Archive for News
From the National Association of Home Builders
The definition of a “navigable water” is at the heart of a case in which NAHB, the Southern Arizona HBA and the HBA of Central Arizona filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Jan. 18.
Why is this such a critical issue for home builders?
Determinations of Clean Water Act jurisdiction come with a very high price tag.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court (Rapanos v. United States), the average applicant for an individual Clean Water Act permit spends 788 days and $271,596 in complying with its requirements, whereas the average applicant for a nationwide permit spends 313 days and $28,915. And that’s not counting the substantial costs of mitigation or design changes.
This case has far-reaching implications for home buyers and property owners nationwide. By designating the waterway in question — the Santa Cruz River — as “traditionally navigable,” the federal agencies immediately gain jurisdiction over dry desert washes, arroyos and other water features within the 2.3 million-acre Santa Cruz watershed.
The lawsuit challenges a 2008 federal regulatory ruling that an Arizona riverbed fed by runoff from sewers and storm drains is in fact a traditional navigable water, and therefore is subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act.
These water features would not otherwise qualify as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act — but they are covered by state and local regulations. Meanwhile, no water flows permanently in the Santa Cruz riverbed, and it appears to not be an “interstate highway of commerce,” which would constitute a traditional navigable water.
NAHB and the Arizona HBAs raised a similar claim in a suit filed in March 2009, but were denied review on the grounds that the Clean Water Act precludes pre-enforcement judicial review of a traditional navigable water determination and because the lawsuit failed to demonstrate an “injury” to a specific member.
The U.S. Supreme Court has since issued a ruling providing a basis for challenging a jurisdictional determination. Furthermore, the plaintiffs (home builders) have identified several members suffering specific, tangible injuries. In light of these developments, NAHB and the Arizona HBAs have reinitiated their lawsuit.
From The National Association of Home Builders
Exceptionally low interest rates helped ensure a slight gain in nationwide housing affordability amid relatively stable house prices in the final quarter of 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released today.
In all, 74.9 percent of homes sold between the beginning of October and end of December were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $65,000. This was up nearly a percentage point from the 74.1 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in last year’s third quarter.
“The most recent housing affordability data should be encouraging to many prospective home buyers, because it shows that homeownership remains within reach of median-income consumers even as most local markets appear to be on a recovery path,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. He noted that the most recent reading of the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index found that 259 out of 361 metros currently qualify as improving, including representatives from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“The median price of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $188,000, essentially unchanged from the previous quarter’s $189,000 that marked a nearly three-year high,” noted NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “It is noteworthy that affordability remains historically high thanks to favorable mortgage rates even as national home price indexes show some rise in values.”
Ogden-Clearfield, Utah held its position as the nation’s most affordable major housing market for a second consecutive quarter at the end of 2012. There, 93.7 percent of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median household income of $71,500 – up slightly from the 93.2 percent of homes affordable to median-income earners in the third quarter.
NAHB’s Appraisal Working Group has been hard at work over the past year examining the nation’s appraisal system, talking to numerous stakeholders and developing recommendations for improving the system in order to alleviate one of the biggest problems that our members face in completing a new home sale — obtaining an accurate appraisal. This tough work has resulted in development of the newly published Comprehensive Blueprint for Appraisal Reform, which NAHB will use in our advocacy efforts with Congress, regulators and the appraiser community. The Blueprint focuses on the need for reform in four specific areas: 1) the overall regulatory framework for appraisals and oversight of the appraisal industry; 2) data and technology; 3) professional standards; and 4) practices, policies and procedures. Key recommendations outlined in the report call for streamlining and coordinating the current regulatory framework and devoting adequate resources to ensuring effective oversight and enforcement; creating a real estate data superhighway with a national real property registry and supporting networks; reaffirming and streamlining the key appraisal principles contained in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice; and establishing uniform credentialing standards specific to each area of appraisal practice. We also recommend establishment of a single, consistent set of rules and guidelines for appraisals; appraiser consideration of all three valuation approaches — cost, income and sales comparison — the establishment of standards and processes to ensure engagement of the best appraiser for the assignment; and the establishment of workable procedures for expedited appeals of inaccurate or faulty appraisals. NAHB members can access our Blueprint for Appraisal Reform on nahb.org.
By Elliott Eisenberg, PhD
The mortgage interest deduction (MID) cost the US Treasury $88.8 billion in 2011, making it the second largest tax break for individuals. That is precisely why the Congress has its sights set on it. However, there is much debate about how to reduce its costs to the Treasury and by how much.
No matter what happens, reducing the MID will lower some house prices. That being said, how the Congress reduces the MID will determine how much how many houses lose value. And since so many of us own a home, sell homes or build homes, the MID will not be singled out for special treatment. Rather, the Congress will cap or phaseout the value of all deductions, and in that way avoid favoring one deduction over another.
While there are several possible approaches, the fiscal cliff compromise bill passed into law on January 2nd of this year phases out itemized deductions for households with incomes over $300,000. While at first blush this may appear to be quite damaging, I think homeowners, realtors, builders, and the entire housing industry have all dodged a bullet and should sleep well for quite a while, or at least until the Congress reopens debate on the tax code sometime in the future
Phasing out Schedule A deductions for couples with incomes over $300,000 limits the impact to buyers of only the most expensive houses. For example, with a 10% down-payment on a $1,500,000 house, mortgage interest would be $54,000/year, property taxes would average $16,500, and insurance would be about $8,000, totaling $78,500 in annual housing-related expenses. To finance that mortgage, the $78,500 should ideally not be more than 30% of gross income, which means qualifying requires having an annual income of roughly $260,000; comfortably below the income level at which deductions start phasing out. Read More→
WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 10 — Michael LeCorgne, CAPS, CGA, CGP, CSP, a risk management specialist with 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty in Mandeville, La., has been named the 2012 Certified Graduate Associate (CGA) of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The CGA is a professional designation offered by NAHB for suppliers and other industry professionals who do business with builders and remodelers.
Prior to his current role, LeCorgne was a home builder, remodeler, renovator and commercial builder, and he also is a licensed insurance agent in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A veteran of the home building industry for nearly three decades, LeCorgne holds the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), Certified Green Professional™ (CGP) and Certified New Home Sales Professional (CSP) designations from NAHB.
The St. Tammany/Washington Parishes Home Builders Association, HBA of Greater New Orleans and the HBA of Louisiana have all recognized LeCorgne as their Associate of the Year. Nationally, he received the prestigious Bill Polley Award from NAHB for his political advocacy and was inducted into the Society for Honored Associates. In 2011, LeCorgne was inducted into the St. Tammany/Washington Parishes HBA and the HBA of Louisiana Hall of Fame.
LeCorgne has made significant contributions as an educator. He is an NAHB-approved instructor for several courses on topics such as business management, customer service and aging-in-place remodeling. The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors also approved LeCorgne to teach builder continuing education classes.
The CGA Designee of the Year is awarded to the industry professional who best showcases the importance of the educational designation and promotes professionalism. LeCorgne has held the CGA designation since 2005.
“Builders and remodelers want to work with individuals who understand the building industry,” said John Barrows, CGB, CGP, GMB, chairman for the Certified Graduate Builder Board of Governors and a builder from Wainscott, N.Y. “Michael exemplifies what the CGA designation is all about, a commitment to education and professionalism. He is committed to making the industry better in his home state and sharing his expertise as an instructor.”
LeCorgne and other leading industry professionals will be recognized at the 2013 International Builders’ Show on Jan. 21 in Las Vegas.