivering on our commitment to safety.”  

The NSSGA Safety Excellence Awards originated in 1987 and are presented to aggregates operations that maintain a safe workplace, evidenced by their safety performance over a consecutive period of time without a Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA) reportable injury.

MSHA uses the metric of Total Reportable Injury Rate (TRIR) to monitor reportable injuries. Dolese has seen a consistent decrease in its TRIR as its safety practices have continued to improve during the previous several years.

The NSSGA Safety Excellence Awards recognize operations based upon TRIR performance compared to the rest of the aggregates industry. NSSGA’s safety awards recognize individual operations as well as companies.

“Dolese is focused on improving our safety culture even more by making safety a personal value of all our team members,” Dolese Health, Safety and Environmental Department Director David Finley said. “It’s an honor to receive these awards from the NSSGA because it is an indication of our success compared to our peers in the country.”

Dolese, headquartered in Oklahoma City, has more than 60 facilities across the state. Learn more about Dolese at www.dolese.com

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Posted on July 14, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Housing affordability has long been at the forefront of housing policy and attention. It’s been even further ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on employment and people’s ability to afford somewhere to live.

Recent land use trends — such as form-based codes (FBCs), planned unit development (PUD) and traditional neighborhood development (TND) overlay zones — provide additional development methods to make the residential development and regulation process more efficient. However, some localities are moving in the opposite direction by enacting burdensome residential design standards that go well past good design principles, and into regulation that increases costs, limits consumer options, prices out certain populations and raises a number of legal concerns.

NAHB’s Residential Design Standards: How Stringent Regulations Restrict Affordability and Choice report addresses this issue. Included in the primer are examples of communities across the country that have attempted to implement these types of standards. Traditionally, design standards have allowed communities to control the physical characteristics of their housing stock, preserve community character, protect property values, and attract certain populations of home buyers and renters.

Common examples of highly prescriptive design standards include:

  • Prohibiting or limiting the use of exterior materials such as vinyl siding and metal;
  • Requiring specific and often expensive materials for siding and fences; and
  • Dictating the amount of relief and surface area dedicated to windows and the number of architectural details on the roof.

In a 2019 survey, NAHB found that 47% of builders has encountered such standards; in communities where design requirements exist, 85% of respondents stated that they increased construction prices. Not only is this additional price passed on to home buyers and renters, but home buyers and communities also suffer from reduced production and choice.

The primer details the legal implications of these standards and efforts by local home builders associations (HBAs) and home builders to fight back. In several states, including Arkansas, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Oklahoma, these groups have successfully challenged these standards to limit or prohibit their adoption. Better tools exist for design that can influence residential design without limiting choice, affecting housing affordability or being exclusionary.

The fundamental issue is not the physical characteristics of homes, but what they can mean for affordability. Regulations that artificially raise housing prices without direct ties to public health and safety should not be prioritized over meeting the shortage of affordable homes for families. Housing affordability and attainability should be prioritized through effective planning tools, but unfortunately, barriers to the development process remain.

The primer is available through NAHB’s Land Use 101 toolkit. For more information, and to be connected to other resources, contact Nicholas Julian, Program Manager of Land Use.

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Posted on July 7, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Hanley Wood/Meyers Research and NAHB today announced that BUILDER will cease to be the official magazine of NAHB at the end of 2020, as the two organizations prepare to launch a new home building data platform for NAHB members.

Hanley Wood/Meyers Research will continue to publish BUILDER magazine, BUILDER Online and BUILDER newsletters as well as produce leading events, like BUILDER 100.

For more than 40 years, Hanley Wood/Meyers Research and NAHB have worked together to provide timely resources and insights to builders nationwide, and Hanley Wood/Meyers Research has always maintained an annual presence at the NAHB International Builders’ Show.

“We are proud of the 40-year relationship with the NAHB centered around our media proposition and BUILDER magazine,” said Jeff Meyers, CEO of Hanley Wood/Meyers Research. “Given the evolving media landscape the time was right to pivot our relationship towards a new approach driven by the wide breadth of localized data we provide to best serve the NAHB’s community builder membership and the broader information needs of the industry as a whole.”

The new home building data platform powered by Zonda will help the two organizations meet the growing demand for local market data and analysis in the home building industry.

“NAHB is excited to join with Hanley Wood/Meyers Research to bring the Zonda platform to our community of builder members and complement NAHB’s own economic research,” said NAHB CEO Jerry Howard. “Zonda has long been an important and valuable resource for the builder community.”

With Zonda’s comprehensive data and market intelligence, BUILDER will more accurately identify its audience and allow marketers to reach home builders who drive more than 90% of U.S. annual closings. More information can be found at builderonline.com.

To learn more about Hanley Wood/Meyers Research, visit hanleywood.com and meyersresearchllc.com

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Posted on June 23, 2020 by Jorie Helms

By: Chip Minty The Journal Record

NORMAN – Builders and contractors have maligned the city of Norman’s permitting process for years, calling it slow, inefficient, and costly to their businesses. They consider Norman among the hardest communities in the metro to work in and some have stopped doing business there.

But now, City Manager Darrel Pyle is hoping to change all that. He says Norman’s bad rap has been at the top of his priority list since he moved here from his former post in Hanford, California, last July.

With support from the Norman City Council, Pyle is overhauling Norman’s permitting process, hoping to restore the city’s tarnished reputation among builders in the Oklahoma City metro area.

At the center of his effort is a $7.8 million facility renovation project that will bring the city’s entire permitting process under one roof, creating a one-stop shop for builders and contractors hoping to move projects through City Hall as fast as possible.

Pyle is turning a 40,000-square-foot building adjacent to Norman’s city administration complex into a permitting headquarters with office space for more than 100 city staff members. The building, which used to serve as Norman’s central library, will open next year and will house the city’s fire inspectors, engineering department, planning department and finance department.

Any function associated with obtaining a building permit will be handled in that building, Pyle says. Issues or questions will be resolved efficiently with a quick phone call or a trip down the hall.

That will be a big improvement from years past, Pyle says. Until recently, the system and the staff were not cohesive. Some staff members had never met other colleagues involved in the permitting process, and many weren’t even sure how the entire system worked.

Several months ago, Pyle began to change that by bringing everyone together for a week of discussions facilitated by Management Partners, a California-based consulting group.

Since then, Pyle and his permitting team have been on a roll, looking for opportunities to improve efficiency and finding ways to push permits out the door faster.

The city now can self-certify certain types of sewer-line construction, which speeds the permitting process by sidestepping the need for a state Department of Environmental Quality inspection, which can take 45 days to complete.

The city has also hired third-party plan checkers to help when full-time staff members are bogged down by surging workloads, and inspectors can now inspect some types of construction virtually, rather than drive to job sites for every inspection, Pyle said.

Rigid work schedules are a thing of the past, he says. Now, building inspectors are available to visit worksites at sunrise if necessary, to allow construction projects to proceed without costly delays, waiting for inspectors to start their normal workdays.

The city also has developed a new website that builders can use to submit plans and communicate with city staff. The site is more technologically advanced, and, for the first time, it is Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with our staff,” Pyle said. “The biggest change has been in attitude, realizing that just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean we always have to do it that way. There is a realization that developers are the priority.”

“We have only one goal here at the city of Norman. We want to be the best there is,” he said.

Norman Chamber of Commerce President Scott Martin said he’s thrilled with the changes.

He’s heard story after story from people who have faced challenges going through Norman’s permitting process, including from a couple of Norman’s City Council members.

“This has been a priority of the chambers for many years now,” Martin said. “Permitting is critical to the development community, but it needs to be fair and responsive. I have yet to talk to anyone who is not supportive of high standards, but when the process is extra challenging and particularly hard, that’s where the frustration is.”

“Around the metro, Norman has had the reputation of being a hard place to do business, and this is going to improve that reputation,” he said.

Tim Grissom, owner of TC Grissom Building Co., says he’s been building in Norman for 25 years, and he’s glad to hear changes are on the horizon.

“That’s a good thing, because the process can be frustrating,” Grissom said. “It has been for years.”

He said the city staff members he works with are nice people, but the system they work in has been a typical government bureaucracy, and they’ve never shown much interest in changing it.

“I just think they could do a better job.”

Curtis McCarty, a former member of the Norman Planning Commission, says he’s been building homes in Norman for nearly 30 years, and over time, he’s learned how to adapt to the city’s way of doing things.

McCarty, owner of McCarty Construction, said the city has asked him and other builders for suggestions, and he can see they’re trying to improve.

The residential side has been better the last few years, and if the city can improve service on the commercial side, it will improve Norman’s reputation among builders in the metro area.

“I think it’s working, and they’re going in the right direction,” McCarty said.

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Posted on June 9, 2020 by Jorie Helms

By: Janice Francis-Smith The Journal Record

Taylor Pettyjohn said she was “super excited” on Friday afternoon, just hours after she and her husband closed on their first house. The young couple are expecting their first child in October, and as soon as they had the keys in hand they headed to the new place to start preparing things for their move.

“It was super easy, and we were super blessed,” said Pettyjohn of their first homebuying experience, despite the fact that it occurred during a global

pandemic and a time of economic upheaval. The current situation may even provide a boost for first-time homebuyers, said Mindy Turner, the Realtor who helped the Pettyjohns and several other young couples like them find homes in recent weeks.

Many are taking advantage of low interest rates and state incentives that allow people with limited means an entrance into Oklahoma’s homeowners’ market.

“It’s such a weird time, but it just kind of laid itself out to us,” said Pettyjohn.

The couple knew what they wanted. After a few days looking at the home online, they scheduled a tour and made an offer on it that night. Current low interest rates and down-payment assistance available made it all work out better than they had even expected.

“Unbelievable but yes, our mortgage is cheaper than our rent for a one-bedroom apartment, and we are moving into a three-bedroom house with a huge backyard,” said Pettyjohn. “It’s the perfect home for us.”

“My business did not slow down at all during the pandemic,” said Turner. “My buyers weren’t afraid and they really wanted to buy a house and the rates were low, so we took the necessary precautions but we still got out and looked at houses.

“I would say that the majority of my buyers are millennials under 30 and this is the first house that they’re buying,” said Turner. “Every single house I show goes under contract in the first 12 hours and has multiple offers, every single time. That’s for the buyers that are looking at around $150,000 or below. The higher-priced homes aren’t going so fast.”

The competition is fierce for the limited amount of affordably priced homes on the market right now, said Turner. “If we don’t know the very first day it hits the market we don’t have a chance to even put an offer in,” she said.

The current low interest rates are allowing buyers to get a more house for their money, said Turner. Plus, the state of Oklahoma is also providing first-time home buyers with down-payment assistance through the Oklahoma Housing Finance Authority, and that has proved a powerful incentive for buyers.

Those with a limited income – which is true for many in the 35-and-under age range – and a credit score of 650 can get a home with almost no money down. Motivated sellers might also throw in closing costs, said Turner.

“I had a closing last Friday and they had to bring $900 to closing, and today at a closing I did they had to bring $2,400 and that’s everything,” said Turner.

Using census data, home improvement website Improvenet recently published a report that ranked Oklahoma City 21st in the nation on its list of cities with the highest percentage of millennial-age homeowners. Nationwide, the under-35 age group accounts for about 11% of homeowners in cities with populations exceeding 150,000, but in Oklahoma City the age group accounts for 14.6% of homeowners. Clarksville, Tennessee topped the list at 23%, while Huntington Beach, California came in last with 4.9%.

Millennial homeowners in Oklahoma are most likely to be families, not single people who own a home. Oklahoma City came in ninth on the list of cities with the most millennial families living in their own homes, at 9.3%, while no city in Oklahoma appeared on the list of single homeowners in the 35-and-under age range.

Oklahoma City ranked 47th on Realtor.com’s list of cities that have experienced a large decline in new listings as of June 4. New listings in Oklahoma City are down 16.1% year over year. The median listing price is $267,000, which is a 3.8% increase over the median price a year ago, and the median number of days a house spends on the market is 49.

Some sellers might be waiting until later in the summer to put their homes on the market, concerned about conducting showings during the pandemic, said Turner. Local Realtors have had some success with virtual showings, video walk-throughs and “no touch” showings wherein the homeowner leaves all the lights on and closet doors open so prospective buyers don’t need to touch anything, she said.

SmartAsset, a New York-based financial technology company, ranked Oklahoma City at No. 32 and Tulsa at No. 49 on its recent list of the 50 housing markets with the most stable growth. The report found that home prices in Oklahoma City have increased 132% since 1995, while home prices in Tulsa have 113% and the odds of a home losing 5% of its value over a decade was 0% for both cities.

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Posted on May 27, 2020 by Jorie Helms

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Purchase apps last week were 6.7% higher than a year ago, MBA says

Applications for mortgages to purchase homes gained for the sixth consecutive week to a level that was 6.7% higher than a year ago, back when a deadly pandemic wasn’t interrupting the spring home-buying season.

A seasonally adjusted index measuring purchase applications jumped 9% last week, according to a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications for refinancings fell 0.2% from the prior week, though the level was 176% higher than a year ago, MBA said.

Last week’s so-called purchase apps were up 54% from early April when most U.S. states were under lockdown orders to keep people at home in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

“The housing market is continuing its path to recovery as various states reopen, leading to more buyers resuming their home search,” said Joel Kan, an MBA associate vice president.

The surge in purchase demand drove the overall index, measuring both purchase and refi applications, higher by 2.7% on a seasonality adjusted basis from the prior week, the report said.

Demand is being driven by a shortage of homes on the market that preceded the epidemic, coupled with mortgage rates near the lowest level ever recorded.

The supply of properties on the market at the end of April was 1.47 million, the National Association of Realtors said last week. That’s the lowest level ever recorded for the month, said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Last week, the average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 3.24%, within one basis point of the all-time low set two weeks earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

The share of applications for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration decreased to 11.2% from 11.5% in the week prior, the report said. The share of applications backed by the Veterans Administration fell to 12.4% from 13.4%, the report said.

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Posted on May 26, 2020 by Jorie Helms

By: Janice Francis-Smith, The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – After a coordinated effort by a handful of statewide organizations concerned with residential real estate, legislation to keep municipalities from imposing purely aesthetic design standards has now become law.

Senate Bill 1713 became effective when Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the measure on Thursday.

SB 1713, by state Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, and state Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, was written to prevent municipalities from imposing building design regulations for single-family residential zones based on aesthetics alone.

Such regulations drive up the cost of construction, making it harder for builders to provide the amount of affordable housing that Oklahoma is projected to need over the next few years. The Oklahoma Home Builders Association, Oklahoma Association of Realtors and Oklahoma Coalition for Affordable Housing came together to urge lawmakers to pass the legislation.

“The ability of persons from all economic segments to own a home is one of many reasons America is who we are,” said David in a statement provided by the OkHBA. “The commitment from home builders to defend property rights and continue to protect all Americans is why we were so pleased to work alongside OkHBA and pass legislation that will continue to uphold these ideas.”

The Oklahoma Senate held an interim study on the matter in October. Daniel McClure, deputy general counsel, Oklahoma Municipal League, had defended municipalities’ efforts to ensure that builders used high-quality materials in construction, asserting that design standards improve the quality of affordable housing in the towns that implement such rules.

A 2017 study by the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute found that municipalities across the country have a history of using such design standards – addressing no safety need but purely based on aesthetics – to deliberately keep prices high and keep lower-income individuals from buying homes in certain neighborhoods. However, the study ranked Oklahoma as having the least amount of unnecessary restrictions of all 50 states.

Still, some municipalities in Oklahoma, such as Tuttle and Bixby, had passed some regulations restricting some exterior finishes such as vinyl, wood and aluminum siding that would otherwise be permitted under the International Residential Code.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, families that pay more than 30% of their income for housing are considered cost-burdened. According to that standard, more than 40% of Oklahomans are cost-burdened and would have to make at least $15.54 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. Oklahoma is projected to need 7,454 housing units and 11,630 rental housing units for families earning 60% or less of the area median income.

Some neighborhoods within Oklahoma municipalities have special designations – such as historic preservation – that prevent certain materials to be used on the exterior of homes. SB 1713 includes provisions for historic districts, planned unit developments and other neighborhoods where homeowners have agreed to maintain certain design standards to preserve those restrictions.

Curtis McCarty, a homebuilder and president of the OkHBA, said the legislation would help first-time homebuyers get into a home.

“If we don’t find ways to keep housing affordable, we will eliminate a group of people that would like to be homebuyers but end up renting,” said McCarty.

“Cities and states might not be able to prevent the high product costs and rising interest rates that affect the housing industry nationwide, but fortunately they can prevent more costs that come from adding unnecessary design regulations to homes,” said builder M.J. Farzaneh of Home Creations.

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Posted on May 26, 2020 by Jorie Helms

By: Sonya Colberg, The Journal Record

Oklahoma City houses are priced at an average of $197,000, up 8.2% year- over-year,
with 20 days average on the market, reports Redfin. In Edmond, the average price is $257,000,
up 2.9%, averaging 22 days on the market. (Journal Record file photo)

Real estate agent Jared Kennedy picked up the phone and heard, “Water is pouring through the ceiling!”

Hmm, this could be bad, he thought. But he said he hoped just a little water had seeped into the house. He figured it could be patched up in a couple of days.

The agent had sold the vacant house and set up an April 6 close date, well into the coronavirus outbreak. The buyers initially declined the pre-closing walk- through because of COVID-19 concerns.

Then, at the last minute, the buyers decided to walk through the house.

“Good thing they did,” Kennedy said.

“When they got to the house, the upstairs mini-fridge had an ice maker. The line busted off it. And it flooded the entire house,” said Kennedy, Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of Realtors board member. “It caved in the ceiling. Everything had to be completely gutted and remodeled.”

The repair bill hit $128,000. Insurance handled the costs for the 4,800-square-foot house after the $3,000 deductible.

“Everyone took it well,” said Kennedy. “And the house is still set to close.”
The COVID-19 near-disaster demonstrates how people’s attitudes have changed toward buying and selling homes.

Oklahoma is adjusting, though national home sales suffered the biggest drop in almost 10 years in April as much of the country remained locked down by the coronavirus.

Existing home sales plummeted 17.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.33 million units last month, according to the National Association of Realtors. The drop was the greatest since July 2010.

Bucking the trend

The state is not just adjusting. Under the relaxing restrictions, Oklahoma real estate is rocking. “Oklahoma is really bucking the national trend,” Kennedy said.

“Given the circumstances, I think everyone was expecting this to be a down year,” he added.

Kennedy chose this seemingly unfortunate time to open his own firm, Lime Realty, in January shortly before the coronavirus raced onto the scene.

“Three months in and the world shuts down,” Kennedy said. “It was pretty terrifying.” But he said the real estate market has been incredible for him despite the pandemic.

“I will sell twice as many houses this year as I did last year,” Kennedy said. He said he usually sells about 20 to 25 houses yearly.

Houses priced from $90,000 to nearly $2 million are all selling well, he said.

Eager buyers are flooding the market and some are even buying sight unseen to limit contact, said Nicca Collier with Metro First Realty Premier in Edmond.

“Properties that are positioned properly are selling within a few days of being listed on the MLS,” Collier said, referring to the multiple listing service available to brokers that lists properties for sale.

Tulsa home sales have recently picked up considerably, too, according to Paul Wheeler, owner of Accent Realtors in Tulsa.

“We’re selling about a house a day right now with our small team,” Wheeler said. “The average Realtor sells six a year.”

The Oklahoma City metro had 2,081 closings in April 2019, averaging $204,609, with 51 days on the market, according to MLSOK.

That compares with this April’s 1,908 closings (down 8.3%), averaging $215,990 (up 5.56%), with just 41 days on the market.

Tulsa closings fell to 1,309 in April, down 7.1% from last year. Average selling price hit $184,726 (up 4.64% over 2019), according to RE Datum. Houses stayed on the market about 37 days, versus 43 days in April 2019.

Weird times

Meanwhile, in the face of the coronavirus, the business of buying and selling houses has dramatically changed. “I don’t know that I’ve seen anything much weirder than this,” said Wheeler.

One in four home sellers have changed how they sell their houses in response to the virus, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Wheeler said people living in the houses they’ve put up for sale initially said, “I’m not sure I want strangers, potentially ill strangers, going through our home.”

Some sellers have requested virtual home tours to cut personal contact. Agents say they have experienced sellers backing out of open houses, though more have recently begun accepting the idea of holding an open house – with safety stipulations.

Listings drop

With concerns and shelter-in-place recommendations still fresh, the state’s home listings slowed significantly in April, according to MLSOK Inc.

New listings in Oklahoma dropped 13.4% for single-family homes, while pending sales fell 9% in April.

There are about 10,496 homes for sale in Oklahoma, listed at a median price of $269,900, averaging about $106 per square foot, according to Redfin.

The lack of inventory is good news for sellers, bad news for buyers. Inventory in Tulsa, Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers and Wagoner counties plummeted by 36.6% to 4,981 homes for sale, according to RE Datum.

Consequently, buyers have readily accepted the masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, booties and social distancing requested in today’s house showings, agents say.

Buyers and agents typically mention they will be wearing masks, at least, when requesting a house showing.

Open houses virtually shut down for a couple of months during the heat of the pandemic restrictions. But agents say open houses are happening more often now in the Oklahoma City area.

In Tulsa, sellers of only one occupied house represented by Kennedy have wanted an open house, he said.

“I have seven active listings right now. And three will be open this weekend,” he said.

“Under normal circumstances, probably all seven would be open.”

So, the business of selling houses has become more complicated, while the Oklahoma market currently appears healthy.

Market drivers apparently include fewer houses for sale, pent-up demand after eased restrictions, approach of the moving season and – likely most of all – near-record low interest rates of about 3.3% for a 30-year loan.

Future unknown

No one knows how COVID-19 will affect the local market over the rest of the year.

The usual spring buying season will be missed, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement, so a later bounce-back won’t make up for lost sales in April through June. He projects sales will be down 14% nationally for the year.
Oklahoma tends to lag behind much of the country in economic trends, so it’s likely to take about six months before the true effects of a coronavirus economy show up. But Kennedy, Wheeler, Collier and others agree on how local real estate may look going forward.

“We’re feeling it already,” said Wheeler. “We’re calling it the bounce.”

By: Sonya Colberg, The Journal Record

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Posted on April 29, 2020 by Jorie Helms

CAUTION – Trouble Ahead?

The Pandemic surrounding us has sent shock waves into the lives of individuals and families worldwide.  With so many deaths and the continuing illnesses almost everyone is scared, frustrated, and confused.

There are currently 26 MILLION Americans who have filed for unemployment.  One in every six of us have lost our jobs.  How do we cope?The debate of whether to reopen more retail businesses or remain at home is raging.  When can people safely go back to work and earn a living?

To give some financial relief, mortgage loan servicers have been instructed to allow forbearance from monthly mortgage payments.  Homeowners can ask for and receive delays in making those payments.  Here is how Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, describes forbearance (thanks Debra P):

“Loan forbearance—a short-term reduction or suspension of payments in response to a borrower's temporary hardship—can preserve household cash flow in times of economic difficulty. It can also have significant impacts on your credit history and credit scores.”

Did you read that last sentence?  That is the part of forbearance NO ONE is discussing.  When a loan payment is missed it is required that the loan servicer report that event to the credit bureaus.  Late payments on a mortgage loan are much worse on credit scores than missing a payment on a vehicle or credit card. 

In reading thousands of credit reports over the years, I have never seen a forbearance listing.  Foreclosures, short sales, late payments are listed.  Not forbearance.  How will the policymakers handle this current crisis?  Will they instruct loan servicers to not report forbearance files the same way?  We cannot depend on that.

If you must ask for forbearance, do it.  If it seems like a convenience during this time of stimulus checks, etc., I recommend avoiding that path for as long as possible.  You do not want late mortgage payments to be reflected on your credit reports for years.  Those listings will damage your ability to get the best deals on most everything you buy.

HINT:  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who buy packaged loans from mortgage lenders are charging the lender from 5 – 7% of the loan amount to purchase loans in forbearance.  That is far more than any profit made for originating, processing, underwriting, and closing the loan.  Lenders are being forced to offer forbearance with no place to go for liquidity which they need to keep making loans. 

My days are full of borrowers executing refinance or purchase transactions as interest rates are terrific.  I took time for this article because of the gravity of making the wrong decision.  

It is important to have a trusted guide when in the wilderness.  I am that guide for your mortgage needs.  Be safe, be mindful, be blessed.  I am.  NMLS #310445.  An Equal Housing Lender.

Kent Carter

https://kentcarterloans.com/

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Posted on April 28, 2020 by Jorie Helms

What a strange time we live in.  How can a bug from a bat in China shut down the world?  Everything is going great, then wham, the wheels fall off our cart.  It begs a lot of questions like: How in the world did this happen?  How long will it last?  Will I survive? What will the new normal look like?  These are the questions and thoughts on everyone’s minds.

Those of us in the Home Building industry tend to have a take charge, I can fix any problem if you just get out of my way personality.  That is a wonderful trait until circumstances arise that are completely out of our control and there is nothing you can to do fix things.  That is when we become frustrated, anxious and feel powerless.

One benefit of being a Home Builder a long time is knowing that challenging times are always lurking around the next corner.  Some events we can see coming.  Others, like Covid-19, completely blindside us.  Those of us in the building industry are resilient and we have survived challenges in the past.   In my own career I have survived the 80’s credit tightening with 17% mortgage rates, the Oil Bust, the S&L crisis and credit crunch, the .Com bubble bursting, 9-11 and the Great Recession.  Those of us in the industry around for those crises, persevered by staying calm and knowing that the bad times will end and good times will return.

You get through the tough economic times with great communications with your customers, your suppliers, subs and most of all your bankers.  You have to be flexible, innovative and willing to accept the new norm, whatever that may be.  It’s also important to support the Home Builders Association, especially during a crisis.  It is the Association on a Local, State and National level that brings the collective strength and influence of all of us to bear on decisions made about our industry.

I saw this first hand during my tenure on the National Association of Home Builders leadership team. During the boom before the financial meltdown, new home production topped 2 million units in 2007.   It dropped to 400,000 units in 2009, the year I was Chairman.  Even though we saw the problems looming, no one knew the depth of the slide we would endure.  Everyone was asking the same questions we are today: How did this happen? Will I survive?  How long will it last? What will the new normal be?  Through the constant conversations with the new Obama administration, bank regulators, legislative leaders and the Federal Reserve, we were able to put together two stimulus packages in the same year, save the mortgage market and set the stage for a recovery.  The Local and State Associations throughout the Federation did their part as well.  It was hard.  The recovery took longer than anyone wanted.  A new norm was established in mortgage lending, construction loans and appraisals.  But we not only survived, we flourished in the last few years.  

Now we meet our next challenge, Covid-19.  This is certainly an event no one saw coming.  The frustrating part of this episode is that it not only affects the health of our business but it can literally be lethal to our physical health as well.  Again, our Association has been on the forefront in keeping our industry alive.  Our leaders here in Tulsa and Oklahoma convinced our Mayors and Governor to designate home building an essential business.  NAHB is working tirelessly to keep credit markets liquid and was successful in removing the exemption of home builders from the Payroll Protection Program.

When you are in the middle of a storm, it is hard to remember the sun is still shining. Going into this crisis, business was very good.  That momentum should help us bridge the downturn on the short term. Long term, the world has to go back to work.  President Trump announced his initial guidelines for restarting the economy.  Governor Stitt has put a task force together to reopen the State.  The Mayors of the area cities are convening working groups to plan for the rebooting of business.  Reports of treatments of the virus are encouraging and it seems the number of cases has hit its peak.  There are a few hints of sunshine.    

I know we will get through this just like we have done in the past.  People will always need homes and I can think of no other profession that brings more joy than providing the American Dream.  In the meantime, if you are not too busy, take time to reconnect with family, reflect on priorities, and pray.  

God Bless Everyone,

Joe Robson      

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Posted on April 14, 2020 by Jorie Helms

webinar of marketing strategies to get through coronavirus

With prospective buyer traffic severely diminished in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, home builders would be wise to scale back on their advertising investments. But cutting across the board is reckless and could lead to long-term challenges.

