My wife Rachael and I recently drove to Chicago with our two young children. Being in the car that long brings a few repeat questions. Far and away, the question of greatest frequency was: “Are we there yet?” By my count the question was asked about 25,000 times on the trip (as if they somehow might miss our arrival at our destination).
Of course, many who make their living in residential construction and housing are asking similar questions, and some have been asking for a long time: Are we there yet? How much longer? Have we hit bottom? When does the recovery begin?
While nobody seems to think our current economic condition is due for a whiplash-inducing immediate and vibrant rebound, we are beginning to see encouraging signs.
Nationwide, housing starts and permits posted substantial gains in June. The U.S. Commerce Department reported a 3.6 percent gain in overall housing starts to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 582,000 units and an 8.7 percent gain in permit issuance to 563,000 units.
Locally, one of our most telling barometers is the number of building permits issued in Greene county (the largest permitting jurisdiction in the region). One comparison I watch closely is how our most recent monthly building permit number compares to the number of permits issued in the same month a year earlier. That comparison hadn’t looked good in a long time. In fact, through April 2009, we had experienced 22 consecutive months of decline by that measure. Then, in May, Greene county issued more permits than it had in May 2008. Then the same happened in June. After 22 consecutive months of decline locally, we experienced two consecutive “up” months.
These are encouraging signs. But we are far from out of the woods. Challenging times lie ahead. That’s why now may be the very best time to prepare yourself and your business for the coming recovery. Consider just a couple of upcoming opportunities the HBA of Greater Springfield is offering to equip you.
HBA leadership recently met with about a dozen area lenders to try to get our arms around the current credit environment and how it is affecting (and will affect) our members’ ability to shift their businesses back into a higher gear, once the recovery is underway. It was an enlightening conversation. Every builder owes it to himself/herself to get up to speed on this topic. The rules (both written and unwritten) are not the same as they were the last time many builders built their last house. For a quick primer on the content of the meeting, check out President Rusty MacLachlan’s blog.
On September 18, at the HBA’s quarterly Builder Breakfast, this issue will be the topic of a panel discussion/roundtable. The breakfast is no charge for HBA builders, remodelers & developers and it will be a valuable investment of time. Please join us (RSVP with a quick e-mail to Kay at the HBA office).
Get Certified & Get Green!
In September – for the first time in our 55-year history – the HBA of Greater Springfield will host a National Association of Home Builders University of Housing designation program locally. Members can earn their Certified Green Professional designation in Springfield in one three-day bundle on September 9, 10, and 11. Normally, to complete the education necessary to obtain this designation, a local HBA member would have to travel all over the country at considerable expense and inconvenience.
Not surprisingly, response to the designation courses has been very strong already, and we are anticipating a full house. If you ever have considered pursuing an NAHB professional designation, there is no better way to start than with the CGP. It is the hottest, fastest growing designation NAHB offers. It can be completed in a short timeframe. And courses you take for the CGP also can count toward other designations (Certified Graduate Remodeler, Graduate Master Builder, etc.). More information on this can be found by clicking here. You can also reserve your spot now by contacting education coordinator Carrie Smith in the HBA office
One way or another, recovery is coming. Will you be ready? Let the HBA help you prepare!
Blogging So You Don’t Have To…
Matt Morrow, CEO
HBA of Greater Springfield