Wednesday, February 27, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/27/13


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/27/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • New home sales rebounded by 16% in January from December, up by 28.9% since January 2012
  • S&P/Case-Shiller Indices show strong annual gains for 2012 while December figures rebounded into positive territory
  • FHFA House Price Index rose by 1.4% during 4Q 2012, up by 5.5% year-over-year
  • Consumer confidence rebounds in February as impact from higher payroll taxes abates
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Monday, February 25, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/25/13

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/25/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Producer Price Index rises by 0.2% in January; overall inflation remains subdued
  • CPI unchanged in January as inflation remains low, rising by just 1.6% over previous 12 months
  • Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook Survey dips for second consecutive month, but future activity indicators rise
  • Mortgage applications dip for both new purchases and refinances as rates edge higher
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Friday, February 22, 2013

February column for Builder & Developer magazine now online

My column for the February issue of Builder & Developer magazine is now posted online.

For this issue, entitled "The New Qualified Mortgage Rules," I wanted to cover how the new mortgage rules could impact the building industry, especially for those builders with in-house or related mortgage, title and escrow operations.  An excerpt:
About 20 years ago, it was fairly common for home builders to have close relationships with outside mortgage lenders. This was done for two reasons: to streamline the financing process for their buyers and to bolster their competitive position by offering various incentives for using these affiliated lenders. Throughout the 1990s, most large builders figured out that bringing these operations under the corporate umbrella — including in-house title and escrow services — could make the process even more efficient, while also adding more revenue streams to the bottom line. 

However, with the latest rules released by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (created in July 2011 as part of the Dodd- Frank Act), the existence of these in-house affiliates are now in jeopardy. In the original Dodd-Frank Act, the total sum of fees and points that lenders could charge consumers was capped at 3 percent of the loan amount. What the latest rules make clear is that this 3 percent will also include services such as title insurance, settlement costs, inspections, and escrow services when the provider is owned by the lender or part of the same corporate umbrella. These new rules are expected to take effect in early 2014. 
To read the entire column, click here.


To read the entire February 2013 issue in digital format, click here.

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/22/13


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/22/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • January housing starts dip by 8.5% from December but still 23.6% above January 2012
  • January building permits up by 1.8% from December and 35.2% since January 2012
  • Both existing home sales and prices rose in January while inventory dipped to just 4.2 months
  • Leading Economic Index rose by 0.2% in January due to sound but sluggish economy
  • Initial unemployment claims rose by 20,000 in latest report; 4-week moving average rose by 8,000
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
 
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/20/13

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/20/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Builder confidence remains mostly unchanged in February
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Monday, February 18, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/18/13

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/18/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Consumer confidence rises to three-month high
  • Industrial production slips in January due to weaker manufacturing output
  • Mortgage applications fall by 6.4% in latest survey; purchase loans dip by 10%
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Promoting New Over Used Homes

Without a doubt, the energy at this year’s International Builders Show in Las Vegas was characterized by an optimism missing in recent years.  At the same time, however, there was also a distinctive undercurrent that as the housing market foundered over the last half-decade, the world of communications and technology continued to evolve and transform many of its own major players.

What this means to the industry is that as the potential demand for new homes improves, not only will marketers have to become even more expert at digital initiatives such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, but re-engage homebuyers to convince them of the benefits of new over existing homes.

According to Builder Homesite, Inc. (BHI) – the Texas-based consultancy and collection of Web sites owned by a consortium of 32 builders – while 19% of potential homebuyers prefer a new home and another 35% are somewhat agnostic to either new or used homes, just 7% of homes now sold nationally are new homes, or about half their historical average.

In the aggregate, market share certainly adds up, with each percentage point adding up to $8 billion in annual revenue.  BHI contends that if builders could capture two-thirds of those buyers who prefer new homes and one-third of the ‘agnostics,’ market share could more than triple to 25%.

While many builders would lay the blame of today’s relatively poor capture rate on a weak economy, high unemployment and tighter lending standards, BHI’s Tim Costello would argue that the primary problem is actually how most builders market their products.  To make his point during a brief presentation in Las Vegas, he showed a series of actual billboard and display ads that focused only on price or payment while ignoring those features which make new homes preferable to existing ones, such as lower energy costs, better floor plans, quality of construction and a warranty.