To help business owners and sales teams determine how and where to adjust their marketing strategies, NAHB will host a webinar in partnership with the online sales and marketing group Do You Convert on Thursday, April 16, from 1-2 p.m. Central Time 

Keep Your Traffic Flowing: A Marketing Playbook for COVID-19” will examine lessons learned during previous shocks to the market and share how those principles — coupled with the latest digital and virtual marketing tools — can be applied to our current market challenges. Webinar participants will also learn a step-by-step playbook for which efforts to turn down, as well as when and how to efficiently realign their advertising strategies once markets stabilize.

This will be the latest in a series of webinars hosted by NAHB focused on answering common questions and concerns from housing industry professionals pertaining to many impacts of the coronavirus. Each webinar provides valuable insights for how to strategically navigate a business through this challenging and uncertain economy.

To attend the webinar “Keep Your Traffic Flowing: A Marketing Playbook for COVID-19,” register here.

You can also view recordings of previous webinars about small business loans, jobsite safety, tax relief provisions and more on nahb.org.

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Posted on April 6, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Learn three key tips to help your business pivot to a virtual experience, remain effective, and keep your clients well informed.

Here is Mabél Guzmán, the National Association of Realtor's 2020 VP of Association Affairs, sharing her extensive experience with virtual showings. Home builders are using virtual showings, in addition to other social distancing strategies, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn three key tips to help your business pivot to a virtual experience, remain effective, and keep your clients well informed.

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Posted on March 31, 2020 by Jorie Helms

In a critical win for NAHB and the residential construction sector, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today designated construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an “Essential Infrastructure Business.”

The designation will enable many home building firms to keep their businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic and help to stabilize the housing industry and its supply chain in the near term. More detail about the construction workers who qualify as essential can be found in both the “Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services” and “Residential/Facilities and Services” sections of the guidance.

Keep in mind that there is no mandatory federal order on what is an essential business, and many states have their own rules. This is guidance from DHS that states can follow. Therefore, in states where only essential businesses are allowed to keep operations going during the coronavirus epidemic, residential construction workers should continue to be allowed to stay on the job.

NAHB was at the forefront among all housing groups in calling on DHS to make this designation.

“Americans depend on a functioning residential construction sector to provide safe, affordable housing for our citizens, and this need is especially acute during this pandemic,” said NAHB Chairman Dean Mon. “Moreover, a healthy housing market is critical to maintain a sound economy. I commend DHS for heeding the urgent concerns of the housing community and taking this decisive action to assure the men and women of the industry will be able to stay on the job and serve the needs of the American people at this critical time.”

On March 26, in an effort spearheaded by NAHB, 90 companies and organizations sent a joint letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Jack Wolf urging him to designate the construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an Essential Infrastructure Business.

“As cities and states issue declarations and public health orders as a result of the crisis, it is essential that communities have access to our professionals to build and maintain essential services including: building, plumbing, residential property management, rental housing operators, roofing, electrical, HVAC systems, waste/wastewater treatment plants and power generations,” the letter stated. “Home construction, including those industries listed above, should be designated as ‘essential’ because it is necessary to maintain safety, sanitation, and economic security.”

The safety and health of all those who work in construction remains our top priority. The industry continues to adhere to all public health guidelines set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Working on a new unfinished home site occurs primarily outdoors and does not involve going onto a location occupied by residents or a public location, and there is minimal (if any) physical or transactional contact with customers.

Access the latest NAHB news and business resources to respond to this challenge at the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response section on nahb.org.

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Posted on March 20, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Introduction 

In the event of a pandemic, employers have a key role in protecting the safety and health of their employees as well as in limiting the impact on the economy and society.  A business may experience employee absences and interrupted supply and delivery schedules.  Good planning will allow employers in both the public and private sectors to better address issues that will arise. 

While there is a difference between seasonal flu and a pandemic respiratory virus, symptoms and response can be the same or similar.  Seasonal flu is an annual occurrence.  Many get sick and unfortunately, deaths do occur.  Vaccines are available and many have some immunity.  A “new” virus such as COVID-19 may have worldwide implications.  Initially there is no immunity and there are no vaccines; this may result in higher levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss. 

Implications in the workplace and for your business can vary widely depending on the product or service you provide.  Many “critical” industries are already mandated to have pandemic plans in place.  This list includes: Government Facilities, Dams, Commercial Facilities, Nuclear Power Plants, Critical Infrastructure, Food and Agriculture, Public Health and Healthcare, Banking and Finance, Chemical and Hazardous Materials, Defense Industrial Base, Water, Energy, Emergency Services, Information Technology, Telecommunications, Postal and Shipping, Transportation, and National Monuments and Icons. 

How a Pandemic Can Affect the Workplace 

While your business may not be considered a “critical industry”, implications for being unprepared may have significant impacts on your business and employees as follows:

  • Absenteeism - A pandemic could affect a large percent of the workforce.  Employees could be absent because they are sick, they must care for family members, they are afraid to come to work, or unbeknown to the employer, the employee may have died. 
  • Change in patterns of commerce – Consumer demand for items related to infection control is likely to increase, while interest in other goods may decline.  They may change the ways they shop.  They may try to shop at off-peak hours to reduce contact with others, or show increased interest in home delivery services, or drive-through service, to reduce person-to-person contact. 
  • Interrupted supply/delivery - Shipments from geographic areas severely affected may be delayed or canceled.  We live in a global economy so this may greatly affect business.

Employee risks of occupational exposure to a virus during a pandemic may vary from very high to high, medium, or lower (caution) risk.  The level of risk depends in part on whether or not jobs require close proximity to people potentially infected with the virus, or whether they are required to have either repeated or extended contact with known or suspected sources of pandemic virus such as coworkers, the general public, outpatients, school children or other such individuals or groups. 

Pandemic planning resources are based on past pandemic scenarios and would apply to COVID-19 pending further information.  It is unlikely that any significant changes will be made to this guidance. 

Additional guidance information and documents specifically for pandemic planning and response for business as bulleted below can be found on OSHA's Pandemic Influenza website, and on the CDC website

Specific checklists for business planning including those with overseas operations can be found on the CDC website

Maintaining Operations During a Pandemic 

As an employer, you have an important role in protecting employee health and safety and limiting the impact of an influenza pandemic. OSHA recommends a systematic approach to planning.  

Develop a Disaster Plan That Includes Pandemic Preparedness

Issues to consider and plan for:

  • Be aware of and review federal, regional, and local health department pandemic plans, and integrate into your plan.  
  • Prepare and plan for operations with a reduced workforce. 
  • Develop a sick leave policy that does not penalize sick employees, thereby encouraging those who are sick to stay home. Recognize that employees with ill family members may need to stay home to care for them.
  • Identify possible exposure and health risks to your employees.
  • Minimize exposure to fellow employees or the public.
  • Identify business-essential positions and people required to sustain business-necessary functions and operations. Prepare to cross-train or develop ways to function in the absence of these positions.
  • Plan for downsizing services but also anticipate any scenario which may require a surge in your services.
  • Recognize that, in the course of normal daily life, all employees will have non-occupational risk factors at home and in community settings.
  • Stockpile items such as soap, tissue, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies & recommended PPE.
  • Provide employees and customers with easy access to infection control supplies.
  • Develop policies and practices that distance employees from each other, customers and the general public.
  • Identify a team to serve as a communication source so that employees and customers can have accurate information during the crisis.
  • Work with employees & their union(s) to address leave, pay, transportation, childcare, absence & other human resource issues.
  • Provide training, education and informational material about business-essential job functions and employee health and safety.
  • Work with your insurance companies, and state and local health agencies to provide information to employees and customers about medical care in the event of a pandemic.
  • Assist employees in managing additional stressors related to the pandemic.

Protecting Your Employees

For most employers, protecting their employees will depend on stressing proper hygiene (disinfecting hands and surfaces) and practicing social distancing.  Social distancing means reducing the frequency, proximity, and duration of contact between people (both employees and customers) to reduce the chances of spreading the virus and illness from person-to-person. 

OSHA, and the safety profession at large, recognizes and encourages the framework called the "hierarchy of controls" to select ways of dealing with workplace hazards.  An expanded discussion of these 4 levels of control can be found on the OSHA website referenced above however, in brief, there are 4 levels of control: 

  • Work Practice Controls
  • Engineering Controls 
  • Administrative Controls 
  • Personal Protective Equipment.

Work Practice and Engineering Controls 

Historically, infection control professionals have relied on personal protective equipment (for example, surgical masks and gloves) to serve as a physical barrier in order to prevent the transmission of an infectious disease from one person to another.  This reflects the fact that close interactions with infectious patients is an unavoidable part of many healthcare occupations.  The principles of industrial hygiene demonstrate that work practice controls and engineering controls can also serve as barriers to transmission and are less reliant on employee behavior to provide protection.  

Work practice controls are procedures for safe and proper work that are used to reduce the duration, frequency or intensity of exposure to a hazard.  When defining safe work practice controls, it is a good idea to ask your employees for their suggestions, since they have firsthand experience with the tasks.  These controls should be understood and followed by managers, supervisors and employees.  When work practice controls are insufficient to protect employees, some employers may also need engineering controls.

Engineering controls involve making changes to the work environment to reduce work-related hazards. These types of controls are preferred over all others because they make permanent changes that reduce exposure to hazards and do not rely on employee or customer behavior.  By reducing a hazard in the workplace, engineering controls can be the most cost-effective solutions for employers to implement.

Coronavirus disease is NOT known to spread through ventilation systems or through water.

During a pandemic, engineering controls may be effective in reducing exposure to some sources of pandemic influenza and not others.  For example, installing sneeze guards between customers and employees would provide a barrier to transmission.  The use of barrier protections, such as sneeze guards, is common practice for both infection control and industrial hygiene.  However, while the installation of sneeze guards may reduce or prevent transmission between customers and employees, transmission may still occur between coworkers.  Therefore, administrative controls and public health measures should be implemented along with engineering controls.

 Examples of work practice controls include: 

  • Providing resources and a work environment that promotes personal hygiene. For example, provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and disposable towels for employees to clean their work surfaces.
  • Encouraging employees to obtain a seasonal influenza vaccine (this helps to prevent illness from seasonal influenza strains that may continue to circulate). 
  • Providing employees with up-to-date education and training on influenza risk factors, protective behaviors, and instruction on proper behaviors (for example, cough ettiquette and care of personal protective equipment).

  • Developing policies to minimize contacts between employees and between employees and clients or customers.

More information about protecting yourself, your coworkers and employees, and your family can be found at www.pandemicflu.gov.

 Examples of engineering controls include: 

  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects: use soap and water, a bleach and water solution, or approved products to clean items such as handrails and doorknobs (always follow product label directions) 
  • Installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards.
  • Installing a drive-through window for customer service.
  • Coronavirus disease is NOT known to spread through ventilation systems or through water.

Administrative Controls 

Administrative controls include controlling employees' exposure by scheduling their work tasks in ways that minimize their exposure levels. Examples of administrative controls include: 

  • Developing policies that encourage ill employees to stay at home without fear of any reprisals.
  • The discontinuation of unessential travel to locations with high illness transmission rates.
  • Consider practices to minimize face-to-face contact between employees such as e-mail, websites and teleconferences. Where possible, encourage flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting or flexible work hours to reduce the number of your employees who must be at work at one time or in one specific location.
  • Consider home delivery of goods and services to reduce the number of clients or customers who must visit your workplace.
  • Developing emergency communications plans.  Maintain a forum for answering employees' concerns. Develop internet-based communications if feasible. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

While administrative and engineering controls and proper work practices are considered to be more effective in minimizing exposure to the influenza virus, the use of PPE may also be indicated during certain exposures.  If used correctly, PPE can help prevent some exposures; however, they should not take the place of other prevention interventions, such as engineering controls, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene (see www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm).  

Examples of personal protective equipment are gloves, goggles, face shields, surgical masks, and respirators (for example, N-95).  It is important that personal protective equipment be: 

  • Selected based upon the hazard to the employee;
  • Properly fitted and some must be periodically refitted (e.g., respirators);
  • Conscientiously and properly worn;
  • Regularly maintained and replaced, as necessary;
  • Properly removed and disposed of to avoid contamination of self, others or the environment. 

Employers are obligated to provide their employees with protective gear needed to keep them safe while performing their jobs.  Check the www.pandemicflu.gov website for the latest guidance. 

Steps Every Employer Can Take to Reduce the Risk of Exposure to a Pandemic in Their Workplace

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection.  The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Encourage sick employees to stay at home.
  • Encourage your employees to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or with hand sanitizer if there is no soap or water available. Also, encourage your employees to avoid touching their noses, mouths, and eyes.
  • Encourage your employees to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or to cough and sneeze into their upper sleeves if tissues are not available. All employees should wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer after they cough, sneeze or blow their noses.
  • Employees should avoid close contact with their coworkers and customers (maintain a separation of at least 6 feet). They should avoid shaking hands and always wash their hands after contact with others. Even if employees wear gloves, they should wash their hands upon removal of the gloves in case their hand(s) became contaminated during the removal process.
  • Provide customers and the public with tissues and trash receptacles, and with a place to wash or disinfect their hands.
  • Keep work surfaces, telephones, computer equipment and other frequently touched surfaces and office equipment clean. Be sure that any cleaner used is safe and will not harm your employees or your office equipment. Use only disinfectants registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and follow all directions and safety precautions indicated on the label.
  • Discourage your employees from using other employees' phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment.
  • Minimize situations where groups of people are crowded together, such as in a meeting. Use e-mail, phones and text messages to communicate with each other. When meetings are necessary, avoid close contact by keeping a separation of at least 6 feet, where possible, and assure that there is proper ventilation in the meeting room.
  • Reducing or eliminating unnecessary social interactions can be very effective in controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Reconsider all situations that permit or require employees, customers, and visitors (including family members) to enter the workplace. Workplaces which permit family visitors on site should consider restricting/eliminating that option during an influenza pandemic. Work sites with on-site day care should consider in advance whether these facilities will remain open or will be closed, and the impact of such decisions on employees and the business.
  • Promote healthy lifestyles, including good nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation. A person's overall health impacts their body's immune system and can affect their ability to fight off, or recover from, an infectious disease. 

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. They are the same guidelines that can help prevent the spread of seasonal flu and the common cold. 

Workplaces Classified at Lower Exposure Risk (caution) for Pandemic: What to do to protect employees

If your workplace does not require employees to have frequent contact with the general public, basic personal hygiene practices and social distancing can help protect employees at work.  Follow general hygiene and social distancing practices recommended for all workplaces.  Also, try the following: 

  • Communicate to employees what options may be available to them for working from home.
  • Communicate the office leave policies, policies for getting paid, transportation issues, and day care concerns.
  • Make sure that your employees know where supplies for hand hygiene are located.
  • Monitor public health communications about pandemic flu recommendations and ensure that your employees also have access to that information.
  • Work with your employees to designate a person(s), website, bulletin board, or other means of communicating important pandemic flu information.

More information about protecting employees and their families can be found at: www.pandemicflu.gov

Workplaces Classified at Medium Exposure Risk for Pandemic: What to do to protect employees

Medium risk workplaces require frequent close contact between employees or with the general public (such as high-volume retail stores).  If this contact cannot be avoided, there are practices to reduce the risk of infection.  In addition to the basic work practices that every workplace should adopt, medium risk occupations require employers to address enhanced safety and health precautions.  Below are some of the issues that employers should address when developing plans for workplace safety and health during a pandemic.

Work Practice and Engineering Controls 

  • Instruct employees to avoid close contact (within 6 ft/2m) with other employees and the general public.  This can be accomplished by simply increasing the distance between the employee and the general public in order to avoid contact with large droplets from people talking, coughing or sneezing.
  • Some organizations can expand internet, phone-based, drive-through window, or home delivery customer service strategies to minimize face-to-face contact. Work with your employees to identify new ways to do business that can also help to keep employees and customers safe and healthy.
  • Communicate the availability of medical screening or other employee health resources (e.g., on-site nurse or employee wellness program to check for flu-like symptoms before employees enter the workplace).
  • Employers also should consider installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, to protect employees where possible (such as cashier stations). 

Administrative Controls 

  • Work with your employees so that they understand the office leave policies, policies for getting paid, transportation issues, and day care concerns.
  • Make sure that employees know where supplies for hand and surface hygiene are located.
  • Work with your employees to designate a person(s), website, bulletin board or other means of communicating important pandemic flu information.
  • Use signs to keep customers informed about symptoms of the flu, and ask sick customers to minimize contact with your employees until they are well.
  • Your workplace may consider limiting access to customers and the general public, or ensuring that they can only enter certain areas of your workplace. 

For More Information

Federal, regional, and local government agencies are the best source of information should a pandemic occur.  It is important to stay informed about the latest developments and recommendations since specific guidance may change based upon the characteristics of the eventual pandemic influenza strain, (for example, severity of disease, importance of various modes of transmission).

Below are several recommended websites that you can rely on for the most current and accurate information:

www.cdc.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html 

CDC Coronovirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary

www.pandemicflu.gov 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; offers one-stop access, including toll-free phone numbers, to U.S. government avian and pandemic flu information.

www.osha.gov

Occupational Safety and Health Administration website

www.cdc.gov/niosh 

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website

www.fda.gov/cdrh/ppe/fluoutbreaks.html

U.S. Food and Drug Administration website

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html

Public Health Agency of Canada

Summary 

Diligence, Prevention, & Mitigation are Key 

Following recognized practices to avoid exposures common to any respiratory virus will help to keep the threat posed by Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in check.

Proper planning can help protect your employees, customers, and your business. 

HUB International is also monitoring developments in order to offer assistance and guidance to our clients as they weigh their potential responses to this developing situation.  

Additional information on managing a public health emergency in the workplace can be found at https://www.hubinternational.com/blog/2016/11/preparing-your-business-for-a-pandemic/.  

Please reach out to your local HUB service team if you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance. 

For Additional Information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC Travelers’ Health: Novel Coronavirus in China

CDC Health Alert Network Advisory Update and Interim Guidance on Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan, China

CDC Health Alert Network Advisory information for state and local health departments and health care providers

CDC Information on Coronaviruses

Nonpharmaceutical interventions

Symptoms associated with COVID-19

Guidance to help in the risk assessment and management

CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others

World Health Organization

World Health Organization, Coronavirus

Public Health Canada

Current situation

How Canada is monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection

Risk to Canadians

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Posted on February 27, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Aggregate Producer’s Annual Event Recognized by Oklahoma Asphalt Pavement Association

Dolese Bros. Co. has won the Oklahoma Asphalt Pavement Association’s (OAPA) Community Champion Award for organizing and hosting Rock the Block, a community-focused construction industry Touch-A-Truck event. Dolese received the award at the 2020 OAPA Asphalt Conference on Feb. 24 in Norman.

“We launched Rock the Block in 2017 as a community outreach event with our construction industry partners to give the public an up-close and hands-on opportunity to learn about what our industry does and the equipment we do it with,” Dolese Director of Communications and Community Relations Kermit Frank said. “The event, which benefits Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, allows Oklahomans the opportunity to interact with the equipment that helps build Oklahoma’s roads, bridges and buildings.”

Oklahoma’s leading aggregates and concrete producer held its third annual Rock the Block event in Aug. 2019 at its headquarters in Oklahoma City and invited construction industry partners from across the state to participate. Families attending the event explored trucks, equipment and interactive displays, posed for photographs from the driver’s seat of assembled vehicles and enjoyed grilled hot dogs. The event benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as well as the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

Dolese employees volunteered throughout the event to educate the public about Dolese’s operations and the impact of the construction industry on the city. The employees played a crucial part in executing the event to ensure its success.

The OAPA is a non-profit trade association representing the asphalt producers operating in and for the state of Oklahoma since 1971. OAPA producer members account for approximately 90 percent of all asphalt production within the state. The 2020 OAPA Asphalt Conference was held from Feb. 24-25 at the Embassy Suites in Norman.

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Posted on February 24, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Oklahoma Home Builders Association to start new headquarters

By Richard Mize
Real estate editor rmize@oklahoman.com

State homebuilders are building a new building for themselves, a new headquarters just north of the state Capitol.

The Oklahoma Home Builders Association (OKHBA) is set to begin construction Monday at 3520 N Lincoln Blvd. on land acquired from the Oklahoma Asphalt Pavement Association next door, said Mike Means, executive vice president of the builders trade group.

The builders association approved the new office building last fall on what is generally seen as the entryway to the Capitol complex.

It is meant to be noticed by lawmakers, who are just three weeks into the four-month legislative session less than a mile away.

Visibility and proximity to the government went into the selection of the site, Means said.

“We are the state advocacy branch for this association,” he said. "Our presence at the state Capitol is critical for our members. As we often say here at OKHBA, if you don’t have a seat at the table, you may find yourself on the menu.”

The two-story, residential-style office building will have 6,432 square feet of space including a 2,000-square-foot classroom and education center. It will have an expansive entry to display the Oklahoma Housing Hall of Fame.

It will be nearly three times the size of the builders' present headquarters at 917 NE 63, which was built in 1982.

The builders group couldn't say what it will cost to build because much of the labor and materials will be donated, spokesman Jorie Helms said. The building permit issued by the city estimates the cost at $850,000.

Construction will be led by Dan Reeves with Landmark Fine Homes in Norman, with assistance from Curtis McCarty with C.A. McCarty Construction in Norman, Mike Gilles with Savannah Builders in Edmond and Todd Booze with Ideal Homes of Norman. The architect is Tim Palone with TP Architecture, Bethany.

“We are ready to get this project started,” said Reeves, who is chairman of the building committee. “We’ve had so many donations from members who know this is the next step in helping our association grow.”

The large meeting room will have an attached warming kitchen — where catered food can be finished or kept warm — for training and events, Palone said. The foyer, in addition to housing the Hall of Fame, will be big enough for events, he said.

The building design is "a traditional style with only materials typically used in Oklahoma residential construction," Palone said, with a dark-colored shingle roof, mostly brick and stone exterior, some timber columns and accents at the entry, and large windows facing Lincoln.

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Posted on February 17, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Strong Foundation: Legacy of Dolese Bros. Co. set in Oklahoma stone!

By: Steve Metzer The Journal Record February 14, 2020 # 0 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Other companies with names like Devon and Chesapeake benefit from being identified with some of the most iconic buildings in Oklahoma. 

And that’s OK with Mark Helm. He knows that deep within the bones of those better-known companies – or at least within the bones of their buildings – lies his own Dolese Bros. Co. 

Were it not for Dolese Bros., the Devon Energy Center as it now stands as the most recognizable building in Oklahoma City would not be. Were it not for Dolese, the Chesapeake Energy Arena would not stand as it does, as the proud home of the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Other Oklahoma icons, too, like Route 66, owe their existence at least in part to the Dolese Bros. Co., which traces its history to before statehood and was there, literally, at the foundation of communities from Altus to Woodward and from Bartlesville to Idabel. In fact, few companies – if there are any at all – would be able to lay claim to a breadth of history and geography in the Sooner State that might rival that of the Dolese Bros. Co. 

   

Dolese Bros. Co. President Mark Helm stands with a display of photos and artifacts dedicated to the company’s long history in Oklahoma. (Photo by Steve Metzer) 

And the company, known for transforming the state’s raw rock into everything from highway overpasses to libraries, didn’t even begin here. 

Helm, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said Dolese, which formally incorporated in 1902, actually can trace its roots to 1857 when 20-year-old John Dolese went into the paving business in Chicago. Fate and railroad construction drew his descendants west, and by 1907 Dolese Bros. Co. had a contract to mine ballast for the Rock Island Railroad at a quarry at a place called Richards Spur not far from Lawton. In 1908, the company bought a second quarry in such a remote spot in Murray County that Dolese workers became just about the only occupants of the tiny community of Dougherty. 

From that point, the future of Dolese Bros. and Co. in Oklahoma was set in stone. 

In 1910, the company bought a site in Oklahoma City between 13th and 14th streets adjoining the Santa Fe Railroad. It also purchased 10 dump wagons and 20 large horses to haul crushed stone and coal hand-shoveled from the rail cars to construction sites throughout the city. 

Dolese entered the ready-mixed concrete business in 1927 and over time also furnished large volumes of stone and sand used at road construction and other sites across a broad region. 

“We like to say we built communities from the ground up, or at least supplied the products,” Helm said. “If you think about anything that gets built – anything – it’s going to start with crushed stone, sand, concrete or asphalt. We have plenty of competition, but we are one of the major players here in the state.” 

In fact, as a supplier of crushed stone products, Dolese ranks in the top 15 in the country. It’s among the top 30 

suppliers of ready-mix nationwide. That accounts for “many millions of tons” of stone and sand taken from eight quarries scattered across Oklahoma, including the original and largest one at Richards Spur and also from operations near Ponca City, Hartshorne, Coleman, Davis, Ardmore, Cooperton and Roosevelt. The company also has four stone yards, four sand operations and 45 ready-mix plants in the state, employing more than 1,000 people at about 65 locations. 

Helm said that on any given weekday, between 600 and 700 trucks might haul raw rock away from a typical Dolese quarry. The three main types are limestone, dolemite and gabbro. 

“We do out of our quarries somewhere around 13.5 million tons a year,” he said. “About 2 million tons of sand comes out of sand operations in a year.” 

Everything from riprap seen along banks of the Oklahoma River to fine-ground materials used in the construction of skyscrapers can be traced back to Dolese quarries. 

“What’s cool about the Devon tower is that it is concrete all the way to the top,” Helm said, “which a lot of people don’t realize. The skeleton of that building is all concrete, and it all came from the Richards Spur quarry, from 300 feet down all the way to the top of that structure. ... We are not the only producer, but we’ve been lucky enough to be really involved in Oklahoma City, with the Devon tower, the BOK tower, Chesapeake Arena, the new Omni Hotel and other projects.” 

The company is deeply invested in Oklahoma in other ways as well. Years ago, before his death, Roger Dolese, who had guided the company for more than 60 years, determined that he wanted Dolese to remain private but to become employee-owned over time. He also had a vision to leverage money made by the company to benefit engineering programs and students at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University. So, after he died all of the stock he’d bought from family members and friends was ordered to be held in a foundation and redeemed over time with proceeds to be donated to the three universities. When stock is redeemed from each of the universities, new stock is distributed to a profit sharing plan for employees. Over the past dozen years or so, Dolese has redeemed about $30 million worth from the universities. Employees now own about 15% of the business and the three universities have been able to make significant investments in engineering schools and to double the number of graduates in fields ranging from electrical to aerospace engineering. 

“Obviously some of them end up in construction, but it is all engineering fields, and we think that helps our communities as a whole,” Helm said. 

The company also has invested in science, technology, engineering and math programs in public schools in Oklahoma and hosts field trips to quarries for elementary and middle school students. 

Helm said the company’s efforts have been rewarded by the loyalty of employees. Multiple generations of some families have contributed to Dolese’s long history in Oklahoma. There are many long-tenured employees, including one at Richards Spur who recently marked a half-century on the job. 

“They feel like they have some ownership in the business. We think it’s had a major impact on our performance as a business,” Helm said. 

While not many companies in Oklahoma can trace their incorporated histories back 118 years, as Dolese can, even fewer might be able to anticipate remaining in business into the next century and beyond, but Dolese can. 

“This product does not have a replacement. Even ready-mix concrete does not have a replacement right now,” Helm said, “so the challenge for us is to really be efficient and to be good neighbors so we can continue to be in business another 118 years.” 

By: Steve Metzer The Journal Record

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Posted on January 29, 2020 by Jorie Helms

A small uptick in home prices or mortgage rates can have a big impact on housing affordability.

The latest study from NAHB determined that for every $1,000 increase in the cost of today’s median U.S. home price, 158,857 American households are “priced out” and would no longer be able to afford it. In other words, based on their incomes, 158,857 households would be able to qualify for a mortgage to purchase the home before the price increase, but not afterward.

