Builder Pulse

A Home Builder’s Lament at the Cliff’s Edge

Submit A Comment | View Comments



A Home Builder’s Lament at the Cliff’s Edge

'Twas the night before fiscal, with nary a whiff 

Of hope, faith, or pipedream we'll be spared of the Cliff; 

Next year's budgets bend and buckle, and our pro formas groan,

As we home builders heave a heavy housing-wide moan.

Americans' dream of home owning is in deep duress,

As FHA flirts with insolvency, compounding the stress,

While Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, finance giants of yore,

Need fresh helmsmanship as Ed DeMarco heads for the door.

And the number one quandary as the clock ticks away:

Can demand's fragile momentum survive New Year's day?

For our buyers are wary, twice-bitten, thrice shy;

Most first-timers are sidelined, they can't qualify.

And the ones flush with cash who could carry the ball,

Don't see much in the market that excites them at all.

Basel triple-sticks looms, paralyzing each bank,

Not a glimmer of QM in ten-pounds of Dodd-Frank.

And as small biz mojo would kick-start the nation

On comes a Mack Truck of tax, cuts, regulation.

Life-signs fill housing's landscape, look at ‘12's recent traction

In permits, starts, completions, why stifle the action?

Basements burst at their seams with daughter, with son, 

In her 20s, his 30s, not our notion of fun.

In makeshift master-downs sleep our 80ish moms,

Or 90ish dads, which puts sweat on our palms.

‘Though this multigen living may be all the rage, 

It's not at all where we thought we would be at this stage.

But wait, now what is this, heading back from Hawaii, 

Holiday's on ice for one last-ditch college try?

Could it be Airforce One, or if not One then a loaner,

Jetting Prez to the Hill for a chat with John Boehner,

Or Reid, or Baucus, McConnell, Bachus, Norquist, or Hatch,

Not the full monty, but perhaps just a patch?

Some stopgap little fillip Simpson and Bowles would abhor, 

And the Fed Chair would rue too, but a foot in the door,

A plug or a TK or a good-faith placeholder, 

‘Til political will leads to measures much bolder. 

A little something for them, a bit more for us, 

One half of a minus for each two halves a plus.

But we swear by our radiant barrier roof 

We've got a solution, other downturns are proof,

That housing's the engine for deficit reduction,

Let us turn up our pace, don't axe that deduction!

You could see tax rolls go climbing, towns clawing from debt,

Little firm payrolls expanding, and that's not all yet; 

The food-trucks, furniture sales, insurance, TVs,

And roadsters, coups and hybrids, smart cars, SUVs.

So, bring on us builders with some AD&C,

To finance and finish building lots asap, 

For acres are scarce, and lumber's a trickle,

And the trades are so busy, their word's a bit fickle.

The slabs are all poured, framers' schedules are jammed,

And framed homes await roofing crews as they skeletally stand.

So, bring on double Dons, Richard, Stuart, and Paul,

Signal blitz to Ara, Larry N., Allen, and call

Out to Steve H., Larry M., and Doug, and Scott,

Add Sheryl, Robert, Alan N., and Roger C., why not?

However you classify Habitat and Weyerhaeuser,

Might as well pencil in Reckford and Orser.

Private players, Gary of Villages fame, and too, Shea Homes' Bert ; 

Davids Weekley and Drees,  and few more won't hurt.

So, Highland's R. Sanders, Long Lake's Craig and anyone called Ryan, 

And Wieland, Perry, McGuyer, Ken Balogh, Colonel Lyon.

Each of these players in home building's game,

Is an engine of growth, by trade and by name.

Whichever submarket housing's gaining a grip,

One or more of these builders is causing the blip.

Apologies to the ones we omit from our list,

Sorry too to friends and kin of folks who'll be missed,

Like dynast Ed Ryan, and Henry (Hank) Alan Morris,

And Walter Stefanowicz, and young Stephen Gidus.

And the one fallen giant we'll miss the most,

Renaissance man Barry Berkus, to him we toast.

At cliff's edge we stand, as the clock sounds tick, tick,

We'd welcome a visit from little old St. Nick.

Even a proxy for Santa would be quite neat,

Maybe @Pontifex would kindly send out a tweet.

One-hundred-forty characters would probably more than do:

"Housing's the little engine that could. So let it go choo, choo, choo, choo."


Comments (6 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 6:51 AM Thursday, May 01, 2014

    I just liked it very much. I found it worth reading. Hats off to the writer!

    Report this as offensive

  • Posted by: | Time: 3:36 PM Friday, December 28, 2012

    Merely obeying Moore's law ... number of words double as they're worth half as much. Happy New Year, Mr. Webb.

    Report this as offensive

  • Posted by: Larry Webb | Time: 10:57 AM Friday, December 28, 2012

    Totally love it...I think you should write a new poem every month. By the way, did you have a small problem as a child of not knowing when to stop things? Happy New Year to all....

    Report this as offensive

  • Posted by: | Time: 10:02 AM Friday, December 28, 2012

    Thanks Robert & REMiller. Now, it looks as if Sunday may be the do or die day for the fiscal cliff patch.

    Report this as offensive

  • Posted by: remiller | Time: 7:30 PM Thursday, December 27, 2012


    Report this as offensive

  • Posted by: Robert August | Time: 1:41 PM Thursday, December 27, 2012

    Great commentary poetically addressing the concerns of the hour! Le4t's all contact pour representatives today!Come Together NOW!

    Report this as offensive

Comment on this Post

Post your comment below. If you wish, enter a username and password though they are not required. Please read our Content Guidelines before posting.


Enter the code shown in the image

Username is optional


Enter a password if you want a username


About the Blogger

John McManus

thumbnail image John McManus is an award-winning editorial director for the Residential Construction Group at Hanley Wood in Washington, DC. In addition to the Builder digital, print, and in-person editorial and programming portfolio, the group includes strategic content direction for Affordable Housing Finance, Apartment Finance Today, Custom Home, Multifamily Executive, and Residential Architect.