To address this issue, BHI is preparing a series of sample marketing materials in collaboration with GSD&M Advertising and public relations firm Edelman – at no cost -- which can be customized for a builder based on specific market needs.  Like the “Got Milk?” ads which became part of popular culture starting in the early 1990s, the idea for this three-year campaign is to reinvest in the entire industry in order to drive new sales for all builders.

By changing the nomenclature from “resale” to “used home,” the campaign also hopes to plant the preference for a new home in a consumer’s mind today even through a ‘trigger event’ such as getting married, a new child or a relocation may be years off.  Then, when the fateful day comes, the fact that a used home can force compromises on unsuspecting buyers such as inflexible designs, higher energy costs or unexpected repair and maintenance bills may be foremost in their minds.

For BHI, this is a brilliant marketing strategy for its own suite of marketing services by leveraging its unique niche in the marketplace, its comprehensive industry connections and 13 years of experience.  As the market continues to improve, I’m sure that BHI expects smaller and up-and-coming builders to turn to them for many of their marketing needs as opposed to beefing up internal operations or hiring local advertising and public relations advisors.  Of course, whether or not that’s a game changer for the industry itself remains to be seen.

BHI also plans to dramatically increase outreach to Realtors, who generally don’t show new homes to clients for two reasons: (1) new homes usually aren’t listed on local multiple listing services (or when they are don’t feature information on the overall community or amenities); and (2) builders have not been consistent on how they treat leads from resale agents, especially those catering to buyers.  I’ve long argued that when certain builders only offer commission splits to outside agents when times are bad and ignore them when sales are booming, that only serves to damage any long-term relationships; agents feel used, and who could blame them?

Moreover, many builders do little if anything to encourage agents to continue showing their product to new clients.  When I worked for a builder with operations in Arizona – a market in which outside agents were a key factor in driving sales – I came up with a loyalty program in which the ‘prizes’ got increasingly generous with each new sale.  By actively and consistently partnering with the resale community, builders could thus encourage outside agents to also start promoting the benefits of new over used homes.

Friday, February 15, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/15/13


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/15/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • January retail sales rise by 0.1% from December and by 4.4% from January 2012
  • Prices for both U.S. exports and imports rise in January after two months of declines
  • Business inventories edged up in December form November, up by 3.6% from December 2011
  • Initial unemployment claims fall by 27,000 in latest report
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/13/13

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/13/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Home prices in 4Q2012 rose at fastest year-over-year pace in seven years
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Monday, February 11, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/11/13

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/11/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in December
  • Wholesale trade in December flat from November but still up by 3.7% from December 2011
  • Mortgage applications rose by 3.4% in latest survey
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Friday, February 8, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/8/13


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/8/13 on the Web.


In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Improving Markets Index expands for sixth straight month to 259 metro areas
  • Productivity fell more than forecast in 4Q 2012 as companies approach efficiency limits from employees
  • Consumer credit rose more than forecast in November, especially for student loans and cars
  • Initial unemployment claims fall by 5,000 in latest report
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/6/13

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/6/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Service economy grows slower in January than December but survey respondents still optimistic
  • Chicago PMI puts in best performance in nine months
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Monday, February 4, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/4/13

Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/4/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Construction spending in December up by 7.8% over previous year; 2012 total up by 9.2% above 2011 level
  • Consumer sentiment unexpectedly rose in January, could benefit consumer spending
  • Employment grew modestly in January; unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged at 7.9%
  • Mortgage applications fall by 8.1% in latest survey as refinancing dips
  • Manufacturing activity expanded in January for second consecutive month
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

Friday, February 1, 2013

BuilderBytes' MetroIntelligence Economic Update for 2/1/13


Please click here to see the edition of BuilderBytes for 2/1/13 on the Web.

In this issue of the MetroIntelligence Economic Update, I covered the following indicators:
  • Private sector employment rose by 192,000 jobs in December
  • January planned layoffs rise from December but still third-lowest January since beginning of survey
  • Fourth quarter GDP fell by 1.0% in advance estimate
  • Personal incomes rose more than forecast in December as personal spending matched expectations
  • Initial unemployment claims rise by 38,000 in latest report, although 4-week moving average up by just 250
Want to advertise in the newsletter and reach over 130,000 readers? Contact National Sales Manager Nick Cosan at nkosan@penpubinc.com.
Want to make sure your company or event is included in the events calendar? Contact editor Evan Lancaster at elancaster@penpubinc.com.