Those numbers are even more staggering when looking at potential interest rate increases. It takes only a quarter-point rise in the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to price approximately 1.3 million households out of that segment of the market and force them to set their sights lower than a median-priced home –- or delay their home purchase altogether.

More details, including priced out estimates for every state and over 300 metropolitan areas, and a description of the underlying methodology, are available in the full study.

NAHB economist Na Zhao provides further analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.

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Posted on January 29, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Markets in the South and West will experience the highest housing activity in 2020, as more millennials move out of big cities in search of more affordable markets, according to experts who shared some of the latest industry trends during last week’s International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

“Millennials will dominate housing in 2020 and account for 50% of mortgage originations,” said George Ratiu, a senior economist at realtor.com. He added that they will be leaving expensive metros for more affordable markets.

“Millennials will be moving to mid-sized cities like Boise, Idaho; Tucson; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Columbia, South Carolina. These cities offer good weather, suburban downtowns and lifestyle amenities.”

Looking at this key demographic more closely, Ratiu said:

  • 1-in-4 millennials have been looking for a home for more than a year.
  • 16% are searching for homes in urban areas.
  • 34% are looking for homes in the suburbs.
  • 45% are seeking homes in small towns and rural areas.

Summing up his findings, Ratiu said that in 2020:

  • Millennials will demand an affordable product.
  • Mortgage rates will remain attractive.
  • Lesser markets will shine.
  • Baby boomers are not moving.

Ali Wolf, director of economic research for Meyers Research based in Costa Mesa, California, also noted that boomers are staying put.

“Boomers [say] they are not selling because ‘we don’t need to.’ Only 17% of boomers are dissatisfied with their current home,” said Wolf.

Other factors that are keeping boomers at home are that 23% have no retirement savings and 30% of those in the 62-66 age range have postponed retirement.

As for millennials, they are also facing affordability and supply constraints. “Affordability is the biggest obstacle to buying a home,” said Wolf. “Only 5% of millennials want to rent. They are the largest buyer demographic but faced with a supply shortage.”

Looking at public and private builders, Carl Reichardt, managing director at BTIG headquartered in San Francisco, said that 8-out-10 private builders expect sales will rise in 2020.

“Labor and land costs are their biggest worry,” he said. “Builders still appear cautious on pricing. Very few are raising prices aggressively.”

Meanwhile, Reichardt said that public builders account for 36% of all new homes in the U.S. market.  (NAHB data show the top 20 builders accounted for 29% of all single-family starts in 2018.) Among the top 50 markets in the country, Reichardt said a public builder is No. 1 in terms of volume in 36 of these markets.

Reichardt said that public builders are not looking to get into all markets but instead are focusing on local market share in the metros they are currently engaged in.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz, who moderated the session, said that while the industry continues to face significant labor issues on the supply side, 2020 might be the year that labor shortages stop getting worse.

For more on the economic impacts of housing, visit nahb.org.

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Posted on January 29, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Millennials are buying homes. This much is known. But, despite the much-discussed generation making their entrance into the housing market, many still are still very uneasy about the process.

To try to get into the minds of millennials, TD Bank surveyed more than 850 millennials (which it categorizes as age 23-38) who are planning to buy their first home in 2020.

According to TD Bank’s First-Time Homebuyer Pulse, 68% said they think now is the right time to buy a home and 52% are actively searching home listings online.

But, 75% of first-time Millennial homebuyers admit they’re overwhelmed by the process of buying a home.

As for what’s weighing on millennials’ minds, the answers vary.

(Image courtesy of TD Bank. Click to enlarge.)

Just over half of those surveyed said they are worried about their job stability when it comes to looking for somewhere to live.

Meanwhile, 35% said they are thinking about their relationship with their significant other, 57% said they are worried about the state of the economy, and 47% said they are keeping in mind potential policy changes in the 2020 election – all of which play a role in their homebuying anxiety.

Unsurprisingly, student loan debt is playing a role too. Just over 40% of Americans who graduated in the last 20 years said they have delayed purchasing a home because of their student loan debt, the report said.

Even though a big chunk of Millennials say they are planning to purchase a home in the next 12 months, only 52% said they have started saving for a down payment, and 53% have reviewed their credit reports.

Meanwhile, only 42% said they have established a budget for their home purchase and only 30% have spoken with a mortgage lender.

“It continues to amaze me how many buyers begin their home search without first speaking with a mortgage lender,” said Rick Bechtel, head of U.S. residential lending at TD Bank. “A knowledgeable loan officer will work hand-in-hand with a buyer to help them understand mortgage and homeownership costs and establish a realistic budget. To put the cart before the horse is to pursue a significant life decision with possibly incomplete or inaccurate information.”

A decent amount said they feel prepared to buy, but it’s that same amount that said steep home prices are keeping them from purchasing a home in the neighborhood they desire, 22% both cases.

Of those respondents, 36% said they thought homes were overpriced. On the other end, 17% of buyers said they have yet to buy a home because they enjoy renting in their current neighborhood, but can’t afford to buy there.

“The millennial cohort of homebuyers is unlike any other in history,” said Bechtel. “They grew up during the explosion of personal technology, the fall of the housing market and the renaissance of the rental market. And as our survey found, their expectations of homeownership are shaped by all of it.”

Although Millennials were considerably young during the housing crisis in 2008, 67% said they are familiar with the housing crisis, while 55% said their family or a family they knew lost their home.

Those who were influenced by the housing crisis said it made them nervous to buy a home (47%), and a whopping 70% said they view the housing market as fragile.

And in an offshoot of that, 85% of buyers who said their families lost their home during the 2008 housing crisis said they will receive financial help from their parents when they go to buy their first home.

The most common way parents are contributing to the child’s home purchase is in the form of their child’s down payment (33%), followed by closing costs (20%), monthly mortgage payments (17%) or by co-signing the loan (9%).

All in all, mom and dad are still the role models for many of these Millennials. Case in point, 37% say they regularly ask their parents for advice about homebuying.

By  Reporter HousingWire

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Posted on January 14, 2020 by Jorie Helms

The top three were the same for all homes priced under $5 million

Point2 Homes, a real estate listing website, analyzed the language in 1.2 million home listings across the U.S. and came up with the most common phrases.

The three most frequently-used feature descriptions for homes priced under $5 million were: “granite countertops,” “hardwood floors,” and “stainless steel appliances.” Next on the list: “open floor plan,” “fenced backyard,” and “covered patio.”

For homes priced under $250,000, other words in the top 10 had to do with minimizing post-purchase costs, to attract first-time buyers who wanted to keep a lid on expenses. So, “new roof” and “move-in ready” were among the most common.

In the $250,000 to $499,000 range, words like “dual sinks,” “natural light,” and “formal dining room” rounded out the top 10. Meanwhile, in the $500,000 to $999,999 range, the most popular feature descriptions after the top three that all listings had in common were: “perfect location,” “gas fireplace,” and “vaulted ceilings.”

Among homes in the $1 million to $5 million range “wet bar,” “French doors,” and “natural light” rounded out the top 10 phrases.

Where it gets interesting is when listings were priced over $5 million. Then, the top three phrases were: chef kitchen, pool and spa, and ocean view. That was followed by “wine cellar,” “gourmet kitchen,” “guest house,” and “hardwood floors.”

Focusing just on adjectives, rather than descriptive phrases, the report said “large,” “new,” and “spacious” were among the most common, regardless of price. For locations, “cul-de-sac,” and “close to restaurants and shopping” were frequently used.

Among the most popular descriptive phrases for the exterior of homes, the list was topped by “fire pit,” “private backyard,” and “mature trees,” the report said. Also in the top 10: “sprinkler system,” “large deck” and “storage shed.”

 By 

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Posted on December 23, 2019 by Jorie Helms

On Friday, Dec. 13, Dolese Bros. Co. acquired Standard Material Group assets including the land, buildings and batch plants in Piedmont, Del City, Newcastle, Cushing and Chandler.

“We look forward to adding the Standard Material Group employees and their former locations to the Dolese team of people who are building communities from the ground up,” Dolese Bros. Co. President & CEO Mark Helm said.

Dolese is headquartered in Oklahoma City operating more than 65 facilities throughout Oklahoma offering full-service construction supply and material operation.

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Posted on December 19, 2019 by Jorie Helms

This story shows the impact that Tulsa HBA has on the students from Ryal School each year!

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Posted on December 19, 2019 by Jorie Helms

The NAHB International Builders’ Show® is looking for two video bloggers — or vloggers — to feature their phone-created content on the IBS social channels.

It’s time for young professionals attending the 2020 IBS to show their creative side and share their experiences as an IBS attendee. To be considered, just submit a selfie-style video (around a minute) showcasing your onscreen awesomeness and explain why you should be one of the official 2020 IBS vloggers.

Requirements:

  • NAHB member in good standing
  • 45 years old or younger
  • IBS veteran planning to attend the 2020 show
  • Committed to posting before, during and after the show

How to Apply:

Submission Deadline: Videos must be posted in the Facebook group by Dec. 31, 2019.

Winner Notification: The winners will be notified Jan. 6, 2020.

If you have any questions, please contact Topher McLarty.

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Posted on December 19, 2019 by Jorie Helms

You’re home for the holidays. The halls are decked with boughs of holly. Dad’s drinking eggnog, mom’s drinking almond-nog, your sister is drinking vegan oatmilk chai-nog; all is well … and then it happens. You make one comment about how maybe your mom’s gingerbread house could use some tasteful landscaping, and she takes the opportunity to make a jab about how maybe “you could stop paying money to live in a stranger’s basement.”

You brought up the contentious topic of housing, and now the tidings of comfort and joy have left the building.

Or have they?

As a gift to you this holiday season, the elves at the National Housing Center are offering this simple guide to help kids from one to 92 navigate conversations about housing.

When your dad puts his feet on the ottoman, looks you in the eye and lectures you on the immutability of the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (“If it worked for my generation, then it will work for yours.”)

Let your dad know that we’re going to need sensible housing finance reform if we’re going to keep the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage as an affordable option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the government sponsored mortgage guarantors – have been in conservatorship for 11 years. That’s not sustainable, Dad. It’s important that any new structure include an explicit federal backstop for the housing finance system and protect taxpayer liability. And, we need to provide an effective financing system for multifamily housing.

When your daughter’s TikTok goes viral – wherein, to the tune of The Commodores’ 1977 hit “Brick House,” she blames the older generations for ruining the housing market – and you decide to make this a teachable moment.

Make sure she understands that, for most home builders, the cost of complying with building regulations and codes can account for up to 25 percent of the total cost to build the home – and even more for multifamily housing. Explain to her that housing affordability is a supply-side issue. When regulatory compliance creates roadblocks to making housing affordable, it’s no surprise that homeownership and rental opportunities are being pushed further and further out of reach. And, we need permanent trade solutions to fluctuating material prices, like softwood lumber and Chinese steel, to ensure that housing can remain affordable. Also, your daughter is no longer listening. Just a heads up.

When your son asks if his girlfriend can move in with him in your basement because her part-time job and Uber gig don’t bring in enough money to rent an apartment.

Make a point to let him know there are more than 335,000 unfilled jobs in construction. These are good-paying jobs with benefits. Carpenters, electricians and masons make an average national wage over $51,000 a year, more than three times what a minimum wage worker takes home annually. It’s enough that he should be able to finally move out of what he calls his “garden-level apartment” and, as we all know, every time an adult child moves out of their parents’ house, an angel gets its wings.

When your parents keep reminding you that your cousin Amber is already married and has a nice house in the suburbs with granite countertops (and they have a Bernese Mountain Dog, and fresh eggs every day from their six chickens, and her husband makes the most amazing homemade gin).

Remind them that homeownership is a great option for some – and that you understand that for many households it represents a primary source of wealth, financial security and a gateway to the middle class. But the bottom line is that it is all about housing choice. Some people prefer to rent, and others are unwilling or unable to take on the financial responsibility of owning a home. And the gin isn’t all that good, anyway.

When your grandma doesn’t want to put out the Santa and reindeer decorations in her front yard because “this is probably the year y’all put me in the old folks’ home.”

Gently let her know that there are many options for people who want to stay in their homes as they age. In fact, aging-in-place remodeling is the fastest growing sector of the remodeling market. By hiring a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, she can get what she needs most: reassurance that you’ll help her make the choices that will help her stay in her home safely and securely. By modifying her home with additional task lighting, grab bars, lever door handles and other features, you all can make sure that holiday traditions (and grandma) are around for years to come.

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Posted on November 22, 2019 by Jorie Helms

The Moore Home Builders Association purchased clothing, hats, socks, jackets, sweat shirts and socks for 133 students at Dimensions Academy in Norman, then delivered those Christmas bags of cheer on Wednesday with the help of the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office. Pictured from left to right are: Marvin Haworth, Deputy Phillip Garbriel, Deputy Rafael Hernandez, Sheila Haworth, Deputy Chazdon Anderson, Dimensions Principal Linda Mace, Timmy Smith, Karen Ewing, Sheriff Todd Gibson and Capt. Mike Finley.

-An assortment of clothing and hand-sewn blankets filled Christmas bags of cheer that were delivered Wednesday to 133 alternative education students in Norman.

The project was a joint effort of the Moore Home Builders Association, the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office and The Linus Project, which is a ladies’ quilting group that meets at Moore’s First Christian Church one Saturday each month.

“Every year we try to do something that helps our youth,” said Sheila Haworth, executive officer for the home builders association. “It’s like Sheriff (Todd) Gibson was saying, ‘This is a really important project because if we can’t keep these kids in school they won’t have a future.’”

Students were delighted, excited and almost beyond belief when county deputies delivered the gift bags to Dimensions Academy earlier this week. Dimensions Academy is the alternative education program for Norman Public Schools.

“They (students) looked like they had blank stares on their faces,” Haworth said. “Some of them were like, ‘that’s all for us?’”

The students wrapped the hand-sewn blankets around their bodies and “kept them on the rest of the day,” she said. “It really got their morale up.”

Linus Project spokeswoman Sharene Anderson said her group became involved in the school project because “there was a need.”

“That’s our mission — to provide for children in need and especially the homeless and abused children,” she said. “This is our drive. It’s our life.”

Depending on their schedules, the quilters spend anywhere from “every waking moment to a few hours a month and everywhere in between” on their blankets that are donated to variety of causes.

The quilters gave 140 double-sided, fleece quilts to The Dimensions Academy project, Anderson said. The Linus Project was founded in 1995 and serves Canadian, Cleveland, Grady, Kingfisher, Logan, McClain and Oklahoma counties.

The home builders association, through its $3,500 monetary donation and two other contributions, spent about $4,500 on clothes, hats, socks, jackets, sweatshirts and socks for the 133 students. Haworth and retired teacher Karen Ewing shopped from February until November purchasing the clothing items at any store that offered discounts, including some in Texas.

During one shopping spree, the women loaded a buggy with 120 fleeced jackets at a Norman Old Navy store. The jackets originally sold for $29 each, but the women only paid $8 per jacket.

Prior to that, Haworth and Ewing made a trip to an Allen, Texas, shopping outlet where stores were having going-out-of-business sales. During the trip, they spent about $700 for clothes, including some from name brand store Lou LaRue.

The donations also helped the women purchase enough clothes to establish a clothing pantry at the school for future needs.

-Tim Farley of Norman Transcript 

Article by Norman Transcript 

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Posted on November 13, 2019 by Jorie Helms

Millennials are moving more, spending more and buying more

Continuing a trend that stretches back to one year ago, Millennials are still dominating the homebuying landscape, taking on more mortgages than previous generations.

A report from Realtor.com says that at the end of the third quarter, the Millennial share of mortgage originations increased 3% from last September, coming in at 46%.

(Image courtesy of realtor.com. Click to enlarge.)

Meanwhile, Gen X and Baby Boomer shares continued to fall, to 35% and 17% this year, from 37% and 18% last year, respectively.

As for primary home loan originations, Millennial shares increased also. In September, Millennial share was 44%, up from last year’s 40%.

Gen X shares fell from last year’s 41% to 39%, while Baby Boomer shares fell to 16% from 17% last year.

Millennials were also found to move once every two years, a study from Porch said. Gen Xers moved about every four years and baby boomers stayed in the same place for nearly six years at a time. 

According to the report, Millennials are buying more expensive homes, too.

The median price of a primary home purchased by Millennials went up 6%, to $250,000 compared to last year. Generation X and baby boomers only increased their purchase prices by 5% and 2%, respectively.

(Image courtesy of realtor.com. Click to enlarge.)

Millennials are also increasing the size of loans they are taking out to buy a home, as this generation had a median loan amount of $231,590 in September. This is 7.3% higher than last year.

This growth in mortgage debt undertaken by Millennials outpaces that of both Baby Boomers, which grew by 2.6%, and Generation X, which grew by 4.4%.

-Article by Housing Wire

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Posted on November 13, 2019 by Jorie Helms

More than three out of four millennial home buyers (76%) say that their most wanted bathroom feature is both a shower stall and tub in the master bath, according to a recent report published by NAHB, What Home Buyers Really Want (2019 edition).

The survey indicates that millennials want larger bathrooms to accommodate certain amenities. For example, the second most popular bathroom feature among this key demographic is a double vanity (75%), followed by a linen closet in the master bath (73%), a whirlpool tub (70%) and a private toilet compartment in the master bath (68%).

A dressing/make-up area and a white toilet, tub and sink are also important to millennials, with 67% reporting that each of these items are desirable or essential/must have features.

Millennials also expressed interest in having specific shower features: 66% want multiple shower heads in a master bath and 64% desire a body spray panel in a master bath [shower head(s) plus spray massage jets].

A majority of millennials also prefer a granite vanity (64%). See the Figure 1 chart below for more details. Note: move your cursor along the Figure 1 and Figure 2 charts to view more details.

The report also reveals a wide disparity among bathroom wants between millennials and seniors. The Figure 2 chart below shows at least a 20-point difference among these two demographic groups on a variety of bathroom features.

For example, 46% of millennials desire dual toilets in the master bath while just 14% of seniors prefer this feature. Fifty-five percent of millennials want his and hers baths vs.only 25% of seniors and 70% of millennials want a whirlpool tub in a master bath, compared to 44% of seniors.

NAHB economist Carmel Ford provides more insights in this Eye on Housing blog post.

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Posted on November 5, 2019 by Jorie Helms

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - The Oklahoma Home Builders Association says small towns are cracking down on housing ordinances and it could price people out of living there.

Cities across the state are starting to regulate products that are used to build new homes.

“They’re going after regulating small homes which is what we call affordable homes, or houses that help people that are in the lower socioeconomic brackets being able to purchase their first home,” said Mike Means the Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Home Builders Association.

Read more from KFOR

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Posted on November 5, 2019 by Jorie Helms

Construction is booming in Oklahoma, creating demand for well educated workers in the field.

-OETA, The Oklahoma News Report

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Posted on September 9, 2019 by Mike Means

Congratulations to Jorie Helms, Director of Communications and Outreach, for being selected as a 2019 NextGen Under 30 winner! Now in its ninth year and expanding its scope and state-wide reach, NextGen Under 30 recognizes and encourages the next generation of innovative, creative, and inspiring individuals who push the boundaries in various categories of endeavor. In addition, award winners are selected based upon their participation in and contribution to their communities. Jorie was selected from over 1,000 nominees by a panel of respected business and civic leaders who served as judges.

Jorie started at the Oklahoma Home Builders Association in 2017 where she focuses on Outreach projects, Member engagement, Social Media marketing, and much more. Jorie is also a proud member of The Association for Women in Communications.

To read more about the NextGen honorees, go to http://nextgenunder30.com/award-winners/.

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Posted on August 15, 2019 by Jorie Helms

A recent study by NAHB reveals that millennials have a much stronger desire for certain bathroom features relative to older generations.

The report compiled survey data between 2007 and 2018 and found that the share of home buyers who want whirlpool tubs declines as the older generations age, but stays relatively constant for millennials. As of 2018, 70% of millennials expressed a strong preference for whirlpool tubs, compared to 62% for Generation X, 47% for baby boomers and 44% for seniors. See Figure 11.1 below.

Meanwhile, the share who want a dressing area increases for millennials while falling or staying constant for other generations (Figure 11.2).

Those who prefer his and her baths increases dramatically over the years for millennials and shows no real trend among the other generations (Figure 11.3).

Figures 12.1 through 12.4 below center on kitchen features. All four generations show an elevated preference for built-in kitchen seating. Of note is the increasing upward trend for millennials who desire trash compactors and built-in kitchen seating.

Finally, for the specialty rooms in Figures 13.1 through 13.3, millennials show a higher preference for exercise rooms, game rooms and media rooms than the other generations. Moreover, the gap between millennials and the older generations is quite substantial in 2018.

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Posted on August 15, 2019 by Jorie Helms

At least four out of five millennial buyers prefer laundry rooms, hardwood front exteriors, patios and garage storage. Conversely, they give a thumbs down to elevators, wine cellars and laminate countertops.

These were among the findings from a new study by the NAHB Economics team that focused on millennial home buying preferences.

The 2018 survey asked recent and prospective buyers to rate 175 different features on the following four-tier scale:

  • Essential: Unlikely to buy a home without feature
  • Desirable: Seriously influenced to buy home if included
  • Indifferent: Would not influence purchase decision
  • Do Not Want: Not likely to buy a home with feature

No. 1 is a laundry room, which 86% of millennials want. Other features on the top 10 list include a walk-in pantry, exterior lighting, a front porch and table space for eating.

Millennial preferences differed somewhat from baby boomers and seniors. Unlike millennials, boomers did not include a walk-in pantry, front porch, table space for eating and double sink in their list of top 10 amenities. Likewise, seniors omitted a hardwood front exterior, walk-in pantry, front porch and table space for eating from their 10 most wanted features.

Nearly half of millennials (47%) cited elevators as the feature that they are least likely to want, followed by cork flooring in the main living spaces (33%) and wine cellars (32%).

Millennials have also been shifting their preference of master and standard bedrooms over the years. In 2007, 80% preferred one full master bedroom suite plus three standard bedrooms and 20% desired two full master bedroom suites plus one standard bedroom.

By 2018, this 80-20 ratio dropped to 60% and 40%, respectively.

View the full study.

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Posted on July 31, 2019 by Jorie Helms

 

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 31, 2019) — Oklahoma City-based Dolese Bros. Co. was recently recognized by the National Safety Council with an Exemplary distinction award for its efforts to reduce the number of accidents occurring on Oklahoma roads. Dolese was one of two Oklahoma employers to receive the inaugural Our Driving Concern Oklahoma Employer Traffic Safety Awards for the Exemplary distinction.

“We are honored to be recognized as a leader in safety,” Dolese President and CEO Mark Helm said. “This achievement is the direct result of each and every employee’s commitment and focus on making safety a personal value.”

The awards were presented in partnership with the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and the Oklahoma Safety Council at the Oklahoma Safety and Health Conference in Oklahoma City. The seven recipients emerged from a diverse pool of applicants and were evaluated by employee education, training and other traffic safety initiatives. The categories were Exemplary, Award and Honorable Mention.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, nearly 200 crashes occur every day and more than 650 people are killed on Oklahoma roads each year.

In 2014, Dolese implemented in-cab video cameras and sensor system to their fleet which has reduced accidents company-wide, and more importantly in the communities where Dolese operates. The cameras activate when a driver brakes too quickly, turns too sharply, swerves or accelerates too fast. This tool is used as a coaching tool to improve driver safety, not to punish drivers. Employees receive recognition and awards for reaching safe driving goals.

This effort has shown great results. In 2018, the number of coachable events for the company were at an all-time low.

“Our drivers take pride in their work and are keeping safety top of mind,” Dolese Occupational Health and Safety Director David Finley said. “Their proactive safety behavior is resulting in less incidents and fewer days of work missed due to injuries.”

Additionally, Dolese actively works to implement trainings and other programs to enhance their drive toward safety.

“This recognition is a morale boost for our employees who are making a conscious effort to keep themselves, their peers, our customers and the traveling public safe,” Helm said. “This distinction acknowledges that we are making progress toward achieving our goals and offers us a challenge to continue improving.”

Suzanne Singleterry, media@dolese.com

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Posted on July 3, 2019 by Jorie Helms

More baby boomers continue to work past the age of 65, but many are still looking toward retirement, including downsizing their current home and finding a location that fits their lifestyle. Because they may still be working full or part time, however, they may not have the flexibility — or desire — to move to more destination-oriented locations.

To meet this growing demand, builders are looking toward less traditional locations to create housing for 55+ home buyers. Major developers have started to construct in areas around Boston, Minneapolis and Newark, N.J., for example, to match the needs of this working demographic — a trend likely to continue as the oldest members of Generation X are now starting to reach the age of 55.

“This is a real opportunity for builders to capitalize on the boomer population — a large, affluent demographic with equity to trade into a new home,” observed Deborah Blake, principal at The Ipsum Group. “Builders are able to start with smaller communities — around 300 to 500 units or less — in locations that you wouldn’t necessarily think of for communities in the past.”

One of the biggest hurdles builders may face in local communities is that boomers oftentimes choose to stay in their current homes because they don’t know what other options are available to them. To make the move, buyers need to see the value of a new home or community, and how it’s better suited to their lifestyle. Features such as single-level living, universal design concepts, and a more attractive social network through amenities and other activities can be a major draw.

“I always say it’s ‘plussing your lifestyle without leaving your neighborhood,’” Blake noted. “They get to enjoy their career, with a full-time income, and live in a home that fits their lifestyle — it’s the best of both worlds.”

Builders are also experiencing strong competition in the resale market in popular destinations such as Arizona and Florida, she added. Buyers are able to purchase less-expensive homes in 25- to 30-year-old communities that have been well-maintained and boast vibrant groups of residents.

Before looking into local opportunities, however, it’s critical to understand this niche audience. “Success requires the right pricing and creating the right things to compel a 55+ buyer to say, ‘My current home doesn’t fit my needs or lifestyle,’” Blake stated.

Learn more about the features boomer buyers want, as well as tips on how to market to this demographic, through resources from NAHB’s 55+ Housing Industry Council.

With three decades of real-life experience — 22 years with Del Webb and the last seven-plus years advising clients across the United States at The Ipsum Group — Deborah Blake is uniquely qualified to provide pragmatic advice in the areas of consumer research, community feasibility, visioning, amenity and lifestyle programming, branding, marketing, sales, residential product, and operations of 55+ targeted and age-qualified communities.

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Posted on July 1, 2019 by Jorie Helms

Netiquette — etiquette for the digital world — is where common courtesy meets the Internet. Netiquette is necessary since business communications have evolved and become Internet-based. Telephone and snail mail are no longer the primary forms of business communication; texting, instant messaging and social media have taken precedence.

People often wonder how the various generations like to communicate. Knowing each generation’s preferences can make a world of difference in business.

Gen Z

  • Direct, visual and succinct
  • Communicate with images and multitask across several screens
  • Short attention spans, communicate in bite-sized snacks with punchy headlines, emoticons, photos and images

Millennials

  • Hate talking on the phone
  • Prefer texting or messaging apps
  • Like thought-out responses afforded by texts, unlike personal conversations or phone calls
  • Will use email, although it is seen as less urgent than a text

Gen X

  • Adapt quickly to new technology
  • Grew up with the emergence of the PC, lived through the dot-com bust and the introduction of the cell phone
  • Can be reached with a variety of technologies
  • The most technologically versatile

Boomers

  • Prefer face-to-face meetings
  • Talk on the phone
  • Use email, video conference, text, etc.; varies by individual, so their tech knowledge shouldn’t be underestimated
  • Stay accessible and visible

Above all, ask how someone wants to communicate. Once you know that, follow the eight rules of business communication:

  1. Know what you are going to say before you say it
  2. Less is more; keep it simple
  3. Use bullet points
  4. What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)
  5. Don’t get bogged down (tangents, lose focus)
  6. Call to action (again, what’s in it for me?)
  7. Edit, spell check and review once more
  8. Follow up

For more information on Netiquette, read the full article, “Manners for Digital Communication,” in the current issue of Building Women magazine authored by Carol Morgan, MIRM, CAPS, CSP. NAHB Professional Women in Building Council (PWB) is offering a free webcast to PWB Council members on Netiquette featuring Morgan today, June 27, at 2 p.m. ET. For more information about the webcast or PWB, contact Sheronda Carr.

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Posted on June 25, 2019 by Jorie Helms

Marketing strategist and BUILDER blogger Donna Campanelli says there are many ways to improve lead generation.

By 

Adobe Stock

In my work as a marketing strategist for contractors and the trades, I have met with countless business owners struggling to grow sales. Some were larger companies with elaborate websites, and some had simple websites. But regardless of size, they all faced the same problem: Their websites were not generating leads.

In talking to those business owners about their websites, they often had a misunderstanding of what a website entails. Many see websites as a commodity that they must have. They look to buy a website based on price rather than as an investment that will generate year-after-year returns. By basing a decision on price, the website's design will go to the lowest bidder instead of a company that has experience in creating a lead generating system that takes businesses the distance.

Having analyzed hundreds of websites, I’ve seen the same mistakes over and over again. Here are five possible reasons your website is not generating leads.

1. Lack of Visibility
Perhaps the most common reason websites don’t generate leads is a lack of visibility, or lack of traffic. If your website doesn’t rank on page one of the search engines, Google and Bing for example, and you are not doing any kind of advertising to drive potential customers to your website, then your company is invisible. The only way people will find you or your website is if they know your company name or you hand them a business card.

To generate leads from your website, you need to be visible and you need traffic. Just like sales is a numbers game, so is online lead generation. When I trained real estate agents we used to say, it takes 100 suspects, to get 10 prospects to generate one sale. In online marketing, it is the same. A great conversion rate on the web is 5% or higher. The average conversion rate is 1 to 2%. So, if you want to make five sales per month, you need to get at least 500 people to your website each month.

The quickest way to generate traffic to your website is to use pay-per-click marketing. With pay-per-click marketing, ads for your company appear at the top of the search engines when customers enter keywords related to your business. When they click on your ad, you are charged a fee for the click.

Depending on the keyword, the cost per click will vary. For instance, today the cost per click for “home builders in Colorado Springs” is $5.23. The cost for “affordable home builders in Colorado

Springs” is $3.25. The cost per click is dependent upon how many companies are competing for that keyword.

It is important to have a good mix of keywords. It is equally as important to work with someone who really understands the workings of pay-per-click marketing to manage your ad spend and work on adjusting your ads to increase your ROI.

There is a downside to pay-per-click advertising, though, and that is if you stop advertising, you stop getting traffic. The long-term strategy to drive traffic to your website is to hire a company to optimize your website for the search engines. This process, called search engine optimization, is not marketing. It does not generate leads by itself. But, when your website moves to page one, and ideally within one of the top three organic spots for terms people are using to find companies like yours, you will get traffic to your site without having to pay a monthly pay-per-click ad spend.

If you are getting traffic to your website but visitors are not contacting you, then the question is, what are they doing on your website? Google Analytics combined with Google Search Console is a must-have tool to determine what is and isn’t working with your website. Using these tools, you can know how many visitors are coming to your website, how they got to the website, how long they stay on your site, and where they enter and exit your site.

2. Unprofessional or Lacking Portfolio Photos
Your website in many cases is the first impression a customer gets of your business. Yet many companies skimp on photography. I analyzed a website for a tile contractor that came to me recently. Her website was ranking on page one for 24 keywords, but she said her website wasn’t generating any leads.

The first thing I did was look at Google Analytics to see her website’s traffic numbers. She was getting plenty of people to her website, but no one was contacting her. So, I dug deeper and looked to see where people were exiting her website.

What I found was that 25% of the people who visited her website left the site after viewing the project portfolio page. When I viewed the page, I understood why. There were two pictures that were taken by her with her cell phone, but they weren’t staged in any way. While the tile work in the photo was very nice, you had to look over tools and pans sitting on the kitchen counter to see the work.

Your website must showcase your best work. Hire a skilled photographer. You don’t necessarily need a professional photographer, but one that knows about lighting and that will stage the photo for you.

If you are doing renovation work, have before and after photos taken from the same vantage point so the visitor can easily see the differences. A little planning before taking photos will go a long way in making you look great.

3. Missing Call-to-Action
In sales we say "ABC," always be closing. The equivalent to that in websites is always have a call-to-action. I have seen many websites missing the call-to-action. Essentially, the website gives a lot of information on the company’s product or service and then says, “for more information contact us.”

That’s great, but website visitors need direction. Your website needs to very specifically tell them how to reach you and it needs to be easy.

A call-to-action on your website needs to be in two forms. The first is your call-to-action within the text of your site. It should say, for example, “To learn more about our custom home building offerings, fill out our convenient contact form or for immediate assistance call us today at 719-555-1212.

In this call-to-action, the phone number should be setup as click-to-call so smart phone users can click on the phone number to dial. The whole call-to-action should be in a different font and set apart from the rest of the content on the site so it is easily recognizable.

The second is a form on your website. We recently worked with a client whose site only had the call-to-action in the text of the site. Once we added a “Request a Quote” form in the right column of all the services pages, he started getting leads.

4. Misaligned Content
When visitors come to your website, they are typically looking to answer a question. Many people start researching new homes or home renovation projects months before they are actually ready to buy. So, in preparation they head to the web to see what it will cost, get ideas of what they might buy, and even compare offerings. What I see time and time again is that websites are not designed to answer the questions customers are looking to answer. Instead, they give the information owners and salespeople want them to know.

Take for instance a custom home builder we worked with recently. His website had a lot of information and gorgeous examples of his work, but visitors were not requesting to meet with him. After working with him at a local home show we noticed that people in the booth first looked at the photos of his work and then they asked for floor plans. He didn’t have floor plans on his website because he said he can build whatever the customer wanted. But customers want a place to start. They want something to build on. So, we added a few of a variety of floor plans that he has built to his website.

Understanding how your customers think and what questions they always ask is important when building or redesigning your website.

5. Lack of Attention 
The biggest reason business websites don’t generate leads is because business owners don’t understand what is required to create a lead generating machine and they don’t give their website the attention that it needs.

Just like building a home, building a website is part art, part science. Building a website that generates a steady stream of leads takes time, testing, and analysis.

I always tell my customers, you wouldn’t put an ad in the newspaper for 52 weeks and leave it there if it wasn’t generating business, and so you shouldn’t let your website sit if it is not generating business.

Your website can be a powerful player in the success of your company, but as a business owner you need to understand that this is not the Field of Dreams. They will not come just because you build it. A website can be your best salesperson, but it needs to be nurtured and tended to.

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Posted on June 25, 2019 by Jorie Helms

Construction for an Aging Population: The Influence of Shifting Demographics

Senior citizens are a fast-growing segment of the population. It is estimated that the number of people age 65 and older will nearly double before 2050. While many senior citizens eventually go on to live in an assisted living facility or nursing home, a growing portion of the senior population is focused on age-in-place strategies to stay in their own homes and remain independent for as long as possible.

Aging in place is possible under the right circumstances. Seniors need special accommodations that younger homeowners and home buyers rarely consider. This may affect many of the homes being built and remodeled today and into the future. Contractors who build or remodel homes can better serve this growing niche by remaining up to date with the latest changes and trends. If you're a contractor with a burgeoning business, here's what you need to know about constructing homes for an aging population.

Single Floor Living or Lift Installation Capabilities

In their golden years, many seniors lose the ability to walk safely up and down stairs. Some seniors will manage this problem by installing a stair lift or elevator. Others may simply seek out homes where they can live all on one floor. Single floor living can be accomplished in many ways. In some cases, homeowners install a master suite on the first floor, where they can sleep and go to the bathroom all without going upstairs. Sometimes this requires the homeowner to make an addition to the home. In other cases, homeowners move to homes without a second floor.

Ranch style homes are very practical for homeowners who are unable to go up and down stairs regularly. In some ranch style homes, facilities (like laundry) are placed in the basement. Builders in an area with high housing demand from seniors may opt to move these facilities to the ground floor. Those constructing homes with multiple floors might consider leaving enough room for a lift or elevator to be installed.

Safe Bathrooms

There are many ways that contractors can build senior-safe bathrooms. Existing bathrooms can also be modified to become senior-safe. Common age in place features found in bathrooms include:

  • Walk-in showers. These showers reduce the risk of a homeowner falling when stepping into and out of the shower.
  • Non-slip floors. Slips are a common problem in bathrooms, but non-slip floors can help prevent falls even when the floor is wet.
  • Grab bars. Grab bars give homeowners something to hold onto in the shower and when standing up or sitting down from the toilet.
  • Proper lighting. The bathroom is a place where lighting can be poor in areas over the shower; improving lighting can help prevent accidents.

In cases when the homeowner contacts a contractor to ask for an age in place remodel, contractors can help the homeowner identify areas where their existing bathroom can be improved.

Wheelchair/Mobility Accommodations

Many seniors eventually find themselves in a wheelchair or in need of some sort of mobility device. When this happens, navigating a standard home can be a challenge. Narrow doorways and hallways make it difficult or impossible to maneuver around the house independently. Those who wish to stay in their current home may need a contractor with the ability to widen hallways or doorways. Ramp installation/construction is also important for homeowners in wheelchairs.​ Those who choose to downsize/move will need to find or build a home with these accomodations. For this kind of project, it's important to become familiar with the local building codes. Contractors who are familiar with local regulations can help ensure the changes they make are safe.

Optimized Lighting

Good lighting is an important and desirable feature in any home, but it's even more important in a senior's home. Varied lighting and adequate controls can help seniors avoid accidents. When installing lighting, contractors must ensure that switches are available in all room entry ways, and must also ensure that lighting can reach all dark corners. Hallways in particular can be dim, so installing hallway lighting can prevent accidents.

Helping Seniors Achieve Their Goals

Builders and contractors can help home buyers and homeowners achieve a wide variety of goals and this - broadly speaking - is no different. Like many jobs they are faced with, building a home that is suitable for aging-in-place is not always a straightforward task and, as a result, creative problem-solvers will always be in demand. Looking forward to the future, learning how to address aging-in-place concerns in a home can make an individual or company an invaluable resource to a growing population of seniors wishing to maintain their independence.

John Quinn is the broker and owner of The John Quinn Team of RE/MAX Experts. With over 30 years of real estate experience and a commitment to personalized customer service, John helps buyers and sellers in the memphis area.

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Posted on June 19, 2019 by Jorie Helms

Recently, many of us from the Oklahoma HBA went to Washington, DC, for the NAHB Spring Leadership meeting.  We had members from COHBA, HBA of Greater Tulsa, and Stillwater HBA.  One of our members, Mike Fournier, went to Arlington to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  If you haven’t witnessed it, it is a moving ceremony.  Guarded 24/7, no matter the weather, the guards keep watch over the tomb.  It is a fitting tribute to those who are unnamed, but yet gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

That background came to my mind as I witnessed another “changing of the guard” at the Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission.  One of our members, Curtis McCarty from the Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma (BASCO), completed his final term on the OUBCC.  Curtis completed his final term on the Commission and was ineligible to serve again at this time.  Commission members are term limited and can only serve two consecutive terms.

The Oklahoma HBA would like to commend Curtis for his service to the state.  While it wasn’t protecting our shores from foreign enemies, the important role he played in keeping a check on arbitrary and capricious codes protects our industry.  The work of the OUBCC is critical to each and every one of us as build homes for our neighbors.

The OUBCC began its work in 2010.  Curtis was the first homebuilder to serve.  Yesterday, his term ended and Lonnie Shackelford, a builder from the HBA of Greater Tulsa, will be the next homebuilder to serve.  We will assist Lonnie in any way we can to insure that our industry’s voice is heard.  We wish him the best as he begins his service to the State of Oklahoma and the construction industry.

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Posted on May 17, 2019 by Jorie Helms

Finding an affordable home to buy should be easier than discovering buried treasure. But for many homebuyers – especially first-timers – it’s doesn’t feel that way.

The lack of affordable homes has been a persistent problem in the housing market. In the first quarter, inventory rose 2.4% from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. But it’s still well below normal, and that’s vexing homebuyers.

To unearth low-cost homes, USA TODAY tapped Trulia to look at the largest 50 U.S. metro areas and identify ZIP codes where homes are affordable relative to the median metro income.

Here's the hopeful news for buyers.

Where the least expensive housing exists in every state

In 43 metro areas, at least half the homes in the majority of ZIP codes were considered affordable. There were 604 ZIP codes – or 6.8% of all ZIP codes – where all of the homes were affordable. There were just 288 ZIP codes, or 3.3%, where none of the homes were considered affordable.

“It’s interesting that so many ZIP codes fall into one of those extreme buckets,” said Cheryl Young, senior economist at Trulia.

What makes a ZIP code affordable?

Neither housing stock age nor distance from the city center seemed to be strong drivers of affordability, Young said.

“That’s likely because there may be a premium to live near the center of a metro as well as a premium to live in tony suburbs,” Young said, “and (while) older housing stock may reduce home values, there are also high-value neighborhoods with well-maintained older estates and homes.”

Trulia didn’t dig into other factors that could determine the desirability of a ZIP code and, therefore, the value of the housing inventory, such as performance of nearby schools, proximity to shopping and restaurants, and access to major commuter roads.

What is affordable?

Trulia took the current value of all homes in the largest 50 metro areas and calculated how much the median income could afford by ZIP code. Homes were considered affordable if 30% or less of the metro area’s median monthly income went to the mortgage payment.

To find the share of affordable homes on the market, Trulia calculated the maximum amount that the median income could allocate toward a mortgage payment. Calculations considered a 20% down payment, and the monthly mortgage payment also included property insurance and taxes.

It’s important to note that many homebuyers, notably first-time buyers, contribute less than 20% toward their home purchase. That would increase their monthly mortgage payment on the same home bought with 20% down. Additionally, those buyers would have to pay private mortgage insurance, another monthly cost. The number of ZIP codes with affordable homes would also shrink for those buyers, Young said.

Most and least affordable ZIP codes

USA TODAY ranked a metro area's affordability by the percentage of ZIP codes where at least half of the homes are affordable for that area's median income. Using Trulia's data, USA TODAY also looked at how many ZIP codes were 100% affordable and how many had no affordable homes for the median income.

Oklahoma City

Share of ZIP codes where at least half the homes are affordable: 95.4%

Share of ZIP codes where none of the homes are affordable: 0%

Share of ZIP codes where all the homes are affordable: 6.5%

Indianapolis

Share of ZIP codes where at least half the homes are affordable: 96.7%

Share of ZIP codes where none of the homes are affordable: 0.8%

Share of ZIP codes where all the homes are affordable: 13.8%

Pittsburgh

Share of ZIP codes where at least half the homes are affordable: 95.8%

Share of ZIP codes where none of the homes are affordable: 0.5%

Share of ZIP codes where all the homes are affordable: 22.4%

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Posted on May 6, 2019 by Jorie Helms

The Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma has named Stephen Koranda executive officer.

Through his firm, Back To You Marketing, Koranda will manage BASCO, which, since 1949, has been serving and connecting those in the home building industry through education, information, advocacy, and networking events.

Koranda has more than 20 years of experience working with customer service and association clients including local and statewide associations. He has previously managed nonprofits and has served on numerous boards within Norman and Oklahoma. He is presently principal and senior consultant of Back To You Marketing, a full-service marketing association management firm based in Norman.

“Stephen brings his extensive network and experience in management, collaboration and strategic direction to his role as the executive officer,” Danny Gamble, BASCO Board Chair, said in a statement. “We are excited to see where he will lead the association.”

For more information, please call Stephen Koranda, at 405-637-6225, or email SK@BackToYouMarketing.com

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Posted on April 23, 2019 by Jorie Helms

FONTANA, Calif. — At a steel factory dwarfed by the adjacent Auto Club Speedway, Fernando Esparza is working toward his next promotion.

Esparza is a 46-year-old mechanic for Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks that makes juices and smoothies. He’s taking a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages.

It’s a pretty safe bet. The skills being taught here are in high demand. That’s in part because so much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades that many fields like his face worker shortages.

Now California is spending $6 million on a campaign to revive the reputation of vocational education, and $200 million to improve the delivery of it.

“It’s a cultural rebuild,” said Randy Emery, a welding instructor at the College of the Sequoias in California’s Central Valley.

Standing in a cavernous teaching lab full of industrial equipment on the college’s Tulare campus, Emery said the decades-long national push for high school graduates to get bachelor’s degrees left vocational programs with an image problem, and the nation’s factories with far fewer skilled workers than needed.

“I’m a survivor of that teardown mode of the ’70s and ’80s, that college-for-all thing,” he said.

This has had the unintended consequence of helping flatten out or steadily erode the share of students taking vocational courses. In California’s community colleges, for instance, it’s dropped to 28 percent from 31 percent since 2000, contributing to a shortage of trained workers with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.

Research by the state’s 114-campus community college system showed that families and employers alike didn’t know of the existence or value of vocational programs and the certifications they confer, many of which can add tens of thousands of dollars per year to a graduate’s income.

“We needed to do a better job getting the word out,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, the system’s vice chancellor for workforce and economic development.

High schools and colleges have struggled for decades to attract students to job-oriented classes ranging from welding to nursing. They’ve tried cosmetic changes, such as rebranding “vocational” courses as “career and technical education,” but students and their families have yet to buy in, said Andrew Hanson, a senior research analyst with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Federal figures show that only 8 percent of undergraduates are enrolled in certificate programs, which tend to be vocationally oriented.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., last year focused attention on the vocational vs. academic debate by contending during his presidential campaign that “welders make more money than philosophers.”

The United States has 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 per year and don’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to the Georgetown center. People with career and technical educations are actually slightly more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and significantly more likely to be working in their fields of study.

At California Steel Industries, where Esparza was learning industrial computing, some supervisors without college degrees make as much as $120,000 per year and electricians also can make six figures, company officials said.

Skilled trades show among the highest potential among job categories, the economic-modeling company Emsi calculates. It says tradespeople also are older than workers in other fields — more than half were over 45 in 2012, the last period for which the subject was studied — meaning looming retirements could result in big shortages.

High schools and community colleges are the keys to filling industrial jobs, Hanson said, but something needs to change.

“You haven’t yet been able to attract students from middle-class and more affluent communities” to vocational programs, he said. “Efforts like California’s to broaden the appeal are exactly what we need.”

Aside from marketing the programs differently and making them simpler to find and apply for, California is trying to ease the process through which individual campuses can add new programs that could help local businesses. If a region needs respiratory therapists, for example, community colleges will be able to avoid some of the red tape that previously hampered their flexibility to train new therapists.

“We definitely wanted to get out of the colleges’ way,” Ton-Quinlivan said.

The industrial course in which Esparza is enrolled is run by nearby Chaffey College through the community college’s InTech Center, a partnership with California Steel and other local manufacturers. At its completion, Esparza will have new skills he hopes will translate into a promotion and a raise of $4 or $5 per hour.

Like his classmates, Esparza, who starts work at 6 a.m., is looking at the class as a moneymaker for him.

“It feels very comfortable for me,” he said. And then, like many Californians, he reflects on his commute. “I don’t even have to catch a freeway to get here. How can it get better?”

But it can get better in California, where 30 percent of all job openings by 2025 — more than a million jobs — will require some post-high school education, according to the state’s community college system. Some on the industry side of the equation say that while colleges should have spent the past few decades building tighter bonds with local companies, those companies share the blame for vocational education’s tattered reputation.

Residents who have watched manufacturing companies relocate overseas may have not wanted to encourage their children to learn manufacturing-related skills, said Sam Geil, a Fresno, California, business consultant and adviser to the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance.

“It doesn’t help when industry is moving out and laying people off,” Geil said. “It’s the relationship that industry has with the community. Industry could do a better job communicating.”

As with a lot of education challenges, money is also a big problem.

While a humanities class such as English costs a college just $52 per student credit, a respiratory therapy class costs $265, according to a 2013 report by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy. Equipment and trained instructors in some specialty fields can be prohibitively expensive for a college.

With state budgets in constant flux, colleges and experts say it’s essential that companies help pay for educational programs that directly benefit them. While that kind of cooperation has been rare, Chaffey College’s InTech Center is an example of how it could work.

California Steel chipped in $2 million for the education center, which it leases to Chaffey for $5 per year, said Sandra Sisco, the school’s director of economic development. Other local companies and colleges have invested, too. The center served about 1,300 students in the past year and plans to grow, she said.

The steel company agreed to work with Chaffey mostly because it was having trouble finding enough trained workers, said Rod Hoover, its human resources manager. And if California Steel’s competitors benefit from the classes on the factory campus, many of which provide skills useful in steelmaking, so be it.

“It was the right thing to do for our community,” Hoover said. “The selfish reason was because we needed craft workers and it was inconvenient to send them elsewhere.”

The InTech Center specializes in quick courses that help students like Esparza get ahead in their jobs, Sisco said.

“The reputation of the colleges being archaic and slow is still out there,” she said. As with many perceptions of vocational education, Sisco said, “That’s not necessarily true.”

Although a large percentage of InTech students are older than traditional-aged college students, Chaffey is trying to encourage younger ones to focus early on their career training.

The strategy worked with 17-year-old Derrick Roberson, who graduated in the spring from Montclair High School and is taking an industrial maintenance electrical and instrumentation InTech course as he trains to be an electrician.

Vocational courses in high school were seen as second-class, Roberson said.

“All throughout high school, they made it sound like going to college was our only option,” he said. “After you go to college, where do you go? It can open doors for you, but not as much as they make it seem.”

Career education boosters also say job-focused courses — and accompanying apprenticeships — can provide students with essential “soft skills” such as communication and conflict resolution that foster teamwork and reduce stress. And schools should consider blending traditional college courses with vocational ones, said Sean Gallagher, who recently founded Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy.

“It’s often either vocational training or liberal arts,” Gallagher said. “But if you look at what employers want, it’s both, and I think that’s often lost in the dialogue today.”

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up here for our higher-education newsletter.

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Posted on April 19, 2019 by Jorie Helms

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Posted on March 5, 2019 by Jorie Helms

OKC-area home sales increase in 2018 By: Molly M. Fleming The Journal Record " March 4, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY – Homes priced at less than $200,000 were in high demand in 2018, and that demand isn’t expected to slow this year.

Closed single-family home sales were up 4.1 percent compared to 2017, according to MLSOK’s year- end report, which was released Feb. 26. The median sales price increased almost 3 percent to $167,500.

MLSOK’s figures include statistics

from Edmond, Altus, El Reno, Midwest City, Moore, Yukon, Piedmont, Elk City, Oklahoma City, Weatherford, Norman, Del City, Shawnee, Mustang

and Nichols Hills.

Keller Williams Elite Broker Jennifer Arsenault said within a 40-mile radius, the metro has about two months of inventory, though there’s even more houses available in the higher price ranges.

“In the housing market, you want to see five to six months of inventory,” she said. “It’s a seller’s market when you have less than five months.”

The area that saw the biggest increase in new listings and pending sales was the 73064 ZIP code, which includes Mustang’s city limits and some of the school district. In that ZIP code, there was a 27.7 percent increase in pending home sales and a 20.6 percent increase in new listings.

Monty Strickland, managing broker of Realty Experts in Moore, said that while he works in the Moore area, he’s also seen a lot of deals in Newcastle and Blanchard.

He said he thinks there’s opportunity now for people in a lower-priced home to move into a higher-end home, which would free up the lower-priced home. Arsenault made a similar observation about the market.

“People that are holding onto their properties – now is a great time to move up,” he said. “They should definitely take advantage of that.”

The price range with the shortest market time was $150,000 and less, while the highest market time is for homes priced $450,001 and higher.

Arsenault said the higher-end price range isn’t stagnant, but moving slowly. Her firm has completed several deals in the luxury market, she said.

“We see a lot of cash deals with property going under contract,” she said. “It’s ones that are in great locations and look good. The money’s out there.”

Overall, she said 2018 stood out to her because typically in an election year, the sales slow down in September into the election, then pick back up in November and December.

That didn’t happen this year, she said. There’s a strong need for homes under $200,000, especially with such a competitive investor market.

Oklahoma State Home Builders Association Executive Vice President Mike Means said he thinks there will be about a 5 percent increase in newly built homes. Even as lumber prices have come down for the ninth month in a row, there’s a need for land.

“One of the biggest issues we have right now is there aren’t available lots,” Means said. “We have developers that are trying to get more land and get them ready to build.”

But it’s hard to find land in a good school district, Means said. There’s also a need for higher-paying jobs.

“Even the economists in Oklahoma will tell you that we’re creating a lot of jobs, but they’re not high-paying jobs,” Means said.

The OSHBA is doing what it can to reduce the costs of new homes. It has requested a bill to stop cities from regulating the aesthetical design standard. He said when a city requires brick when siding could suffice, that makes the home more expensive.

In Oklahoma, a $1,000 increase in a home’s price can keep 1,993 households from being able to afford it. In Oklahoma City, the $1,000 price uptick equates to 504 families getting priced out, according to study by the National Association of Home Builders.

Strickland said he’s optimistic about 2019. He said a lot of people were waiting out 2018 to see what would happen with interest rates, and he thinks they’ll finally make a literal move in 2019. He expects as the baby boomers continue to downsize, their homes will offer great opportunities for buyers.

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Posted on February 8, 2019 by Jorie Helms

 

February is Heart for the Hungry month at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and Dolese Bros. Co. announced the continuation of its partnership with the Food Bank. Dolese will match all donations made to the Food Bank through the nonprofit’s Volunteer Center up to $20,000. Once met, this match will provide the equivalent of 160,000 meals for chronically hungry children, hardworking families, veterans and seniors with inconsistent access to food.

“Dolese and its employees believe in the importance of playing an active role in the communities where we work, live and play,” Dolese Communications and Community Relations Director Kermit Frank said. “Last year, we were excited to support this landmark opportunity to help address Oklahoma’s fight against hunger in our communities. Dolese saw a natural fit with the mission of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and we look forward to continuing this opportunity to multiply our efforts. We challenge others to join us in the fight to end hunger in Oklahoma.”

Oklahoma is one of the hungriest states in the nation. In fact, one in six Oklahomans struggles with hunger. Thanks to volunteers and donors, the Food Bank furnishes enough food to provide the equivalent of 450,000 meals every week to Oklahomans who are hungry.

The Food Bank relies on the business community in order to achieve its goal of making sure food support is available 365 days a year for unforeseen situations, like the recent federal shutdown. In the last fiscal year businesses donated on average $79,000 a month, which can provide the equivalent of 316,000 meals.

“When unusual circumstances manifest for ordinary people, like the recent federal government shutdown, it truly emphasizes the importance of corporate partnerships,” Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma Executive Director Eileen Bradshaw said. “Each and every dollar donated through the Dolese Delivers Match, enables the Food Bank to provide eight meals in creative and flexible ways for people who suddenly find themselves in need of food assistance. I want to thank Dolese and our generous volunteers for supplying a strong foundation in the fight against hunger.”

Volunteers at the Food Bank can make donations in the Volunteer Center with either credit cards or cash to the Dolese Delivers Match. The Food Bank is located at 1304 N. Kenosha Ave. just north of downtown Tulsa.

Last fiscal year, about 10,000 volunteers donated over 68,000 hours of their time at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Volunteers are needed year-round to help fight hunger. Tasks include bagging and boxing food products, packing Food for Kids bags, working in the Culinary Center, and more. The Food Bank welcomes both individual and group volunteers. Shifts are available Monday through Saturday. To view available opportunities and register to volunteer, visit okfoodbank.org/volunteer.

For more information about the Dolese Delivers Match, contact Regan Leake at rleake@okfoodbank.org or 918-936-4551.

Founded in 1902, Oklahoma-City based construction materials provider Dolese operates more than 60 facilities - including 6 ready-mix concrete plants in the Tulsa vicinity, with over 1,000 employees in two states. They take great pride in supporting and improving communities around them.

Established in 1981, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is a member of the Feeding America network and is the largest private hunger-relief organization in eastern Oklahoma. Last fiscal year, the nonprofit distributed 28.1 million pounds of food and products through a network of more than 720 programs and partner agencies in 24 eastern Oklahoma counties. For more information about the Food Bank visitokfoodbank.org or call 918-585-2800.

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Posted on January 29, 2019 by Jorie Helms

Trades training is an attractive alternative to student loans for frugal Gen Zers, who seek financial success and entrepreneurial opportunities at a young age.

On top of the technology disruption and skilled labor shortages already underway, the construction industry is entering a demographic reshuffle as baby boomers continue to retire and a new crowd of young people makes its way to the industry.

Millennials have been, and continue to be, the target of training and recruitment strategies for many construction firms. While the defined age ranges for this generation vary, Pew Research carves out the years 1981 to 1996, putting millennials at ages 23 to 38 this year — well into adulthood and already on a career track, for the most part. 

To better attract the next up-and-comers, a number of organizations are turning their focus to a newly defined group of young people: Generation Z. They were born between about 1995 and 2010 (ages 9 to 24), and while the research is early-stage, it looks like the financially prudent, entrepreneurial and hands-on aspects of construction will appeal more to these individuals than their millennial predecessors.

The higher ed skeptics

Student loan debt is second only to mortgage debt in the U.S., with students of the Class of 2017 graduating with an average of $39,400 in loans, according to advisory firm Student Loan Hero. But studies suggest that Gen Zers — who may have watched an older sibling struggle to afford rent or a down payment, for example — will be more hesitant to take on this financial burden and aren’t sure if the value is worth the expense.

Growing up post-9/11 and the Great Recession, this generation is in “survival mode,” according to the book “Gen Z @ Work.” While watching their Gen X parents weather the economic downturn, they’ve learned that there are clear winners and losers, and are fighting to make good financial decisions early on. National studies of 4,000 teenagers conducted for the book found that drowning in college debt is the No. 1 concern for 66% of Gen Zers, Fast Company reported, and that 75% believe there are better ways than college to get a good education.

Enter trades programs and apprenticeships.

Build Your Future, an outreach program under the umbrella of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), is appealing to Gen Z’s financial instinct by telling young people about earn-while-you-learn job training and paths to career success — even business ownership — that don’t require a four-year degree.

‘How can I do that myself?’

Rob Kirk, BYF program manager and a former educator, told Construction Dive that Gen Zers “know how to do their research.” He encourages them to look up the demand for career tracks that require four-year degrees compared with demand for skilled tradesmen in their areas, such as through BYF’s interactive map of craft labor demand by state and track. For pragmatic Gen Zers, construction begins to look like the common-sense option, Kirk said.

This is one reason why “the pendulum is swinging back” toward interest in career and tech education (CTE), according to BYF director Jennifer Wilkerson. The middle school and high school students she works with “want to know how it works, what makes it happen and how can I do that myself,” she told Construction Dive.

And school administrators — helped by President Donald Trump’s reauthorization of CTE funding in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 — are increasingly able to create programs that will both allow these hands-on experiences and provide students exposure to careers in construction, Wilkerson said.

BYF steps in to support these educators while developing interactive materials that allow students to independently explore careers in construction. The organization’s most popular initiative is its construction craft “trading cards,” which aren’t too different from baseball or even Pokemon cards, in theory, Wilkerson said.

Each card profiles a craft profession with a worker’s photo on the front, and details like the job description, average salary and required training on the back. Young people can flip through the cards, which are available both online and as hand-outs at career fairs and other events, to identify the roles that their interests are best matched to. For example, the electrician card reads: “If you’re into sound systems, robotics or tinkering with wires, you should think about a career as an electrician.”

Why Gen Z looks to experienced mentors

According to a study from research firm Barna Group, 66% of Gen Zers said they want to start a career before age 30 compared with 51% of millennials. In addition, six of the 10 top reasons that Gen Zers said they admire their role model pertain to career or financial success, the study found.

Young people who are exploring construction careers like to hear about the perks of the job and the options in front of them from experienced professionals, said Stephanie Davis, vice president and chief learning officer at the Greater Michigan Construction Academy (GMCA). For this reason, the Associated Builders and Contractors-affiliated program connects students with local contractors and mentors early on so they can understand what companies look for in an employee, what wages they can expect to earn and how they can grow in their career.

“That’s what they need to hear and it’s something that has really worked for them,” she told Construction Dive. “If you don’t share with them all of those possibilities, they’re really going to lose focus and might find it elsewhere.”

GMCA’s youngest enrollees, fresh out of high school, receive coaching during their first semester to choose a career track, hone their resume and practice for interviews. By the second semester, in some cases, they can be working with an ABC-member contractor that will pay for the remaining tuition and ideally keep the student on as an employee when they’re out the door.

The academy aims to help all of its students graduate debt-free. “We’re working with them daily to help them be successful right from the start,” Davis said.

Another way to satisfy Gen Z’s appetite for career success is to demonstrate how they can start out with tools and one day become construction business owners. “We’re trying to teach them that they can sign the front of the checks” if they start out with the right education and hands-on skills, Davis said. The entrepreneurial interest is there, according to research firm Universum, which surveyed 50,000 Gen Zers across 46 countries, finding that 55% are interested in starting their own company.

“We’re trying to teach them that they can sign the front of the checks ... all they need is that education and that hands-on skill to be able to own their own company.”

Stephanie Davis

Vice president and chief learning officer, GMCA

The industry is largely made up of small companies — more than 60% of construction workers in 2016 worked for companies with less than 50 employees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But students can ride this path to the top of larger companies, as well. For example, at Sundt Construction, which is among the top 100 contractors in the U.S., 40% of management started out with tools in hand, Wilkerson said.

Getting Gen Z in the door, ready to innovate

Members of Gen Z are the true "digital natives." As they’ve grown older, things like smartphones, tablets, social media and even virtual reality (for gaming and other uses) have been the norm. They’re thoroughly comfortable with technology, and if they’ve learned anything from their resourceful Gen X parents, could come up with new ways to use tech to solve common problems faced by the industry.

Some Gen Zers are taking time to teach themselves tools and systems specific to construction, and they’ll be seeking employers who are both using this tech and exploring further ways to innovate with it, said Stacy Scopano, vice president of innovation at Skanska USA, at a conference last fall.

A Gen Z high schooler “can just download a free [CAD] kit, 3D-print it and expect the world to operate differently,” he said. “And we’ve got to fund it.”

But even if the funding is there, companies may have to tweak their marketing to get Gen Z in the door. More than other generations, this group pays close attention to the ways businesses present themselves online and on social media.

“Generation Z seems to really care about engaging with brands that have values that align with their own,” Kyle Andrew, chief marketing brand of American Eagle Outfitters, a retailer that has seen profits rise with Gen Z interest, told Fast Company. “You can’t just make stuff: You have to stand for something.”

Companies that post on their websites and to social media about their philanthropic involvement and commitment to their employees, for example, could do well to draw young people’s attention, according to Brad Benhart, associate professor of practice at Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

“Young people are looking at that and they’re establishing an opinion of the culture of that company just from their social media presence, where older generations would establish their opinion of the culture of a construction company by going into the front door,” Benhart, who works closely with construction management students, told Construction Dive.

“I think that’s something that our industry is going to have to embrace … what kind of message are you sending out to young people?"

Author 

-Kathleen Brown

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Posted on January 14, 2019 by Jorie Helms

Historically, the construction industry has been one of the slowest to adopt new technology, lagging only behind agriculture in digitalization. But that’s changing as software entrepreneurs turn their attention to the needs of the deskless workforce.  

The ubiquity of mobile devices, cheap and powerful cloud computing, 5G, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are all making it possible to put robust technology into the hands of deskless staff, including construction workers. The venture capital industry has taken notice—funding for construction technology has seen a steady uptick since 2013. 

CFOs should partner with their IT teams to modernize their back-office systems, and prepare to handle a flood of data from the field as paper processes become digital. They should also figure out exactly what field data they want, what tools work best to get it, and how to integrate that data into their financial software. Deployed strategically, new tools can help construction finance teams resolve many challenges, including:

Business continuity planning

Family-owned businesses are common in the construction industry, and many thriving mid-market and even large companies are still majority-owned by founding families. Finance leaders need to create business continuity plans, whether that’s figuring out how to transfer company ownership to the next generation, establishing an ESOP (Employee Stock Option Plan), or selling or merging the company. There’s a lot of work involved in valuating the business, figuring out the best planning scenario, and helping negotiate relevant deals. Industry-specific ERPs (such as Viewpoint’s Vista) and cloud procurement platforms (such as Concur) can give finance professionals a better view into their numbers, help with planning scenarios, and standardize the purchasing process across acquired or merged companies. (Full disclosure: both companies are Nvoicepay partners).

Changing accounting standards

Revenue recognition is always top of mind in the industry. For the past several years, the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) has sought to ensure that the new Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) rules around revenue recognition are favorable—or at least not punitive—towards the construction industry. As these new rules are implemented, CFOs seek to refine their strategies for how to bill against contracts, and tie revenue to either a percentage of completion or work-in-progress schedules. Mobile technologies that expedite communication between the office and the field can also help speed the flow of information.  

Risk management

Construction carries more risk, especially out on the job site, than many other industries—and insurance costs are rising. Some companies are investigating captive insurance programs, in which multiple companies pool their assets and fund their own risk by placing money under management so they don’t have to pay such exorbitant premiums. 

Insurance companies have responded with more flexible products to try to help companies control their costs. CFOs need to evaluate their options—and if they want to participate in a captive insurance program, every participant needs to undergo a thorough assessment of their financial stability. 

While a modern ERP system can facilitate most of that process, the assessment would also look at safety and security practices. There’s a lot of technology that can help reduce jobsite risk. Drones can monitor job sites for safety and security. Sensor-equipped wearables can alert workers to smoke or toxic chemical exposure, and geo-fencing can provide alerts when they’re entering a hazard zone. Firms can also use autonomous equipment to do work in environments that are too hazardous for human workers.

In the office, payment automation software such as Nvoicepay can mitigate payment fraud as part of an overall risk-management program.

Attracting and retaining talent

Lots of companies face growth opportunities while lacking enough employees to do the work. With unemployment at new lows, it’s been difficult to hire and keep good employees. 

CFOs are working with HR—and, occasionally, external strategists—to refine their hiring, retention, and benefit strategies. Mobile training technology can help onboard unskilled workers faster, allowing companies to draw from a larger talent pool. Virtual reality technologies also offer promise for quicker training.

Improving job-cost accounting

Tablets and handheld phones let field staff capture data and send it back to their offices electronically. GPS-enabled time cards can record employee work hours and location on a mobile phone. IoT devices can measure equipment run time. 

Cash management strategies

Cash management is probably the biggest challenge at any construction company, and effective work-in-progress (WIP) schedule management is critical. Key to the challenge is coordinating between the subcontractor confirming that a job is complete, project managers verifying that completion, and the accounting department billing the owner and syncing everything with the WIP schedule. This is also an area where drones and mobile apps can increase the speed and accuracy of data delivery to finance.

Finance also needs visibility, flexibility, and precision control over making and timing payments. With cloud-based payment-automation software, a project manager sitting in a truck can review a payment file, prioritize subcontractor payment schedules, and approve payments immediately, without having to return to the office to sign a stack of checks and backup documentation. Subs get paid faster and the job keeps moving.

With all the new purpose-built technology coming down the pipe, we’ll finally start to see some real movement towards digitizing the construction industry. Finance teams should prepare by enabling themselves with modern cloud systems for accounting, spend management, and payments. They need to enable the field with tools that communicate data back to the office in near real-time. Most importantly, they need to work out how to coordinate it all towards productivity gains and growth, and join the ranks of data-driven CFOs who have done the same in other industries.

Jason Krankota is VP of Construction Sales, West Region at Nvoicepay. His expertise in construction business technology spans 20 years, with 10+ years focused on corporate payments, accounts payable, and expense management solutions.

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Posted on January 11, 2019 by Jorie Helms

The housing market is projected to heat up in 2019, and new data from Realtor.com indicates this push will predominantly be driven by Millennial women.

According to the company’s latest study, 50% of the top 20, and seven of the top 10, fastest growing buyer first names belong to Millennial women.

“Although older Baby Boomer and Silent Generation women are leading the charge, the increase in deeds with female names is particularly visible when comparing genders within the Millennial generation,” Realtor.com writes.

The report states that when looking solely at names with a peak birth year between 1981 and 1997, Millennial female names outpace their male counterparts in home sales by 1.5%.

"First names associated with women -- especially Millennial women -- saw a significantly faster level of home sales growth in 2018, giving us a sneak peek of homeownership trends in 2019," Realtor.com Director of Economics Research Javier Vivas said.

Interestingly, Realtor.com’s data also points to another trend – a rise in Hispanic homeownership.

According to the company’s data, home sales associated with traditionally Hispanic names and partially Hispanic names increased by 4.1% and 3.7%, respectively, year-over-year.

That’s a significant increase, considering non-Hispanic names remained virtually stagnant at a rate of 0.1% from the previous year.

"Hispanics and Millennials names overall also saw a surge in home purchases last year,” Vivas said. “If these buyers can continue to break through the affordability barrier, they are likely to make up a larger share of owners than ever before and dominate the market for years to come."

NOTE: Realtor.com’s report analyzed residential non-corporate transactions, ranging from January through September 2018. Notably, the company compared name demographic data from the Social Security Administration and deed record buyer information to gauge young buyer influence in the housing market.

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Posted on January 4, 2019 by Jorie Helms

NAHB Chairman Randy Noel recently shared the following message with members:

As we say goodbye to 2018, let's celebrate NAHB's many achievements in the past year. We can't list them all, but these are some of the most important.
ChartHBA and member efforts to grow NAHB paid off with the addition of 2,000 new members nationwide, the best net improvement in more than a decade. What a great achievement! Thanks to all for the hard work and good will.
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Posted on December 14, 2018 by Jorie Helms

“The select few on the list have demonstrated their ability to wield influence and deliver results on Capitol Hill and in the administration on behalf of clients and groups seeking a voice in Washington,” The Hill said in a Dec. 13 story citing the top lobbyists of 2018.

The prominent Capitol Hill publication listed NAHB CEO Jerry Howard among this elite group of Washington power players.

Although The Hill highlighted one person from each organization it listed, Howard was quick to point out that his inclusion represents the good work of all involved in the federation.

“While I am flattered to receive this recognition, the fact that NAHB is recognized as one of the most powerful trade groups is a testament to the shared efforts of our members; the NAHB staff, most notably Chief Lobbyist Jim Tobin and his government affairs team; EOs; councils and all those who work on behalf of the association to keep housing at the forefront of the national agenda,” Howard said.

NAHB’s government affairs staff works closely with Capitol Hill staffers to set up meetings between NAHB member volunteers, including the Senior Officers, and their elected representatives in Congress. They also help facilitate thousands of visits to congressional offices to advance NAHB’s position on key legislation.

NAHB leverages the association’s power to shine a light on key issues, get pro-housing bills introduced and passed, challenge regulations that do more harm than good, and level the playing field against powerful interests that could put struggling builders, remodelers and their suppliers out of business.

The most recent example of NAHB’s clout occurred earlier this week when Howard, along with a select few members of Congress, was invited to give remarks at EPA headquarters regarding the new waters of the U.S. proposal announced by Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

“By fighting every day for the housing industry on major issues that affect our members’ bottom line, NAHB is working tirelessly to create a better business environment for all those involved in the residential construction industry,” Howard said.

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Posted on December 12, 2018 by Jorie Helms

What You Need to Know Before Signing Up for Medical Coverage

A Publication of Trust Company of Oklahoma

Buckle up! Turning 65 means signing up for Medicare. You are not alone: over 10 thousand Baby Boomers turn 65 each day for the next 20 years, with almost 50 million Americans currently covered by Medicare, according to the Social Security Administration. Even though Medicare touches so many citizens, most are confused about the enrollment process due to a shortage of clear information about this program. As a result, many don’t have the knowledge they need to enroll without incurring penalties or to prepare for the costs Medicare does not cover. To learn more about the ins and outs of Medicare, begin with the road map below.

Read more here! Cracking the Medicare Code

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Posted on December 3, 2018 by Jorie Helms

December is usually the slowest month for the housing market, but this season is not so normal. Some unique dynamics may make this December one of the better times to both buy and sell a home.

First and foremost, mortgage rates are turning what was a red-hot market into a lukewarm market, and that is motivating buyers more than usual. That’s because home prices ran up so far so fast during the recent historic housing shortage, that higher rates are having an outsized impact.

Real estate agent Lynn Fairfield of Re/Max Suburban held an open house Sunday in suburban Chicago, and rates were front and center in the living room conversations.

“I see more people buying right now because they’re afraid rates will be higher in 2019,” said Fairfield.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed spiked this past fall, after flatlining over the summer. Rates are now about a full percentage point higher than they were a year ago, hovering now just below 5 percent. They are expected to move higher in 2019, however.

Combine that with strong home price appreciation over the past two years, and some buyers, especially first-timers, have now hit an affordability wall. That is why sales of both new and existing homes have been weaker for several months, but that also presents an opportunity for buyers. Prices are finally starting to ease — or, at least, the gains are shrinking.

Prices are usually lower in the winter months, in fact 18 percent lower on average than at the peak of the market in June, according to Re/Max. So add higher rates to that, and sellers will have to be more flexible this year. The sky is no longer the limit. Not even close.

“The housing market always lets up a little in the fall, when kids are back in school and the home shopping season wraps up for the holidays,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “But this fall and winter are shaping up to be more favorable for those buyers who have struggled to get into the housing market for several years amid red-hot competition.”

Zillow is seeing a sharp increase in the share of properties with price cuts, even in overheated markets like Seattle, Las Vegas and Boston.

Of course the number of new listings are the lowest in December, as a new home is not traditionally a holiday gift, and anyone with children doesn’t want to move during the school year.

“Though the holiday season is not going to give you plenty of options to choose from, there are reasons why you should NOT put your home search on hold for the holidays,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “Chief among them, December is the best time of year if you want to avoid competitions.”

Views per property are 21 percent lower in December than they are during the rest of the year, according to Realtor.com.

While supply and competition may both be at their low point, motivation is at its high point, for both buyers and sellers.

“That buyer has to move. Either they have a lease expiring Jan. 1, or they have saved enough money for their down payment, so they are motivated to buy,” said Fairfield. “A lot of people are more motivated price-wise from the selling standpoint too, because they too want to get to their next location.”

Homes do stay on the market longer in December, on average five days longer than the rest of the year, so sellers have to be patient. And buyers have to be flexible. If the seller hasn’t already vacated the property, they may not want a lot of buyers traipsing through their holiday decorations or coming around when family and friends are visiting.

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Posted on November 17, 2018 by Jorie Helms

It's here! The new CPB page is up and active. Check it out! CPBOK.org

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Posted on October 22, 2018 by Jorie Helms

Last month, NAHBNow recounted the record share of single-family builders reporting shortages of labor and subcontractors based on a recent survey conducted by the association.

According to the survey respondents, the most widespread effects of the labor shortages were:

  1. Causing builders to pay higher wages and/or subcontractor bids (reported by 84% of builders);
  2. Forcing them to raise home prices (83%); and
  3. Making it difficult to complete projects on time (73%).

As NAHB Senior Economist Paul Emrath reported in this Eye on Housing blog post, these have consistently ranked as the most commonly reported effects of the labor and subcontractor shortages since NAHB began asking builders about them in 2015.

However, all three concerns have become even more acute recently.

The steepest upward trend has been in the share of builders saying the labor/subcontractor shortages are causing higher home prices. This figure jumped by 22% between 2015 and 2018, and is nearly tied with higher wages/subcontractor bids as the most widespread effect of the labor shortages.

labor shortage graph

The survey also revealed that labor and subcontractor costs have risen much higher than the rate of inflation over the past year. From July 2017 to July 2018, for example, overall inflation was up 2.9%, but labor costs increased by 5.2% and subcontractor costs jumped by 7.2% over the same period.

This is particularly significant, given that three-fourths of construction costs typically represent the work performed by subcontractors. It is also consistent with the NAHB survey results showing that the incidence of shortages was higher for subcontractors than for labor directly employed builders in 14 of 15 occupations.

View the complete survey on labor availability.

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Posted on October 22, 2018 by Jorie Helms

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Posted on October 4, 2018 by Jorie Helms

The new trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, has the potential to yield positive developments regarding the ongoing U.S.-Canada lumber trade dispute.

All three nations must still ratify the new agreement.

While the accord does not specifically address the lumber trade conflict, it does leave in place the dispute resolution mechanism from NAFTA’s Chapter 19. Now moved to Chapter 31, it allows a panel with representatives from each country that is party to a dispute to challenge tariffs that may be imposed.

Under NAFTA, the Chapter 19 mechanism has been successfully used by Canada in the past to challenge the U.S. on its softwood lumber trade restrictions.

With the negotiations on the USMCA accord now completed by the three nations, this leaves open the possibility that the U.S. and Canada can now focus on resolving bilateral trade issues regarding softwood lumber.

NAHB Chairman Randy Noel has sent a letter to President Trump urging him to negotiate now.

For more information, contact David Logan at 800-368-5242 x8448 or Alex Strong at x8279.

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Posted on October 1, 2018 by Jorie Helms

Jim Campbell, of Jim Campbell Homes, left, and Mike Means, executive vice president of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association, stand outside a Campbell home at 6501 NW 113 and talk about the association's Certified Professional Builder program, which recently received national industry attention. [PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN]

-The new house still had a way to go: Opening the front door released roiling clouds of wood stain fumes that spilled out to a lawn mired in a mix of mud and mayhem — weeds everywhere.

But a sign staked in front offered assurance to neighbors and passers-by: "Certified Professional Builder-OSHBA," a seal of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association.

“This house burned down right after Christmas last year, and this guy had to find a builder,” builder Jim Campbell said. "The first thing he started looking for is, ‘How do I know this is someone I can trust?' ”

The seal certifies that Jim Campbell Homes participates in the state builders group's Certified Professional Builder program, which recently attracted national industry attention.

In place since 2003, the voluntary program requires participating builders to go through continuing education, build to code at minimum, work with written contracts, offer a one-year warranty on their work, meet credit standards as set by their local associations, and carry a minimum premium insurance policy of workers' compensation and a minimum $1 million in general liability coverage.

“This is something they (consumers) can go back to, if they have a problem," Campbell said. "What I point out is we don't license (builders) in Oklahoma, so this is as close as you're going to get.”

The Executive Officers Council of the National Association of Home Builders recently recognized the Certified Builder program with an Award of Excellence in Service. The council consists of the staff executives of 700-plus state and local builders groups making up the national association.

“Winning an Association Excellence Award is a great honor," said Eric Person, president of the Executive Officers Council and CEO of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Central Connecticut. "Each award recognizes the outstanding effort, commitment and achievement our homebuilding associations and their membership make to further the value and importance of their organization.”

The Certified Professional Builder program does that by highlighting what the state group already offers, said Mike Means, executive vice president of the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association.

"It's a program that recognizes our best of the best builders,” Means said. “What we do, by promoting the Certified Professional Builder program, is helping the builders.”

Campbell said the designation sends a clear message to the market.

“I think with this program, it brings builders out who are already doing the quality work,” he said. “So a lot of it's more about how I'm working with the public.

"What can I offer you to get the quality house built? One that has a warranty that comes with it? A builder that's going to be around in the long run? So if you need to you can call me and I'll take care of it. “

The state association also has an obligation to the builders who pursue certified designation, since it's voluntary, Campbell said.

“Our responsibility is to help promote the certified builders,” he said. “So if you go to the (OSHBA) website, the only builders you're going to see listed there are our Certified Professional Builders."

The association also arranges opportunities for builders to get the required annual continuing education.

One way is by staging events such as the annual Oklahoma Building Summit & Expo held earlier this month at Cox Convention Center, where expects expounded on topics such as cloud technology and advances in home automation.

Thanks to the exposure the Certified Builder program got with the national recognition, Means said Washington state builders are considering a similar program.

"That's what you do. When you put in for a program, you're putting yourself out there, and you know somebody's going to pick up on it.”

For Campbell, the motivation for seeking the certified designation stretches back to May 3, 1999, when a massive, slow-moving tornado churned its way through central Oklahoma, leaving death and destruction in Bridge Creek, Del City, Midwest City, Moore and parts of Oklahoma City.

“What struck me — that was the first time I was involved in a disaster — was the people who came out of the woodwork who were promoting themselves as builders,” Campbell said. “And, especially over in Del City where I was building, there were a lot of people who got halfway through builds, and then those guys would disappear."

Being a Certified Builder, he said, "gives us the background to say 'Hey, I'll be here.' I've been building since 1989. So I kind of push that fact.”

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Posted on September 25, 2018 by Jorie Helms

The Oklahoma State Home Builders Association (OSHBA) recently received an Award of Excellence in the following category from the Executive Officers Council (EOC) of the National Association of Home Builders: Best Service Provided by State Association or Local Association. Awards were presented during the annual National Association of Home Builders’ 2018 Association Management Conference held in Long Beach, Calif.

The council's membership consists of the staff executives who manage the more than 700 state and local home builders associations that comprise the National Association of Home Builders.

"Winning an Association Excellence Award is a great honor," said Eric Person, president of the Executive Officers Council and CEO of the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Central Connecticut. "Each award recognizes the outstanding effort, commitment, and achievement our home building associations and their membership make to further the value and importance of their organization.”

The winning entries will be available in the AEA Awards Directory to help other executives and associations across the country provide better service to members and their community.

The Oklahoma State Home Builders Association represents home builders and associates in the housing industry throughout the state area.

“I am proud to be recognized by the NAHB Executive Officers Council with the Association Excellence Award for Best Service Provided by a State or Local Association.” Said Mike Means, Executive Officer of OSHBA. “They recognized our efforts on behalf of our locals and to be recognized by our peers is an honor.”

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Posted on August 29, 2018 by Jorie Helms

                               left to right - Dan Reeves, Governor Mary Fallin, David Blackburn (President of OSHBA) and Mike Means, EVP.

Members of the OSHBA joined other industry members of the Western Governors Association to have lunch with Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma.  Members of OSHBA shared with Governor Fallin the effects of the lumber tariff and urged her to communicate to her colleagues and President Trump to work to resolve the issue.

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Posted on August 20, 2018 by Jorie Helms

A saw cuts a block containing silica, creating silica dustThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday released a set of 53 frequently asked questions – and their answers – to provide guidance to employers and employees on its respirable crystalline silica standard for construction.

Through the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, NAHB was an important contributor to the formulation of this FAQ. The development stemmed from litigation filed against OSHA by numerous construction industry trade associations challenging the legality of the new silica rule.

NAHB will continue to look for ways to work with OSHA to improve the workability of this significant rule.

The FAQ is extensive and organized by topic. A short introductory paragraph is included for each group of questions; the answers appear in an expanded box when each question is clicked.

Importantly, the FAQ clarifies that many common construction tasks are likely to be outside the scope of the standard. This includes mixing small amounts of mortar; mixing small amounts of concrete; mixing bagged, silica-free drywall compound; mixing bagged exterior insulation finishing system base and finish coat; and removing concrete formwork.

In addition, tasks in which employees are working with silica products that are handled while wet are likely to generate exposures outside of the scope of the standard, including finishing and hand wiping block walls to remove excess wet mortar, pouring concrete, and grouting floor and wall tiles. The FAQ also states that many silica-generating tasks performed for 15 minutes or less a day will fall outside the scope of the standard.

Other clarifications in the FAQ highlighted by NAHB staff include:

Table 1. The requirement that employers “[o]perate and maintain” tools “in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions to minimize dust emissions,” applies only to manufacturer instructions that are related to dust control.  Other information in these instructions, including recommended respiratory protection, do not have to be followed for purposes of the standard.

OSHA also has agreed to issue a Request for Information on Table 1 to revise the table to improve its utility.

Written Exposure Control Plan. The standard does not require employers to develop a newwritten plan for each job or worksite. It requires only that employers have a written exposure control plan applicable to each worksite. Employers may develop a single, comprehensive, written exposure-control plan that covers all required aspects of the plan for all work activities at all worksites.

Also, the standard does not preclude employees from entering work areas where silica-generating tasks are occurring when it is necessary for them to do so. Rather, the rule calls only for minimizing the number of employees in the relevant work areas.

All home builders should carefully review the new FAQ at https://www.osha.gov/dsg/topics/silicacrystalline/construction_info_silica.html.

For additional information, contact Rob Matuga at 800-368-5242 x8507 or Felicia Watson at 800-368-5242 x8229.

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Posted on August 20, 2018 by Jorie Helms

As the official NAHB membership sponsor, Signature Kitchen Suite is offering an all-inclusive trip to Napa Valley to each of the top six Builder members who sign up the most new* members during the fall membership drive.

The competition runs from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, 2018. Builder members will compete against others from HBAs similar in size (see size categories below). The top two members from each category will be invited to attend and bring a guest. HBA categories are:

  • Small: 0 – 249 members
  • Medium: 250 – 499 members
  • Large: 500+ members

The prize includes:

  • 3-day, 3-night trip from Wednesday to Saturday
  • Airfare, meals, hotel and transportation
  • Exclusive Signature Kitchen Suite Experience featuring sous vide cooking demos and learning more about the True to Food™ philosophy and Technicurean™ customer
  • Great food, fine wine and fun activities (wine tour or golf)

* Membership renewals will not be included.

Official rules coming soon.

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Posted on July 9, 2018 by Jorie Helms

BY RICHARD MIZE
Real Estate Editor rmize@oklahoman.com

Picture

Dan Reeves of Landmark Fine Homes in Norman built this “voice-controlled” concept home at 741 Villaverde Drive in Norman. [PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN]

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Park space is shown in the Seiter Farms addition in Moore.

[PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN]

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New homes are shown along SE 38 in Seiter Farms addition, west of S Sunnylane Road between SE 34 and Indian Hills Road in Moore. [PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN]

Metro-area homebuilders surpassed last year’s pace at midyear, but fear some speed bumps ahead because of skyrocketing lumber and labor costs.

Builders started 2,473 houses by the end of June, 2.3 percent more than in the first half of 2017, according to The Builder Report by Dharma Inc. in Norman.

Dharma tracks building permits in Oklahoma City, unincorporated Oklahoma County, Bethany, Blanchard, Choctaw, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore, Mustang, Newcastle, Noble, Norman, Shawnee and Yukon.

Lumber and labor

“Builders biggest concern is the out-of-control material costs,” said Tony Foust, owner of Da Vinci Homes in Norman and president of Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association. “We have seen in some cases a 40 percent increase from January to June, and it shows no signs of stopping.

“It has stemmed from the lumber tariffs with Canada and our government not allowing us to harvest our own resources. The other concern is the increased labor cost due to the shortage of labor and skilled labor.

“These are the two items at the top of the residential builders’ concern. These two factors are driving up the cost and extending time of construction.”

Buyer interest has been strong so far this year and could spike further to get ahead of possible steeper increases in house prices, said Ali Farzaneh, co-owner of Home Creations in Moore.

“Business has proved to be great in 2018,” he said. “We did not expect the tariffs to drive the housing prices up so much, but even with the increase in the price of homes and the increase in interest rates, we are 10 percent ahead of where we were last year this time.”

Farzaneh said Home Creations has more than 200 custom homes under contract with deliveries as far out as early 2019. With prices fixed, he said the increase in tariffs and material costs could drive construction costs higher than sales prices, which would have them selling at a loss.

Buyers are paying attention to finance and international trade, he said.

“Buyers are starting to understand the impact tariffs and a rising interest rate have on the price of homes, and as a result, their mortgage payments. Most buyers are trying to purchase their new home before the next wave of price increases,” Farzaneh said.

Rising rates, costs

Oklahoma City’s Homes by Taber is having its best year ever, and is on pace to surpass its 2018 goal of 340 sales, said Lindsay Haltom, director of marketing.

“We are consistently reminding shoppers that interest rates and construction costs are on the rise,” Haltom said. “What does that mean for them? It means that what they are able to afford now, will not be the same home they can afford later. Our construction costs have increased by the thousands and luckily, we have been able to sustain our price points with minimal increases.

“No matter your political stance, the facts are that (President) Trump’s tariffs have increased costs that are being funneled down to consumers. We are doing our absolute best to absorb these increased costs ourselves whenever possible, but that cannot go on forever. If you are in construction, you’re feeling those added costs of lumber and steel.”

Interest rates won’t stay low forever, either, she said.

“If it’s not on their mind already, we want to make sure we are educating them about this key issue. While a small shift in interest rates can seem nominal, when someone is shopping based on monthly payments, this can greatly influence their ability to purchase,” Haltom said.

Ideal Homes of Norman was two months ahead of 2018 projected sales at midyear, and expects buyer enthusiasm to stay strong throughout 2018, said Steve Shoemaker, vice president of sales and marketing.

Buyers are “informed about their buying power,” he said. “There are so many tools online for buyers to learn about how interest rates will impact their mortgage payment.

“Interest rates are still low, but people know they’re likely headed up and buyers are acting accordingly. We spend a lot of time talking to potential buyers about the total cost of ownership — not just their mortgage payment, but heating and cooling costs and other things that impact their monthly budget.”

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Posted on July 5, 2018 by Jorie Helms

The headline may seem a bit ironic, if you are thinking about the passage of SQ 788, the medical marijuana bill.  But it actually refers to the number of pro-business candidates that we supported who won or are in the primary.

The biggest disappointment was Lt. Governor Todd Lamb not making the runoff for Governor.  Our history with Lamb when he was a state senator was our biggest reason for supporting him.  His pro-business reputation and his authorship of one of our most important pieces of legislation deserved our support.  But our disappointment is balanced by the fact that both Mick Cornett and Kevin Stitt appear to be two pro-business candidates.

I recently read a story in Oklahoma Watch that said, “The biggest prize will be the 23.9 percent of GOP primary voters who cast ballots for Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, the one-time favorite in the race who was eliminated after he came a few thousand votes shy of cracking the top two. A June 6-7 poll by Right Strategy Group found that more than half of Lamb supporters identified themselves as “very conservative”. This could favor Stitt because about 47 percent of his supporters said they were “very conservative” while just 30 percent of Cornett’s backers identified similarly.  August 28 will give us the answer.

We backed Matt Pinnell for Lt. Governor and he advanced to the runoff where he will face Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy.  

We backed Mike Hunter for Attorney General and he advanced to the runoff where he will face Gentner Drummond.  This was a very bitter primary and many wonder if it will be just as bitter during the runoff election.

We backed all the incumbents for Congress and they all won their primaries without a hitch.  In the open seat for the 1st Congressional District we backed businessman Kevin Hern who advanced to the runoff.

In the vast majority of House and Senate races for the Oklahoma Legislature, we fared very well.  We were involved in 5 Senate races and won 4.  We were involved in 14 House races in which those we supported won 10, made the runoff in 2 and lost 2.

So once again, thank you to those who helped by voting and especially to those who supported our PAC.  And remember, if you donate to Build-PAC by July 15, you are also helping our state PAC in time to make an impact in the general election.  Send me an email and I will give you the details on how to help your industry.

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Posted on June 15, 2018 by Jorie Helms

Garret Morgan (center) is training as an ironworker near Seattle and already has a job that pays him $50,000 a year.

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

Like most other American high school students, Garret Morgan had it drummed into him constantly: Go to college. Get a bachelor's degree.

"All through my life it was, 'if you don't go to college you're going to end up on the streets,' " Morgan said. "Everybody's so gung-ho about going to college."

So he tried it for a while. Then he quit and started training as an ironworker, which is what he is doing on a weekday morning in a nondescript high-ceilinged building with a concrete floor in an industrial park near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Are you heading to a program to prepare for a job? Are you going for an associates degree in your field? Maybe you're foregoing a degree entirely.

We want to hear about your choice (or your students' choices).

Email us at npred@npr.org.

Morgan and several other men and women are dressed in work boots, hard hats and Carhartt's, clipped to safety harnesses with heavy wrenches hanging from their belts. They're being timed as they wrestle 600-pound I-beams into place.

Seattle is a forest of construction cranes, and employers are clamoring for skilled ironworkers. Morgan, who is 20, is already working on a job site when he isn't at the Pacific Northwest Ironworkers shop. He gets benefits, including a pension, from employers at the job sites where he is training. And he is earning $28.36 an hour, or more than $50,000 a year, which is almost certain to steadily increase.

As for his friends from high school, "they're still in college," he said with a wry grin. "Someday maybe they'll make as much as me."

Raising alarms

While a shortage of workers is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades, the financial return from a bachelor's degree is softening, even as the price — and the average debt into which it plunges students — keeps going up.

But high school graduates have been so effectively encouraged to get a bachelor's that high-paid jobs requiring shorter and less expensive training are going unfilled. This affects those students and also poses a real threat to the economy.

"Parents want success for their kids," said Mike Clifton, who teaches machining at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, about 20 miles from Seattle. "They get stuck on [four-year bachelor's degrees], and they're not seeing the shortage there is in tradespeople until they hire a plumber and have to write a check."

Ironworkers practice tying rebar at the Iron Workers Local Union #86 Administrative Offices in Tukwila, Wash.

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

In a new report, the Washington State Auditor found that good jobs in the skilled trades are going begging because students are being almost universally steered to bachelor's degrees.

Among other things, the Washington auditor recommended that career guidance — including choices that require less than four years in college — start as early as the seventh grade.

"There is an emphasis on the four-year university track" in high schools, said Chris Cortines, who co-authored the report. Yet, nationwide, three out of 10 high school grads who go to four-year public universities haven't earned degrees within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. At four-year private colleges, that number is more than 1 in 5.

College Decision Day Brings Relief, Excitement And Big Worries About Money

NPR ED

College Decision Day Brings Relief, Excitement And Big Worries About Money

"Being more aware of other types of options may be exactly what they need," Cortines said. In spite of a perception "that college is the sole path for everybody," he said, "when you look at the types of wages that apprenticeships and other career areas pay and the fact that you do not pay four years of tuition and you're paid while you learn, these other paths really need some additional consideration."

And it's not just in Washington state.

Seventy-percent of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding qualified workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of America; in Washington, the proportion is 80 percent.

There are already more trade jobs like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, sheet-metal work and pipe-fitting than Washingtonians to fill them, the state auditor reports. Many pay more than the state's average annual wage of $54,000.

Construction, along with health care and personal care, will account for one-third of all new jobs through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There will also be a need for new plumbers and new electricians. And, as politicians debate a massive overhaul of the nation's roads, bridges and airports, the U.S. Department of Education reports that there will be 68 percent more job openings in infrastructure-related fields in the next five years than there are people training to fill them.

"The economy is definitely pushing this issue to the forefront," said Amy Morrison Goings, president of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, which educates students in these fields. "There isn't a day that goes by that a business doesn't contact the college and ask the faculty who's ready to go to work."

In all, some 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year don't require bachelor's degrees, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.

Yet the march to bachelor's degrees continues. And while people who get them are more likely to be employed and make more money than those who don't, that premium appears to be softening; their median earnings were lower in 2015, when adjusted for inflation, than in 2010.

"There's that perception of the bachelor's degree being the American dream, the best bang for your buck," said Kate Blosveren Kreamer, deputy executive director of Advance CTE, an association of state officials who work in career and technical education. "The challenge is that in many cases it's become the fallback. People are going to college without a plan, without a career in mind, because the mindset in high school is just, 'Go to college.' "

Matthew Dickinson, 21, asks a classmate for help as they rebuild an automatic transmission in an auto repair technician program classes at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology.

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

It's not that finding a job in the trades, or even manufacturing, means needing no education after high school. Most regulators and employers require certificates, certifications or associate degrees. But those cost less and take less time than earning a bachelor's degree. Tuition and fees for in-state students to attend a community or technical college in Washington State, for example, come to less than half the cost of a four-year public university, the state auditor points out, and less than a tenth of the price of attending a private four-year college.

People with career and technical educations are also more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and significantly more likely to be working in their fields of study.

Young people don't seem to be getting that message. The proportion of high school students who earned three or more credits in occupational education — typically an indication that they're interested in careers in the skilled trades — has fallen from 1 in 4 in 1990 to 1 in 5 now, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Washington is not the only state devoting attention to this. California is spending $200 million to improve the delivery of career and technical education. Iowa community colleges and businesses are collaborating to increase the number of "work-related learning opportunities," including apprenticeships, job shadowing and internships. Tennessee has made its technical colleges free.

Who's Missing From America's Colleges? Rural High School Graduates

NPR ED

Who's Missing From America's Colleges? Rural High School Graduates

So severe are looming shortages of workers in the skilled trades in Michigan that Gov. Rick Snyder in February announced a $100 million proposal he likens to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.

At the federal level, there is bipartisan support for making Pell grants available for short-term job-training courses and not just university tuition. The Trump administration supports the idea.

For all the promises to improve vocational education, however, a principal federal source of money for it, called Tech-Prep, hasn't been funded since 2011. A quarter of states last year reduced their own funding for postsecondary career and technical education, according to the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education.

The branding issue

Money isn't the only issue, advocates for career and technical education say. An even bigger challenge is convincing parents that it leads to good jobs.

Darren Redford, 20, looks to his instructor after completing a connector mockup drill at the Iron Workers Local Union #86 Administrative Offices in Tukwila, Wash.

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

"They remember 'voc-ed' from when they were in high school, which is not necessarily what they aspire to for their own kids," Kreamer said.

The parents "are definitely harder to convince because there is that stigma of the six-pack-totin' ironworker," said Greg Christiansen, who runs the ironworkers training program. Added Kairie Pierce, apprenticeship and college director for the Washington State Labor Council of the AFL-CIO: "It sort of has this connotation of being a dirty job. 'It's hard work — I want something better for my son or daughter.' "

Of the $200 million that California is spending on vocational education, $6 million is going into a campaign to improve the way people regard it. The Lake Washington Institute of Technology changed its name from Lake Washington Technical College, said Goings, its president, to avoid being stereotyped as a vocational school.

These perceptions fuel the worry that, if students are urged as early as the seventh grade to consider the trades, then low-income, first-generation and ethnic and racial minority high school students will be channeled into blue-collar jobs while wealthier and white classmates are pushed by their parents to get bachelor's degrees.

"When CTE was vocational education, part of the reason we had a real disinvestment from the system was because we were tracking low-income and minority kids into these pathways," Kreamer said. "There is this tension between, do you want to focus on the people who would get the most benefit from these programs, and — is that tracking?"

Amy Morrison Goings, president of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, says, "There isn't a day that goes by that a business doesn't contact the college and ask the faculty who's ready to go to work."

Sy Bean/The Hechinger Report

In a quest for prestige and rankings, and to bolster real-estate values, high schools also like to emphasize the number of their graduates who go on to four-year colleges and universities.

Jessica Bruce followed that path, enrolling in community college after high school for one main reason: because she was recruited to play fast-pitch softball. "I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life," she said.

Now, she's an apprentice ironworker, making $32.42 an hour, or more than $60,000 a year, while continuing her training. At 5-foot-2, "I can run with the big boys," she said, laughing.

As for whether anyone looks down on her for not having a bachelor's degree, Bruce doesn't particularly care.

"The misconception," she said, "is that we don't make as much money."

And then she laughed again.

Taylor Fawcett, 23, moves a column during a connector mockup drill at the Iron Workers Local Union #86 Administrative Offices in Tukwila, Wash.

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Posted on May 30, 2018 by Jorie Helms

remodeler of the month

Ken Saltink is the NAHB Remodeler of the Month for May.

Long before he chose a career path, Ken Saltink, CGR, CAPS, owner of All American Remodel in Tulsa, Okla, started woodworking as merely a hobby to save some money on furniture. “I saw an entertainment center for sale and I thought to myself, I could build that,” Saltink recalls.

So he purchased an old Craftsman table saw and got to work. He also began building other small items, and before he knew it, he was hooked.

That hobby developed into a true passion for building, which propelled him into what has become a successful remodeling career — for which, Saltink has earned the honor of becoming May’s NAHB Remodeler of the Month.

Saltink says keeping his company small has yielded positive results over the years. It’s given him the ability to keep his expenses low, and it’s allowed him the freedom to choose which jobs he wants to take — ensuring both the project and client are a good fit.

And being on the jobsite as much as possible throughout the project enables him to respond promptly to any questions the home owners might have. That strategy has helped reinforce quality customer service and create a continual stream of word-of-mouth referrals.

He also says being a part of the HBA of Greater Tulsa Remodelers Council has helped his business grow, too. However, he admits that before joining the council more than 30 years ago, he was skeptical about the value of membership.

“I reluctantly joined the HBA after several years of getting hounded by some of my business associates. My excuse was that I did not need any more work,” Saltink said. “[But] after joining, I came to realize … how invaluable it is to network with like-minded remodelers. I no longer look at them as competitors but as comrades thrown into the same boat as myself. When any of us have a problem, we openly share our experiences on how to deal with situations.”

Read the full Q&A in Qualified Remodeler magazine for more details on how Saltink keeps his company size small to pick the jobs he wants.

Know a professional remodeler who takes remodeling to the next level? Nominate him or her for NAHB Remodeler of the Month.

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Posted on May 30, 2018 by Jorie Helms

Don't get caught short underestimating the still evolving wave of demand for single-family homes and communities.

By 

Can two statements that contradict each other both be true?

When it comes to Millennials, evidently paradox may be the rule, not the exception.

For instance, age is just a number.

And, demographics is destiny.

So, if age is just a number, which would help explain how 35 might in fact be the new 25, then how can the other statement--that demographics is destiny--also be valid? Age, after all, is a building block of demographics, the science of people patterns.

Remember, demographics technically refers to people and household patterns, and demographically-defined generational cohorts have to do with birth-rate cycles, which tend to encompass subsets of people who share values, attitudes, preferences, and behaviors we generally refer to as psychographics for segmentation purposes.

At any rate, conventional wisdom has suggested that Millennials--a generational cohort most demographers would agree includes today's 21- to 37-year-old adults--have been one of housing's bigger unfurling mysteries of the past hundred years or so.

That's because a perfect storm of a profound, life-altering Great Recession, heaps of college-related student debt, social norms around family formation, marriage and children, technology, and workplace transformation have been playing out simultaneously as this cohort has exited post-secondary studies, entered the workforce, and begun to behave as functioning adults in society.

Seldom--in the times since "housing cycles" have come to be a thing--have such materially important variables with such significant potential impact on housing type preferences, means, aspirations, and intentions been up for grabs.

What's interesting is that much of the focus on the latency of Millennial adults in lifestages having to do with pairing up, forming households, forming families, and creating two-parent households with children--the principle demographic engine of any economy--has been on the financial after-effects of the last decade's downturn and slow recovery. A post-traumatic, deeply indebted, urban-centric Renter Nation seemed to be on the verge of changing how housing, communities, and neighborhoods would work in America.

Not so much.

Age was just a number. And, demographics was destiny. As Millennials crossed the 35-year-old threshold, they've seemed to double-down on more historically common housing preference choices and preferences.

And the funny thing is, it's not all about finances, career trajectories, and economics in the wake of the Recession's destructive effects. Here's a piece from New York Times contributor Roni Caryn Rabin that explores how many Millennials have chosen to wait to form couples and create families with almost entirely different motivations.

Sociologists, psychologists and other experts who study relationships say that this practical no-nonsense attitude toward marriage has become more the norm as women have piled into the work force in recent decades. During that time, the median age of marriage has risen to 29.5 for men and 27.4 for women in 2017, up from 23 for men and 20.8 for women in 1970.

Both men and women now tend to want to advance their careers before settling down. Many are carrying student debt and worry about the high cost of housing.

They often say they would like to be married before starting a family, but some express ambivalence about having children. Most important, experts say, they want a strong foundation for marriage so they can get it right — and avoid divorce.

“People are not postponing marriage because they care about marriage less, but because they care about marriage more,” said Benjamin Karney, a professor of social psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Now, this central insight on shared values--values about the marriage and family relationship--can be an important engagement point for residential builders and developers who seek attributive moments and points of traction with potential home buying customers.

What's more, the demographics going forward are one exceptionally robust prospect for community and home developers who're able to crack the code of price, product, location, and customer care.

The Zelman & Associates team of analysts' latest The Z Report takes a careful look at the data dashboard on the vanguard group of Millennials, those who've crossed the 35-year-old threshold and are now in the 35-to-44 year-old age segment for housing type. The conclusion the Zelman report reaches--which you can sample for free by clicking on this link--is nothing short of astonishing:

"Over the last five years, 69% [of 35-44 year olds] have chosen single-family living versus just 25% for multi-family. Thus, a 35-44 year old is 2.7 times more likely to skew towards the single-family lifestyle. With outsized growth forecasted for this age cohort at the expense of weakening trends for younger peers, to us, it is clear that demand for single-family housing should outpace multi-family, even after considering any secular trends related to young adults forming families later in life. We do not believe that this is appreciated by the vast majority of housing market analysts and investors."

Are you ready for the wait-and-hurry-up generation?

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Posted on May 29, 2018 by Jorie Helms

Statistics show that only 2% of your website visitors complete the online contact form. NAHB Remodelers would like to help you build amazing content to successfully convert visitors to leads.

Led by speaker Bobby Tsui of Inbound Mill Inc., the webinar From Content to Conversion: Building a Killer Websiteset for 1-2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30, will help participants:

  • Identify the latest tools and technologies to help you develop a dynamic website
  • Review the types of content that make your website more appealing to customers
  • Describe how to convert website visitors into viable business leads

Participants can earn one hour of continuing education credits for these 12 NAHB designations: CAPS, CGA, CGB, CGP, CGR, CMP, CSP, GMB, GMR, Master CGP, Master CSP and MIRM.

Registration is open until 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) May 29. For registration questions, contact Sheila Coble at 800-368-5242 x8057.

This free webinar is brought to you from NAHB Remodelers because May is National Home Remodeling Month and the month’s sponsors: AmerifirstBuildDirect and Paslode.

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Posted on May 9, 2018 by Jorie Helms

Home owners spent more than $152 billion in remodeling projects in 2017. And this year is projected to be even busier for the remodeling industry, which typically kicks into high gear each year as the warmer weather of spring sets in.

That’s why May is the best time to celebrate National Home Remodeling Month — an opportunity for remodelers and home builders across the country to promote their businesses and raise consumer awareness of the benefits of hiring a professional remodeler to get the job done.

For members of NAHB Remodelers, building a strategy couldn’t be easier: They have access to a step-by-step guide for National Home Remodeling Month and tips to maximize promotion efforts, as well as an online toolkit filled with free resources, including:

  • Social media graphics and sample posts
  • A consumer brochure on finding the right professional remodeler
  • An infographic highlighting aging-in-place statistics
  • An article about the benefits of green remodeling
  • Lists of top remodeling projects

Additionally, NAHB Remodelers is hosting five free professional development webcasts in the month of May exclusively for NAHB Remodeler members. The webcasts will be held May 1, 8, 15, 22 and 30, and each will begin at 1 p.m. ET.

National Home Remodeling Month is sponsored by AmerifirstBuildDirect and Paslode.

For questions about these members-only resources, contact remodel@nahb.org. You can also join the NAHB Remodelers Facebook and LinkedIn groups for continued discussion and to share ideas. Or to learn about joining NAHB Remodelers, visit nahb.org/whynahbr.

 

 

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Posted on April 19, 2018 by Jorie Helms

Fort Worth, Texas - Acme Brick Company is celebrating the company’s 127th year in business on April 17th by presenting each employee with two pair of cotton/spandex socks. One pair bears an image of Acme’s Brick Boy mascot who makes appearances at various events.  The second pair features the famous Acme red logo.  “Sometimes you need to build top of mind awareness for your company from the bottom up”, quipped Acme’s Director of Marketing, Britt Stokes.

     Acme was founded on April 17, 1891, just 26 years after the end of the civil war and the same year that James Naismith invented the game of basketball.  Also in 1891 Benjamin Harrison was President of the U.S. and Thomas Edison patented the “transmission of signals electrically” otherwise known as radio!

     Acme had its humble beginnings on the banks of Rock Creek, near the town of Millsap, about 30 miles west of Fort Worth, Texas.  

The company has grown to become the largest U.S. brick company in the world. Acme residential and commercial masonry products are available throughout the U.S., and southern Canada. The company 

 

has produced brick for well over two million homes during its history and many thousands of commercial, civic and educational buildings. Acme Brick Company has consistently ranked at the top in opinion surveys of the nation’s largest homebuilders concerning product quality and product awareness and is the only brick manufacturer that stamps its logo into residential brick products.  All

 residential brick products are supported by Acme’s Homebuyer’s 100 Year Limited Guarantee.

     Acme now offers many other home-related products: Iron Doors, fire pits and fireplaces, quality grills, outdoor kitchens, traditional fireplaces, natural and man-made stone, wood floors and tile.

Acme Brick company is the nation’s largest brickmaker. The company owns 17 brick plants and has 69 company-owned sales offices across 14 states, plus a nationwide network of independent distributors. Acme has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. since 2000.  For more information visit www.brick.com.

 

 

For more PRESS information contact: Ron Taylor/Ashley & Taylor Public Relations (817) 874-8206 or taylorpr@spindle.net.

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Posted on April 9, 2018 by Jorie Helms

 

For the past several days, there has been a movement at the House of Representatives to try and pass SB 1086, a bill to remove the exemption on Capital Gains.  A lot of attention has been given the issue because the consultant hired to evaluate the exemption recommended its demise.  The Incentive Evaluation Commission instead voted to retain it.

I would like to submit another reason this exemption should remain in place.  It is from my experience as the former Oklahoma County Assessor.

The way ad valorem (property) taxes work is this.  A piece of property is assessed according to market value each year.  Most of the time, this reassessment causes the property value to rise.  This increased assessment results in higher property taxes.

Yet this resultant increase in property taxes is on unrealized gain.  The property in question has not necessarily increased your cash flow and in many instances not at all.  Nevertheless, a person pays property taxes on that unrealized gain.

As most of us know, the largest portion of property taxes goes to Education.

So I submit, the gain on real property has already been taxed for education.  To do so again due to loss of the capital gains exemption will result in double taxation.

SB 1086 is a bad idea.  Let’s hope the House of Representatives does not bring it up for a vote.

 

Mike Means, Executive Officer

Oklahoma State Home Builders Assn

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Posted on April 6, 2018 by Jorie Helms
 
 
 

Provided by: Gene Spencer, Director of Underwriting, CompSource Mutual Insurance Company

Contractors often ask, “How do I

protect myself from being held liable for

a subcontractor’s workers’ compensation claim or getting hit with premium during the premium audit?” The short answer is, understand what constitutes an employer/employee relationship, work with subcontractors you trust and make sure they have workers’ compensation insurance.

You become liable for workers’ compensation premiums and potential claims when the contractor/subcontractor relationship is, in fact, an employer/employee relationship. To determine if this relationship exists, use the IRS guidelines for actions that establish an employer/employee relationship. The IRS recommends evaluating the entire relationship and consider the degree and extent of control and independence the subcontractor has, and document each factor

Editor’s Note: OSHBA has an affinity arrangement with CompSource.

used in making the determination. The premium auditor will look at these and others specific to workers’ compensation to determine if premium should be collected for the assumed risk during the policy period.

Keep in mind, you could still be liable for a workplace accident, even if an employee/employer relationship does not exist. This occurs when a subcontractor does not have a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy, and one of their employees is injured on your job site. If a valid insurance policy is not in place, the liability rolls up to the contractor. Therefore, it is imperative you always get a Certificate of Insurance before work begins and, when possible, work with contractors you know and trust. Working with a trusted subcontractor reduces your likelihood of having to assume a direct supervisory role with the subcontractor or their employees that could cast you in the role of the subcontractor’s employer. Additionally, a reliable partner with an established track record is more likely to maintain appropriate workers’ compensation coverage for their employees.

Sometimes, it is necessary to work with new vendors; contractors can still take measures to protect their business, such as:

• Be familiar with what creates an employer/employee relationship

• Know what an authentic Certificate of Insurance looks like

• Know who qualifies to use a Certificate of Non-Coverage

• Get a Certificate of Insurance or Certificate of Non-Coverage well in advance of work being started and set reminders to request updated certificates before they expire

By using these tips when you hire a subcontractor, you can help protect your business. For more information on this or other workers’ compensation insurance questions, visit our website at or call one our underwriting, claims or loss prevention experts at (405) 232-7663. 

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Posted on March 22, 2018 by Jorie Helms

Thank you Rock Cafe for letting us use your beautiful restaurant!

 

 

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Posted on March 15, 2018 by Jorie Helms

 

The Home Depot Foundation announced yesterday a $50 million commitment to partner with HBI to train 20,000 new skilled workers over the next 10 years.

HBI, the industry’s education arm, trains separating military members, high school students and at-risk youth for careers in the skilled trades. The grant will significantly increase the number of workers trained through HBI curriculum and help address the industry’s labor shortage.

“We want to bring shop class back, from coast-to-coast,” said Shannon Gerber, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation. “We’re thrilled to train 20,000 next-generation plumbers, electricians, carpenters and beyond.”

HBI joined forces with The Home Depot Foundation last year to launch a pilot trades training program for military members at Fort Stewart, Georgia and Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The first set of students will graduate this month.

“Our program prepares men and women for high-growth careers in the industry after leaving military service,” said HBI CEO John Courson. “With 200,000 service members separating from the military every year, our partnership with The Home Depot Foundation enables us to serve more veterans across the country.”

The 12-week pre-apprenticeship certification program, which is provided at no cost to students, uses industry-based curriculum recognized by the Department of Labor that integrates work-based learning with technical and academic skills. The program, which has a job placement rate of more than 90%, will now roll out on additional bases across the United States.

Learn more about HBI’s training programs at hbi.org.

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Posted on March 6, 2018 by Jorie Helms

To Offset the Lack of Skilled Workers, Contractors Increase use of Efficient Building Approaches

**Article and research provided by Dodge Data & Analytics**

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Q1 2018 USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index (Index), released today, reveals nearly two-thirds of contractors are highly confident that demand for commercial construction will increase over the next year, however, continued concerns around labor shortages have put even greater pressure on the industry. To increase jobsite efficiency and improve labor productivity, increasingly more builders are turning to alternative construction solutions, like prefabrication and modularization.

The Q1 Index indicates contractors turn to innovations such as prefabricated and modular building materials to create more efficient jobsites (89 percent), increase labor productivity (85 percent), drive cost savings (58 percent), and provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace (51 percent). In fact, 50 percent of contractors report their companies already use prefabricated and modular components and the number was even higher among general contractors (72 percent). Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of contractors report at least moderate demand for these building materials.  

"Access to skilled labor is a continued concern, which has led contractors to increasingly seek solutions that help offset jobsite challenges,” said Jennifer Scanlon, president and chief executive officer of USG Corporation. “There is significant opportunity to introduce innovations that confront jobsite efficiency and strengthen the industry – such as solutions that enable prefabricated and modular building components.”

 

Contractors in the Northeast (69 percent) reported the most frequent usage of prefabricated and modular components, compared to the South where only 24 percent indicate their companies are using these materials. Firms in the Northeast also expect to hire fewer workers—38 percent of contractors in the region expect to employ more staff in the next six months, compared with 57 percent in the South, 59 percent in the West, and 68 percent in the Midwest. Across all regions, concern over the cost of hiring skilled labor has remained consistent over the past year—nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of contractors expect these costs to increase in the next six months.

Despite labor concerns, contractor sentiment remained steady for the first quarter, as a result of strong revenue expectations and higher profit margins, with a composite score of 74.

“As we work to continually build our neighborhoods, towns, regions, and roads, as well as the workforce that supports our growth, innovation becomes a key component in advancing our country into the 21st century,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. “We must invest in a skilled, competitive, motivated workforce and embrace new innovations to ensure we are able to compete on a global scale.”

The Index looks at the results of three leading indicators to gauge confidence in the commercial construction industry – backlog levels, new business opportunities and revenue forecasts – generating a composite index on a scale of 0 to 100 that serves as an indicator of health for the contractor segment on a quarterly basis. The Q1 2018 composite score was 74, holding steady from Q4 2017.  

The Q1 2018 results from the three key drivers were:

 

  • Backlog: On average, contractors currently hold 8.9 months of backlog, relatively close to the average ideal amount of 12.2 months, continuing the stability of the market, although there is room for growth. Down two points from Q4 2017, this represents 73 percent of ideal backlog levels.
  • New Business: Nearly all (98 percent) contractors report high or moderate confidence in the demand for commercial construction. Year-over-year, the number of contractors who have high confidence in demand over the next 12 months jumped 11 percentage points (from 51 percent in Q1 2017 to 62 percent in Q1 2018).
  • Revenues: Over half (54 percent) of contractors expect to see revenue gains in the next year. This percentage jumped seven points from last quarter (47 percent in Q4 2017).
 
The research was developed with Dodge Data & Analytics (DD&A), the leading provider of insights and data for the construction industry, by surveying commercial and institutional contractors.

About the Index

The USG Corporation + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index is a quarterly economic index designed to gauge the outlook for, and resulting confidence in, the commercial construction industry. USG Corporation and the U.S. Chamber produce this Index, along with Dodge Data & Analytics (DD&A). Each quarter, researchers from DD&A source responses from their Contractor Panel of more than 2,700 commercial construction decision-makers in order to better understand their levels of confidence in the industry and other key trends. This panel allows DD&A to provide findings that are representative of the entire U.S. construction industry by geography, size, and type of company.

Click here to see the full report, methodology, and graphics.

Please note the Commercial Construction Index report is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to support an investment decision with respect to USG Corporation, nor is it intended to be used for marketing purposes to any existing or prospective investor of USG. This report is not a forecast of future results for USG and actual results of USG may differ materially from those of the commercial construction industry.

Where the Index is Available

Each quarterly Index published is available on the USG Corporation website at www.usg.com/commercialconstructionindex as well as on the website www.CommercialConstructionIndex.com

About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. For more information, visit www.uschamber.com.

About USG Corporation
USG Corporation is an industry-leading manufacturer of building products and innovative solutions. Headquartered in Chicago, USG serves construction markets around the world through its Gypsum, Performance Materials, Ceilings, and USG Boral divisions. Its wall, ceiling, flooring, sheathing and roofing products provide the solutions that enable customers to build the outstanding spaces where people live, work and play. Its USG Boral Building Products joint venture is a leading plasterboard and ceilings producer across Asia, Australasia and the Middle East. For additional information, visit www.usg.com.

**Article and research provided by Dodge Data & Analytics**

 

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Posted on February 26, 2018 by Jorie Helms

By John Baker, President, OSHBA Remodelers Council

While some homeowners might dream of retiring to a private tropical island, more and more are choosing to “age in place” and live independently, comfortably, and safely in their own home, regardless of age or ability. 
 
As the Baby Boomer generation embraces this stage of life, many are searching for builders and remodelers who can help turn their home into a safer, more convenient place to live as they age.
 
As part of National Designation Month - a month where Oklahoma State Home Builders Association and the National Association of Home Builders shine a spotlight on industry professionals who go the extra mile to attain advanced training and achieve specialized designations - we recognize the importance of professionals who have received the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designation. 
 
CAPS professionals are helping people throughout Oklahoma find aging-in-place solutions that fit their specific needs and budget. CAPS remodelers and builders are trained to understand the unique needs of aging adults without sacrificing the aesthetic value of the home.   Our Association has conducted several courses over the past few years, showing the growing demand for this designation.
 
While there are countless ways CAPS remodelers can help make your home work for you, some of the most common aging-in-place renovations include:
Widening doorways and hallways
Installing brighter lighting
Adding railings or grab bars to prevent falls
Changing floor coverings to add traction
Installing ease-of-reach systems 
 
 
A Closer Look at the CAPS Difference
Aging homeowners looking to renovate need to be able to find a remodeler they can trust completely, and the CAPS designation helps give homeowners a guarantee that they’re working with a trustworthy professional who’s an expert in aging-in-place renovation. 
 
Upon graduation from the program, CAPS designees pledge to uphold a strict code of conduct, so you can be sure that they will listen closely to your specific needs and will never push you to add any renovations you don't need. 
 
CAPS professionals also commit to attending continuing education programs, so they are always up to date on the latest aging-in-place technologies and strategies. 
 
If you’re working with a CAPS designated remodeler, you can be confident that you’re getting the best quality service from a professional with integrity and expertise. 
 
More than 3,100 remodelers and builders hold this designation, including many working in Oklahoma.  Visit our website – www.okhba.org - to find one that is located near you.  There are also many other distinguished designations that our local builders have achieved to serve their clients and community better. A few include: 
 
Certified Green Professional (CGP) — those who incorporate eco-friendly building principles into their work, without driving up the cost of construction 
Certified Graduate Builder (CGB) or Remodeler (CGR) — those who have several years of industry experience and possess advanced skills not only as a tenanted home builder or remodeler but also as a trusted business manager. 
 
If you’d like to find a builder or remodeler in your area with a CAPS or other designation, contact www.okhba.org.  If you have questions, you can call the Association at (405) 843-5579.  You can also search the online directory at nahb.org. 
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Posted on February 19, 2018 by Jorie Helms

Top Design Trends for 2018

 

By David Blackburn, President

At the start of each year, the Best in American Living Awards (BALA) recognizes dozens of new projects from the past year that featured the most innovative layouts and eye-catching design elements.  It is something that I as a homebuilder take time to review.

 

Whether you’re looking to buy a new home, having a new home constructed on your land, thinking about remodeling your current residence, or you’re just interested in what’s new in home design, here are some the biggest trends that you’ll see dominating the landscape in 2018.

 

Open but defined floor plans. Instead of one large, undefined space, open floor plans will evolve to include more definition in 2018, whether it’s by shifting materials, adding columns, or changing the ceiling height. This way, you can still get the airiness of an open floor plan while giving each section its own definition and style. 

 

Restored and repurposed. Historic preservation and restoration, as well as adaptive reuse projects, are becoming increasingly popular with multifamily designers and developers. Adaptive reuse projects are particularly sought-after by millennials who love the story behind a repurposed building and want to live somewhere stylish, unique and chic.

 

Right-sized kitchens. Leave massive kitchen islands in 2017. You’ll be seeing far fewer double islands appearing in 2018, and even single islands are being designed to be smaller and more proportionally sized with the kitchen and adjoining rooms.  This is a cost saving idea when looking a remodel project since moving walls can be tricky.

 

Spa-like baths. Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re stepping into a spa every day? Bath design is trending toward refinement and sophistication, with home baths becoming more and more reminiscent of upscale hotels and spas. Tasteful and luxurious are the two words that will define baths in 2018. Floating vanities and stand-alone tubs will also be more popular this year.

 

Clean details. You’ll notice clean, simple lines and detailing in homes everywhere. Forget about overly-ornate decor and shift toward thinking more minimally. It will make your home feel fresh, new, and uncluttered for the year ahead. 

 

Metal and wood exterior details. You’ll be seeing this trend a lot this year, particularly on single-family homes. There will be an increased use of metal and wood in exterior details, with the two materials often combined to create interesting, two-tone facades for both traditional and contemporary-style homes. It gives the impression of bringing the past and future together into one cohesive idea, making homes seem modern and sleek without sacrificing a warm, natural feel.

 

Whites, grays and charcoal paints. Gray is still a strong trend with home buyers, and it looks like white is here to stay. You’ll see more monochromatic designs that add variety by incorporating multiple textures instead of pops of color. For example, think about a white kitchen with quartzite countertops, a white shiplap ceiling, white cabinets, and airy white window coverings. This creates a clean and multi-layer look that is guaranteed to compliment itself and please a wide variety of buyers.  Plus it is a design feature that has a long life.

 

For more information about the latest designs that could be incorporated in your home, or to find a builder in your area that can create the new home of your dreams, contact Oklahoma State Home Builders Association (www.okhba.org) for a list of our Certified Professional Builders or an association near you.

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Posted on February 12, 2018 by Jorie Helms

 

By: Lisa Cini, ASID

 

Homebuilders and designers are now faced with the reality that boomers want homes that they can age in place without ever having to move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. Builders all over the world are offering unprecedented opportunities for single and multi-generational families who can now provide their clients the peace of mind and flexibility to live in a new environment that supports and enables them to thrive as they age.  

The interior environment of a modern ‘forever home’ allows clients to live their best without compromising on great design.  Senior living is in a state of transformation as technology and design are integrated to give decades of flexibility and freedom. 

Senior living is on the verge of a renaissance fueled by technology and design. We are living in the best possible time to age on our own terms and experiencing the tipping point, on the edge of a paradigm shift today that will affect every aspect of how we live and age tomorrow. 

Products in the home will encompass everything from robotics, sensors and gadgets to 3-D printers and augmented reality - all of which eventually will be controlled by artificial intelligence.

For instance, it’s currently possible without personal staff invading your private space, for curtains to automatically open, coffee to start brewing, the bathroom floor to begin heating, all at a set time, before your feet hit the ground in the morning.  

And, the capabilities are endless – extending beyond comfort to necessity. Your walls can become computer screens, artwork, TVs and communication devices, your closet virtually trialing outfits on your hologram allows you to view them from bed, your bathroom faucet automatically dispenses into your glass of water, the proper vitamins you need for the day.  It’s not so far off that your doctor receives a text because the health monitor in your clothing notifies her that your blood pressure has been up for two days and you’ve had trouble sleeping, and the nurse calls to check in on you.

There are currently products available in flooring that can sense if someone has fallen or is just sitting on the floor.  Other technology can notify you if someone hasn’t opened the fridge to eat in the last 48 hours or if a door opened at an unusual time.  Between Lyft and Uber and the forthcoming autonomous vehicles, seniors can stay connected and active all the while keeping others on the road safe.

These technological advancements transform life for two generations - caregivers and caretakers. 

If Mom and Dad want to stay at home, but by all definitions it’s unsafe in their current environment, it’s now possible for them to retain their freedom and for you transform their existing or brand-new home with the addition of new tech advances.

This is all taking place NOW.  

The key is for the builder and designer is to make the space flexible for future needs while creating an environment that is world class.  The style, comfort of the ride, integrated technology and brand are all components in making a car desirable.  The home environment is no different – it should automatically adjust to your client’s particular size, style, preferences and needs.  This methodology is truly transformational – your home now supports and even anticipates your needs, connecting you to resources and people as you age.

 

Designing from the inside out is key to allowing the space to flow. A space should embrace your client and their specific needs both for today and tomorrow.  

 

Great interior design has always had an intimate relationship with the products that we use daily to make our lives easier.  

 

My own family consists of four generations who all live under one roof in Columbus, Ohio, and we’ve figured out to make it work: dividing responsibilities and chores, re-designing physical spaces for privacy, and reconfiguring others into common areas for all to gather and enjoy living together.

 

I call it our “multi-generational social experiment,” which encompasses kids in their teens, parents in their forties, grandparents in their seventies, and a ninety-plus year-old great-grandmother. 

My book, HIVE describes in detail how we navigate the joys and challenges that come with aging, and answers the questions, "How does family help you thrive at home when you're old?" An Alzheimer's/dementia diagnosis added a layer of complexity, yet we resolve to keep our eldest at home for as long as she's happy, safe and engaged in life. The younger generation learns much from their elders, and the elders from their children. While mastering the use of technology and new family systems, we’re also mastering the use of humor, tolerance, and patience. Ultimately, that's what makes this four-generation experiment a success. Hive provides practical design and strategies mixed with personal tips and observations, making it easy to see how you can transform a home in into a multi-generational living space. 

Just don’t forget to budget and design with all the NEW echnology available to enabling boomers to age in place.

 

###

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa M. Cini, Transformational Living designer integrates the latest technologies and tools to enable seniors to age at home while enjoying a great quality of life.

 

Lisa Cini, ASID, IIDA is an award-winning, internationally-recognized designer with more than 25 years’ experience developing interiors that improve quality of life for seniors. 

Her company, Mosaic Design Studio, is the nation’s leading provider of design services for senior living, long term care, hospitality and health care institutions. Mosaic is also active in global commercial design, project management and procurement. Mosaic has worked with clients including the National Hockey League, the U.S. Military, Coopers Hawk Winery Restaurants, PGA Tour Country Clubs and various hotels. 

Lisa is the Founder of www.BestLivingTech.com: think Sharper Image meets AARP! She searches the world for the best products to Embrace Living as we age and brings them all together in one online store. 

Her latest mission is to help baby boomers age at home, rather than in a home. Author of: 

  1. BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology, so that you can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & Thrive, 
  2. The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined, 
  3. Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living is based on her social experiment of living in a 4-generation household and the positive impact design can have in a home for seniors with dementia.

 

 

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Posted on February 8, 2018 by Jorie Helms

 

This is a loose translation from Bob Dylan’s song, but it seemed appropriate. Our industry is in the midst of changes from economic to social to political spheres

of influence. We see the reports, releases and yes, tweets, and know that change is coming.

Will we see tax reform on the national level? If we do, will the mortgage interest deduction be a thing of the past?

On the state level, will the budget compromise actually help the industry or just maintain a status quo? Will it include some services that are no longer sales tax exempt? Will we see a teacher pay raise? October was workforce development month and there was much talk about the need for more emphasis on construction trades. Will we see that change in our schools or technology centers?

Socially, we hear about millennials finally entering the housing market. One report says that once they become

homeowners they begin to act like the generations before them. Turns out they like homes in suburbs with good schools. So what does that mean for our industry?

As one writer put it, “the only thing constant in this world is change.” If change affects our industry, you know it will affect our association.

Membership models are being examined and test cases are taking place. Governance is also being examined as to what works the best. Dues and how they are paid and collected are also being examined. This last area is one we are particularly excited about.

If you haven’t already, you will soon hear about Dues Hub powered by Billhighway. This promises to be a new tool that will help with dues payments, recruitment and retention. It is a tool that will provide for online applications, payment flexibility, automated funds routing plus useful and practical data integration.

Yes, changes are coming. But this is one we can be excited about.

Until next time...

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Posted on February 7, 2018 by Jorie Helms

 

 

A team of University of Oklahoma Construction Science students traveled to Houston in September to aid in the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Twenty-two students and Ben F. Bigelow, Ph. D., Associate Professor and Director of OU’s Construction Science Division, made the trip to assist families impacted by devastating flooding.

While in Houston, the OU students assisted 10 different families with tasks from removing drywall all the way to demolishing a collapsed sunroom. The people they met and helped in Houston were ones who simply couldn’t help

Jadyn Watson-Fisher she’s thankful for the opportunity to do something meaningful for others..

“For me, it (was) about going and serving wherever needed,” Carter said. “It wasn’t the most glamorous job. It wasn’t super exciting, but it was so necessary and practical to hands-on help these people start over.”

Bigelow reached out to the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association to assist in the relief efforts.

“This was a perfect opportunity for our association to help our Texas neighbors,” said Dan Reeves, OSHBA president. “So many give to worthwhile charities like the Salvation Army themselves, Bigelow said. One was a woman bound to a wheelchair and another with severe cerebral palsy.

“While the students got a good experience using tools and seeing a bit of how a house goes together, perhaps the greatest education came from them seeing the need and poverty of so many,” Dr. Bigelow said. “For most of them, they have never been outside of the relatively prosperous suburbs they grew up in, and we worked primarily in some very poor neighborhoods.”

Architecture freshman Chanae Carter told OU journalist

and the Red Cross, but a challenge for an association is how to help in a way the touches our industry. Helping our student chapter provide relief in a learning environment was a great fit.”

Donors who made the trips possible were: Oklahoma State Home Builders Association, The Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma, Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association, Windstone Construction, Accent Glass, McClain Bank, Haworth Homes, CA McCarty Construction, Da Vinci Homes, Custom Builders of Oklahoma, Trinity Hearth & Homes, Patrick O’Dooley and Westpoint Homes.

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Posted on January 30, 2018 by Jorie Helms

 

keysIt’s all about location, location, location – with a dash or two of compromise – as millennials, the nation’s largest demographic group at 90 million strong, is poised to dominate the home buying market.

Two market researchers – who happen to be millennials themselves – offered insight into their generation in Two Millennials Tell All, an education session offered Jan. 10 during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

While generalities about this group may ring true: This generation prefers experiences over things and likes to “collect moments” rather than sets of good china place settings, there’s actually much more diversity than many people realize, said Ali Wolf, manager of housing economics for California-based Meyers Research LLC.

For one thing, 43% of millennials aren’t white, don’t solidly identify as either “traditionals” or “trailblazers” and, because they now range in age from 17 to 37, have incomes across the economic spectrum.

And as NAHB Economics own research has indicated, a surprising majority of millennials aren’t necessarily interested in urban spaces, but still want a single-family home with a yard. The challenge for home builders is to create a product that this generation wants but that can still afford as first-time buyers, the presenters said. In fact, 21 percent of millennials surveyed said they haven’t bought a home yet because they can’t afford one, period.

One solution: Understand that millennials are willing to compromise. They’ll sacrifice some space in exchange for more luxurious finishes, like quartz countertops. Good design is important to this generation.

Flexible spaces are important as well. Make sure that the dining area is large enough for a large gathering of friends and family for Thanksgiving and other special dinners, but easily converted into a workspace or studio for the rest of the year.

Three/two still rules. A home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms is the most preferred, and 1,000 square feet is the minimum. That third bedroom can be a loft area or study nook if space is at a premium, however.

Attendees with a paid full registration to IBS also get a complimentary 1-year subscription to IBS Education on Demand and can download recording and handouts to Two Millennials Tell All: Deconstructing Today’s First-Time Buyers & Their Design Preferences and other sessions. Visit BuildersShow.com/ondemand to learn more.

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Posted on January 29, 2018 by Jorie Helms

 

The construction industry is changing, and a lot of the changes construction workers and their employers are seeing today are based around advances in technology. There are a number of technological advances, with one of the biggest being the use and incorporation of drones into various aspects of the business. Since there are so many ways to use drones in construction, it's not surprising that they are starting to be used more frequently. While not all companies see the value in drone technology, more and more construction companies are bringing them on board to get more done faster and easier than ever before.

Drones Have a Number of Significant Benefits

For construction companies and their workers, there are many benefits to using drones. These small, flying, and highly maneuverable little machines can move quickly, hover in place, and get into spaces where people may not fit. They can also go into places where people may not be allowed to go, or where it may not be safe for workers to venture. Drones are not terribly expensive, and they can do some jobs that people simply cannot complete. They are also lightweight and easy to move around, so they can travel fast and help workers get more accomplished throughout their workday.

With Drones, Construction Companies Can See the Big Picture

One of the largest impacts that drones have on the construction industry is that they help companies and workers see the bigger picture. Drones can be flown right up close to a construction project, but they can also be flown high above the job site to see a larger view of what needs to be done and the issues that might arise. Watching video from a drone gives construction companies a lot of information. It's also possible to offer plenty of still pictures that the company can study in order to make a plan of action for the future of any construction project.

Cost Effectiveness Matters With Drone Technology

Drones are inexpensive for personal use, but they can be more costly when larger ones for commercial uses are bought. Still, they are often cost effective because their upfront price can be justified with how they pay for themselves over time—it's an investment like any new piece of equipment. Since they can go where people cannot, and they can also explore from high above and bring back pictures and information, they are very valuable when it comes to how they can be used by construction workers and their employers. Consider the increased safety in a workplace in which drones can scout areas before

someone needs to physically be there.

What Construction Companies Should Know About Drones

Construction companies that are considering buying and using drones should know enough about them to feel comfortable with their choices. Price is one important consideration, but it's not the only thing people in the construction industry need to know. Of course it matters, but the cost of the drones should be examined in light of what they can offer, so the actual value can be better understood. It's more than just price, when considering how much construction companies get back from the money they spend. Other things to consider with drones in the construction industry are how many drones are needed for any company, where they should be used, and how best to use them wisely. Companies also need to focus on where the drones come from, how they will be maintained, and what happens if one or more of them become damaged. Taking care of the drones and keeping them moving matters, just as much as getting and using them in the first place. Construction companies that are prepared for changes in their industry, technological advances, and the value drones can bring to their work can use these drones to their fullest advantage.

Dylan Snyder is a team leader and real estate consultant at The Snyder Group - Keller Williams Realty Luxury Homes. His business is augmented by his high-caliber team of seasoned buyer specialists and a dedicated marketing department. 

 

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Posted on January 11, 2018 by Jorie Helms

OSHBA Note: NAHB Chairman Randy Noel will be a special guest at the 2018 Installation Banquet

Randy Noel

Randy Noel

NAHB members elected four senior officers to the Federation’s top leadership positions during the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla.

With more than 700 affiliated state and local home builders associations and more than 140,000 members across the country, NAHB represents the interests of the nation’s housing professionals through advocacy, education and research.

Taking the helm as NAHB Chair is Randy Noel, a Louisiana-based custom home builder with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. Noel is president of Reve Inc., a custom home building firm that has developed more than 1,000 custom homes in the greater New Orleans area.

“We will work this year to keep the housing recovery on track and to reduce burdensome regulations that harm housing affordability and inhibit job creation,” said Noel. “We will also urge Congress and the White House to ensure that housing remains a national priority and to promote policies that will provide affordable rental housing and homeownership opportunities for hard-working American families.”

Also moving up on the association’s leadership ladder was Greg Ugalde, a Connecticut builder and developer with more than 25 years of experience in the home building industry. He was elected First Vice Chairman of the Board. Ugalde is president and chief legal officer of Torrington-based T&M Building Co., Inc., one of the largest home builders in the state. Since its founding in 1962, T&M has built more than 3,500 new homes in over 40 Connecticut communities.

Dean Mon, a New Jersey-based builder and developer with more than 30 years of experience in the industry, was elected as Second Vice Chairman of the Board. He is president of the D.R. Mon Group Inc., which specializes in the development and construction of classic urban living projects throughout New Jersey. Since 1985, the company has created communities throughout Morris, Hunterdon, Union, Hudson and Monmouth counties.

John “Chuck” Fowke joined the NAHB leadership ladder with his election as Third Vice Chairman of the Board. A Tampa, Fla.-based custom home builder with 40 years of experience, Fowke is owner and president of Homes by John C. Fowke Inc. His company has created hundreds of homes in many neighborhoods in and around the Tampa Bay area.

2017 NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, from Kerrville, Texas, remains on the leadership ladder as Immediate Past Chairman. MacDonald is chairman and CEO of the MacDonald Companies, a diverse development, construction, and property management enterprise with nearly 50 neighborhoods completed and managed throughout Texas.

Rounding out the association’s leadership is NAHB CEO Jerry Howard, from Washington, D.C. Howard heads up a professional staff of more than 240 working out of the National Housing Center in Washington. He has served as the association’s CEO/EVP since February 2001. Previously, Howard was NAHB’s chief tax counsel.

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Posted on January 10, 2018 by Jorie Helms

 

 

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Posted on December 19, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

starsBuilder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes increased five points to 74 in December on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) after a downwardly revised November reading. This was the highest report since July 1999, over 18 years ago.

“Housing market conditions are improving partially because of new policies aimed at providing regulatory relief to the business community,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.

“The HMI measure of home buyer traffic rose eight points, showing that demand for housing is on the rise,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “With low unemployment rates, favorable demographics and a tight supply of existing home inventory, we can expect continued upward movement of the single-family construction sector next year.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.”

The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components registered gains in December. The component measuring buyer traffic jumped eight points to 58, the index gauging current sales conditions rose four points to 81 and the index charting sales expectations in the next six months increased three points to 79.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Midwest climbed six points to 69, the South rose three points to 72, the West increased two points to 79 and Northeast inched up a single point to 54.

HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

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Posted on December 7, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

global businessCompanies based outside of the United States, as well as American companies doing business internationally — or beginning to think about it — can speak to seasoned professionals with valuable advice at the NAHB International Builders’ Show this January.

The International Central at the 2018 IBS will be buzzing with trends encompassing the varied and diverse global home building industry.

During the show, Central attendees can learn about the latest modular and panelized building systems opportunities, attend sessions taught by officials from the Department of Commerce as well as international representatives on home building opportunities in South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire.

They’ll also explore top global technology trends and global design dos and don’ts for 2018: Each day will provide different networking and educational opportunities.

Attendees do not need to be NAHB Global members, though the Central provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about how becoming a member can be very beneficial to their businesses.

International Central is located at West Concourse, Level 1, Hall A Lobby (by IBS Registration). See the full schedule and learn more.

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Posted on December 7, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

 

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Posted on December 1, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

Whether it’s addressing your HBA at events or meetings or answering reporters’ questions, as an NAHB member, you’ve probably had to speak on occasion before your peers, media or the public.

And you might have hated every minute of it.

We hear you. Become a better public speaker, give solid media interviews and craft strong overall messaging for your local with NAHB Education’s IBS pre-show courses at the Hyatt Regency Orlando:

In today’s business world, meetings and news interviews can develop quickly and be posted instantaneously. Spokesperson Training Part I will help you master strategies for developing key messages and delivering them effectively for various platforms, from print to social media to business meetings. The training includes instruction, skill-building exercises and on-camera practice interviews.

Spokesperson Training Part II focuses on presentation skills, providing approaches to organizing and delivering a successful speech or presentation to various audiences. Understand how to analyze your audience, use visual aids, explore body language and more. The training includes instruction, skill-building exercises and on-camera practice interviews.

You can take one or both of these courses — there is no prerequisite. Register today.

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Posted on November 30, 2017 by Jorie Helms

Even the massive Orange County Convention Center in Orlando isn’t quite big enough to house all of the exhibits of the NAHB International Builders’ Show.

That’s why each year during IBS, a large portion of the convention center’s parking lot is consumed by Professional Builder’s Show Village — a small community of life-size homes, each displaying many of the latest building products and techniques.

Professional Builder partners with several home builders, designers and product manufacturers to create the neighborhood, which is erected almost literally overnight using modular construction. Professional Builder’s Show Village will feature three homes, all uniquely designed to deliver efficient use of space and energy, maximizing the indoor and outdoor living areas:

  • Rendering of the LaBelle.

    The LaBelle (built by Palm Harbor Homes of Plant City, Fla.) is a transitional 2,655-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two baths. It will feature a pass-through window from the kitchen to the family room, and a multi-slide door that integrates the screened-in porch, fireplace and outdoor kitchen.

  • Rendering of the Atrium.

    The Atrium (also by Palm Harbor Homes) is a small-footprint home — at 1,233 square feet — that is big on amenities. Its urban elements will give it a loft-like feel, incorporating multi-slide doors on the front and back of the home to expand entertaining areas. Its master bedroom suite incorporates a whirlpool and freestanding tub.

  • Rendering of the Modern.

    The Modern (by Nationwide Custom Homes) is a 1,803-square-foot home with one wing devoted to the master bedroom suite with a wardrobe gallery and floating wall. The other wing will feature two bedrooms with a shared bath. The multi-slide door off the great room leads to a massive deck that spans the entire width of the home.

Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the homes and evaluate for themselves all of the innovative products featured within. There will also be nightly block parties for networking and relaxing. For more information, visit buildersshow.com.

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Posted on November 27, 2017 by Jorie Helms

Sales of newly built, single-family homes in October rose 6.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units from a downwardly revised September reading, according to newly released data from HUD Census Bureau. This is the highest sales pace since October 2007. Year-to-date, new home sales are 8.9% above their level over the same period last year.

“The October report shows strong sales growth at entry-level price points,” said NAHB chairman Granger MacDonald. “In markets where builders are able to provide homes for families with different household budgets, they can fulfill a growing demand for housing.”

“There is solid growth in the number of sales contracts signed before construction has begun, a strong indicator that new single-family home production should continue to grow as we look ahead to 2018,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

The inventory of new homes for sale was 282,000 in October, which is a 4.9-month supply at the current sales pace.

New home sales increased in all four regions. Sales rose 30.2% in the Northeast, 17.9% in the Midwest, 6.4% in the West and 1.3% in the South.

http://nahbnow.com/2017/11/new-home-sales-rate-reaches-10-year-high-in-october/

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Posted on November 17, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

home with magnifying glassBuilder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose two points to a level of 70 in November on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This was the highest report since March, and the second highest on record since July 2005.

“November’s builder confidence reading is close to a post-recession high — a strong indicator that the housing market continues to grow steadily,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald. “However, our members still face supply-side constraints, such as lot and labor shortages and ongoing building material price increases.”

“Demand for housing is increasing at a consistent pace, driven by job and economic growth, rising homeownership rates and limited housing inventory,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “With these economic fundamentals in place, we should see continued upward movement of the single-family housing market as we close out 2017.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.”

Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Two out of the three HMI components registered gains in November. The component gauging current sales conditions rose two points to 77 and the index measuring buyer traffic increased two points to 50. Meanwhile, the index charting sales expectations in the next six months dropped a single point to 77.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast jumped five points to 54 and the South rose one point to 69. Both the West and Midwest remained unchanged at 77 and 63, respectively.

HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.

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Posted on November 17, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

The majority of NAHB members are small businesses and NAHB is proud to support Small Business Saturday® on Nov 25. This annual event provides an opportunity to recognize the importance of small businesses and their vital contributions to local communities.

The housing industry in particular helps build a strong economy and vibrant communities, contributing 15% to the GDP. Constructing 100 new single-family homes creates 297 full-time jobs, $28 million in wage and business income and $11.1 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.

Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 to help strengthen local economies. Today, it’s a holiday shopping tradition celebrating a greater nationwide movement dedicated to uniting communities and supporting all kinds of small businesses.

NAHB is encouraging its members to also join this nationwide initiative that encourages the public to shop at small businesses, particularly on Saturday Nov. 25, and throughout the holiday shopping season.

Go to ShopSmall.com/YourDay to access free marketing materials to promote your small business.

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Posted on November 13, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

perigola

The Today’s Homeowner crew films the progress of construction of a pleasant outdoor living space for Manna House.

Blogger and video personality Danny Lipford joined volunteers from the HBA of Greater Tulsa Remodelers Council and the HBA’s charitable foundation for a community service project that he plans to feature in a December episode.

The Today’s Homeowner cast and crew is partnering with the Oklahoma volunteers to create an inviting outdoor living area at Manna House, a residence that assists young women transitioning from foster care to adulthood.

The work is attracting the attention of local media, as Good Day Tulsa filmed the work for one segment and Tulsa World featured a story as well.

All of the projects, how-to steps, spirit of service and the big reveal will be documented and captured for the Today’s Homeowner special episode.

In late October, the volunteers met at the Manna House to begin work on new outdoor living amenities for the home.

Crew members and the cast of the show filmed the community service project, funded by the HBA’s Charitable Foundation, as part of the Today’s Homeowner 20th season tour.

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Posted on November 10, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

HBA bookLooking for a low-cost, high impact way to celebrate your HBA’s role in your community during the year-long commemoration of NAHB’s 75th anniversary?

Think about compiling a history of your HBA or partnering with a business or local history group to develop a detailed timeline of growth and development in your community.

The HBA of Greater Cincinnati did just that last year with the publication of “Homeward Bound: A Short Story of the Long History of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati.”

Written by HBA EO Dan Dressman, the book documents the HBA’s history from its inception in 1934 to the present and details its important role in helping to shape the Greater Cincinnati region.

“I wanted to write this book primarily because no one had ever captured the interesting history of our association,” Dressman said.

The HBA of Greater Cincinnati was founded in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It also helped combat the local housing shortage after World War II.

“We have had a lot of brushes with history over the years,” he said.

Dressman said that having meeting minutes from as far back as 1934 helped him a lot in his research. But don’t despair if you can’t locate your HBA’s earliest records. There are plenty of alternatives.

Members are the best place to start when compiling a history, especially those who have been a part of the HBA for many years. Getting a small group of long-time members together to reminisce is sure to provide a good launching point.

You should also consider enlisting the assistance of members who are avid amateur historians or who pursue their family history. Detectives at heart, they will thrill to the hunt. And they already know the best places to dig for details.

Lacking expert involvement, where’s the best place to start? You guessed it. Not just a repository for countless cat videos and accounts of alien abductions, the Internet has a vast store of free or low-cost resources.

Begin with a simple search for your HBA. You may be surprised at what you find.

Archive.org is a great free resource providing digital access to millions of texts and hundreds of thousands of video and audio files.

house

The NAHB Experimental House

Just a quick search turned up:

And check your own files: A few years ago, NAHB’s digital archive turned up information about the London House, which was constructed at the 1960 Ideal Home Exhibition in London by NAHB to showcase U.S. home design and technology.

Old newspaper issues are increasingly available online. Here’s a tip: Many public libraries provide free access to subscription services like newspapers.com and/or local newspapers’ digital archives. You may even be able to access them remotely using your library card/account.

Additional resources, suggestions and tips:

Many states and cities as well as local and state historic associations maintain online archives.

Don’t focus exclusively on digital and online resources; only a small fraction of all potentially relevant resources have been digitized.

Expect the unexpected. A good history tells the whys and wherefores, zooms in on the details that provide texture, context and relevance, and may even unearth some figurative skeletons along the way.

Be sure to share your project with NAHB. Contact Camilo Cuba to learn more.

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Posted on November 7, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

Pneumatic nailers, more commonly referred to as nail guns, have certainly made work more efficient, but their speed and power has led to serious injuries on the job.

Nail guns are a leading cause of injury for carpenters and responsible for an estimated 25,000 work-related emergency room visits each year.

This video describes some critical dos and don’ts of nail gun use and is available in English and Spanish. You can share it and the accompanying handout at your next worksite safety meeting.

Nail Guns: How Do Injuries Happen?

  • Unintended nail discharge from double fire
  • Unintended nail discharge from knocking the safety contact with the trigger squeezed
  • Nail penetration through lumber work piece
  • Nail ricochet after striking a hard surface, metal feature or wood knot
  • Bypassing safety mechanisms

To view other Video Toolbox Talks and download the printable handouts, visit nahb.org/toolboxtalks. All are available in English and Spanish. Be on the lookout for more safety videos coming soon.

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Posted on November 3, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

webinarThanks to changes that NAHB championed in the 2018 International Residential and Energy Efficiency Code, many home builders are now able bury their ductwork within the attic insulation — a potential savings of as much as $4,000 per home when compared to the cost of conditioning the entire attic.

What’s the best way to do this, and how can builders take advantage of this practice and produce an energy-efficient home at a lower cost? The Department of Energy is offering a free webinar Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. ET that explains the process.

Craig Drumheller, NAHB’s director of codes and standards, will be the speaker. Drumheller worked with NAHB codes staff and committee volunteers to introduce the buried duct proposal during the 2018 codes approval process.

Register today, and you may be able to save money on your next project.

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Posted on October 31, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

Instructor helps a student participating in a woodworking manufacturing training program in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg Charlie Negron

Throughout most of U.S. history, American high school students were routinely taught vocational and job-ready skills along with the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. Indeed readers of a certain age are likely to have fond memories of huddling over wooden workbenches learning a craft such as woodwork or maybe metal work, or any one of the hands-on projects that characterized the once-ubiquitous shop class.

But in the 1950s, a different philosophy emerged: the theory that students should follow separate educational tracks according to ability. The idea was that the college-bound would take traditional academic courses (Latin, creative writing, science, math) and received no vocational training. Those students not headed for college would take basic academic courses, along with vocational training, or “shop.”

Ability tracking did not sit well with educators or parents, who believed students were assigned to tracks not by aptitude, but by socio-economic status and race. The result being that by the end of the 1950s, what was once a perfectly respectable, even mainstream educational path came to be viewed as a remedial track that restricted minority and working-class students.

The backlash against tracking, however, did not bring vocational education back to the academic core. Instead, the focus shifted to preparing all students for college, and college prep is still the center of the U.S. high school curriculum.

So what’s the harm in prepping kids for college? Won’t all students benefit from a high-level, four-year academic degree program? As it turns out, not really. For one thing, people have a huge and diverse range of different skills and learning styles. Not everyone is good at math, biology, history and other traditional subjects that characterize college-level work. Not everyone is fascinated by Greek mythology, or enamored with Victorian literature, or enraptured by classical music. Some students are mechanical; others are artistic. Some focus best in a lecture hall or classroom; still others learn best by doing, and would thrive in the studio, workshop or shop floor.

And not everyone goes to college. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that about 68% of high school students attend college. That means over 30% graduate with neither academic nor job skills.

But even the 68% aren’t doing so well. Almost 40% of students who begin four-year college programs don’t complete them, which translates into a whole lot of wasted time, wasted money, and burdensome student loan debt. Of those who do finish college, one-third or more will end up in jobs they could have had without a four-year degree. The BLS found that 37% of currently employed college grads are doing work for which only a high school degree is required.

It is true that earnings studies show college graduates earn more over a lifetime than high school graduates. However, these studies have some weaknesses. For example, over 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or under-employed. And income for college graduates varies widely by major – philosophy graduates don’t nearly earn what business studies graduates do. Finally, earnings studies compare college graduates to all high school graduates. But the subset of high school students who graduate with vocational training – those who go into well-paying, skilled jobs – the picture for non-college graduates looks much rosier.

Yet despite the growing evidence that four-year college programs serve fewer and fewer of our students, states continue to cut vocational programs. In 2013, for example, the Los Angeles Unified School District, with more than 600,000 students, made plans to cut almost all of its CTE programs by the end of the year. The justification, of course, is budgetary; these programs (which include auto body technology, aviation maintenance, audio production, real estate and photography) are expensive to operate. But in a situation where 70% of high school students do not go to college, nearly half of those who do go fail to graduate, and over half of the graduates are unemployed or underemployed, is vocational education really expendable? Or is it the smartest investment we could make in our children, our businesses, and our country’s economic future?

The U.S. economy has changed. The manufacturing sector is growing and modernizing, creating a wealth of challenging, well-paying, highly skilled jobs for those with the skills to do them. The demise of vocational education at the high school level has bred a skills shortage in manufacturing today, and with it a wealth of career opportunities for both under-employed college grads and high school students looking for direct pathways to interesting, lucrative careers. Many of the jobs in manufacturing are attainable through apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and vocational programs offered at community colleges. They don’t require expensive, four-year degrees for which many students are not suited.

And contrary to what many parents believe, students who get job specific skills in high school and choose vocational careers often go on to get additional education. The modern workplace favors those with solid, transferable skills who are open to continued learning. Most young people today will have many jobs over the course of their lifetime, and a good number will have multiple careers that require new and more sophisticated skills.

Just a few decades ago, our public education system provided ample opportunities for young people to learn about careers in manufacturing and other vocational trades. Yet, today, high-schoolers hear barely a whisper about the many doors that the vocational education path can open. The “college-for-everyone” mentality has pushed awareness of other possible career paths to the margins. The cost to the individuals and the economy as a whole is high. If we want everyone’s kid to succeed, we need to bring vocational education back to the core of high school learning.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicholaswyman/2015/09/01/why-we-desperately-need-to-bring-back-vocational-training-in-schools/#6b2418c87add

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Posted on October 30, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

signThe nature of work and the relationship between employees and their jobs have changed. It’s not just millennials: Multiple studies have shown that workers of all ages care deeply about meaningful work, with most citing purpose as more important than income to their work and career satisfaction.

The construction industry is uniquely poised to allow workers to engage with critical issues such as environmental protection, affordable housing and poverty alleviation, and home builders, remodelers and the trades are able to make a significant impact on the causes they care most about.

As you recruit new team members, let them know how home building makes a difference.

Create Affordable Housing

High demand and limited supply have contributed to a lack of affordable housing, but there is good news: With improvements in technology, companies are working to drastically cut costs for building processes and materials, which translate to lower selling costs, making home ownership a real possibility for millions more Americans. For workers with an interest in technology, innovation and addressing the nationwide affordable housing crisis, construction careers could be a perfect fit.

Aid in Disaster Recovery

Recent hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters have devastated areas like Houston, Puerto Rico, Northern California, and Florida, destroying thousands of homes. These areas need workers who can help rebuild communities from the ground up, with a focus on strong, safe structures that help prevent such devastation in the future. Construction careers in disaster recovery are focused on serving desperate populations and providing tangible assistance to get people back into their homes, jobs, and schools quickly and safely. Now more than ever, the construction industry needs skilled workers to fill pressing needs.

Improve Low-Income Communities

In low-income areas, residents are plagued with a multitude of issues that often leave them stuck in a cycle of poverty. Houses and businesses suffer from outdated energy systems that are expensive to maintain, and safety hazards like asbestos and mold are rampant. The home building industry serves these communities by renovating buildings to improve safety conditions and implement cost-efficient energy upgrades, and building more affordable homes as they can also create jobs and provide training for workers within these communities.

Protect the Environment

Green design and construction is dedicated to using sustainable materials and practices, and recent technological advances have made renewable energy more affordable and accessible, reducing long-term costs and conserving precious natural resources. For workers with a passion for environmental preservation, construction careers provide an opportunity to work on sustainable projects that improve communities while protecting the environment for this and future generations.

Support Local and Global Initiatives

While finding purpose in work is undoubtedly a crucial component of being an engaged, satisfied employee, construction careers have the added bonus of providing healthy paychecks and plenty of room for career advancement.

NAHB’s Careers in the Construction Trades page shows that workers can earn average annual salaries well into the upper $40k and 50k mark with strong room for industry growth into the coming decade. Even for employees who are focused primarily on purpose, these paychecks matter: They can provide workers with the financial freedom to pursue their passions, whether that means donating to local or global charities, traveling the world to broaden their horizons or do mission work, or investing in research and development of technologies to improve the world.

Recruit Skilled, Passionate Workers

In collaboration with ConstructionJobs.com, NAHB offers this recruitment tool to all NAHB members in their search for new employees. NAHB members enjoy a 20% discount off standard rates for job posting. Find all of NAHB’s Member Advantage program discounts at nahb.org/ma.

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Posted on October 27, 2017 by Jorie Helms

Mike Rowe, skilled trades advocate and former host of the television show Dirty Jobs, speaks about the importance of skilled trades in Iowa in Des Moines Sept. 28.

An Evening to Bring the Significance Back to the Trades highlighted the growing demand for skilled workers in Iowa, such as electricians, linemen and carpenters. Held at the Iowa Events Center, the event attracted more than 1,600 attendees and was organized by the HBA of Iowa, local HBAs and supporting organizations.

The event aligned perfectly with October’s Careers in Construction Month and the pressing need in Iowa and nationally for skilled labor in the home building trades, including inspiring a pathway for students and beyond to see the value of residential construction careers.

Speakers included television’s Mike Rowe and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R).

NAHB has been tracking the skilled labor shortage and promoting the importance, value and rewards of working in the skilled trades, particularly this month in articles and outreach to HBAs with resources including this resource on nahb.org detailing the median salaries of each trade and job openings nationally.

Mike Rowe (center, top row) poses with Iowa members during the state’s skilled trades event.

Public Appeal, Educator Focus

The well-attended event represented a concerted effort of industry leaders to connect with teachers and counselors, who in turn can encourage students to explore the trades as a career path. More than 400 educators and students were in attendance. The first 200 to register attended for free.

“Our goal was to have an event where educators and students were immersed in the opportunities our industry can provide for them either as an alternative to or in addition to college or trade schools,” said HBA of Des Moines EO Dan Knoup.

“We were able to create an environment that focused on what’s in the best interest of the industry and of the students. We are working to change a generations’ old narrative about who we are and what we do, and this night was huge step in that direction.”

“This is not a union or non-union issue,” Knoup told the Des Moines Register. “It’s not a bridge-builder or home-builder or commercial-contractor issue. We all need people to roll-up their sleeves and learn a trade.”

Tickets were $150 per seat or $1,200 for 10 seats at a 12-person table, and two seats at each table were donated to educators or students. Proceeds from the event supported both the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation and the Iowa Skilled Trades Academy, which provides pre-apprenticeship skills and training in fields specific to home building.

Getting the Word Out

The HBA of Des Moines, the HBA of Iowa and several partnering organizations did an excellent job reaching out to area newspapers and industry media to raise the prominence of the need for skilled trades and how they are both important and rewarding jobs.

Learn more about the event at iowaskilledtrades.com.

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Posted on October 19, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

NAHB has been a long-time proponent of association health plans, which would empower small businesses to pool together to purchase health insurance plans for their employees.

Now that President Trump has signed an executive order that would ease restrictions on association health plans, what’s the next step to make this a reality for local HBAs across the land?

While we are very excited by Trump’s actions in signing the executive order on association health plans, there are still a lot of unanswered questions moving forward. Though the general intent is clear, the executive order itself does not change existing law. Rather, it directs federal agencies to determine the extent of the regulatory actions they can pursue to meet the President’s health care directives.

Those actions are likely limited compared to legislative steps like NAHB-supported bills passed by the House and pending in the Senate that could make more substantive and permanent changes to the law to expand the ability of businesses to form association health plans.

The executive order directs the Department of Labor to consider proposing regulations or guidance on association health plans within 60 days. As a result, it will be weeks if not months before we see a proposal take shape. NAHB will have a better idea of how plans would need to be structured and how state insurance regulators will respond once that becomes available.

Additionally, it is likely that there will be legal challenges mounted that could further slow the process as implementation starts to take shape.

NAHB remains engaged with Congress and the White House on this matter and will continue to monitor the executive order’s implementation and quickly determine what our best opportunities – and those of our affiliated HBAs – may be.

NAHB Senior Officers have already begun discussions to make sure the association stays on top of the issue and is positioned in the best possible way moving forward.

For more information, contact Alexis Moch at 800-368-5242 x8407.

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Posted on October 18, 2017 by Jorie Helms

October Presidents Report from the 2017 OK Building Summit and Expo

 

 

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Posted on October 13, 2017 by Jorie Helms
 

President Trump shakes hands with NAHB First Vice Chair Randy Noel after signing the executive order.

President Trump today signed an executive order that would ease restrictions on association health plans and health reimbursement accounts to create more options for small businesses to provide health benefits to their employees.

NAHB has long led the fight in support of association health plans, which would grant small businesses access to better and more affordable health care plans, allow them to negotiate lower costs for coverage, and level the playing field for smaller firms that want to help their workers and their families with their health care needs.

Attending the White House signing ceremony, NAHB First Vice Chairman Randy Noel said the president’s executive order “would empower home building firms such as my own and countless other small businesses to pool together through association health plans to purchase health insurance. This would put small businesses on an equal footing with large employers and unions when it comes to negotiating lower insurance rates.”

Moreover, the executive order would expand the use of health reimbursement arrangements, which allow small businesses to offer pre-tax dollars to insured employees to help pay premiums and/or other out-of-pocket costs associated with medical care and services.

The IRS issued guidance in 2013 prohibiting the use of health reimbursement arrangements and NAHB led the charge to pass legislation in 2016 that would not only reinstate their use, but also abolish punitive IRS penalties associated with them.

While the president’s executive order is an important step forward to address the issue of health care affordability for America’s employers, much more needs to be done to make the expansion of association health plans a reality.

It is still unclear what actions federal agencies will take to implement the changes outlined in the executive order and how states will respond to the presidential directive.

With small employers struggling to find affordable health care in the marketplace, NAHB will continue to work with the White House, Congress, and state and federal regulators to ensure the president’s executive order can be enacted across the nation.

For more information, contact Alexis Moch at 800-368-5242 x8407.

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Posted on October 11, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

HBA members raised more than $77,000 for this Tulsa nonprofit.

The HBA of Greater Tulsa, Okla., Remodelers Council and the HBA Charitable Foundation has presented Family & Children’s Services, a leading provider of behavior health care and family services for that city, a check for $77,853.

The money was raised at the annual Evening of Giving Gala held by the HBA Charitable Foundation and was the second year of a pledge to help replace the roof on the Family & Children’s Services Sarah and John Graves Building. It will be matched with a $45,000 grant from Morningcrest Healthcare Foundation to complete the roof project.

The Evening of Giving Gala doubled its fundraising goal in 2017, raising over $170,000 for both Family & Children’s Services and the HBA Charitable Foundation. The event was the most successful in HBA history, raising over $100,000 more than the previous year.

“We were so honored to partner with Family & Children’s Services to help provide support and financial resources to such a worthy organization,” said gala chairs Jerry and Tana VanCleave.

The Sarah and John Graves Mental Health Center sees over 600 people per day. Staff members work with hurting and abused children, strengthen families, and help provide hope and a path to recovery for those battling mental illness and addiction. It offers 50 programs in mental health, substance abuse, and child and family services serving people of all ages providing care regardless of ability to pay.

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Posted on October 10, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

What are your business’ unique qualities? How do you make your business stand out from the competition? What steps can you take to get your audience’s attention and boost sales?

Learn these answers and more on Wednesday, Oct. 25, from 2-3 p.m. ET during the webinar Dare to Be Different, Increase Your Sales!

Speaker Brian Flook, MIRM, of Power Marketing, LLC, and Coldwell Banker Innovations will explore why just being better than the next guy isn’t a powerful way to differentiate your homes or your business.

Participants in this webinar will also:

  • Explore how to powerfully articulate your uniqueness to get your message across
  • Recognize how you can polarize your audience by being different in the way they want you to be
  • Identify your audience’s rebel tendencies to ensure that a sales proposition sticks

Register now.

For questions about registration, please email Sheila Coble or call 800-368-5242 x8057.

This webinar is worth 1.0 hour of continuing education credits for the following 12 designations: CAPS, CGA, CGB, CGP, CGR, CMP, CSP, GMB, GMR, Master CGP, Master CSP, MIRM.

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Posted on October 6, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

The latest issue of NAHB’s Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine is now available. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Carol Morgan​, MIRM, founder and president of Denim Marketing​, discusses how to create content that prospective customers, partners, influencers and “raving fans” want to share in “Creating Sharable Content.”
  • In “Place is What We Make it Mean,” Steven Donaldson, a brand strategist for RadiantBrands​ in Berkeley, Calif., shares three examples of places that were created from opportunity or marketing magic (or a little bit of both).
  • In “Inside Out,” Mollie Elkman of Group Two, and Kerry A. Mulcrone​, MIRM, of Kerry & Co., present four elements that will help your sales and marketing team communicate your company’s messaging in a genuine way.
  • Power Marketing’s Brian Flook ​contributes a great Tech Zone (powered by Samsung U.S.​) about the metrics builders need to know, and Robert August​ answers a reader question in “Ask a MIRM.”

These topics and much more can all be found in the Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine app. If you don’t have the app yet, download it for free from the iTunes app store (Apple) or the Google Play store (Android).

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Posted on October 5, 2017 by Jorie Helms

Albert "Kell" Kelly from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with OSHBA President Dan Reeves from Landmark Fine Homes

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Posted on September 14, 2017 by Jorie Helms

 

The 55+ housing industry is quickly evolving. Buyers have unlimited resources for research, competition is exploding and the traditional model of massive active adult communities is giving way to those who want to do more — with less.

The webinar 18 Trends for 55+ Housing in 2018 will explore ways to make your properties stand out and increase sales momentum. Join NAHB on Wednesday, Oct. 4, from 2-3 p.m. ET as we discuss topics such as:

  • Major trends for the 55+ housing market
  • Desired floorplans and amenities that best fit the needs of 55+ buyers
  • Strategies for boosting your 2018 sales

Don’t miss this chance to better understand trends that can grow your business — register today.

This webinar will be presented by Deryl Patterson of Housing Design Matters and John Rymer of Rymer Strategies.

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