Since its inception more than six decades ago, the NAHB has focused its efforts on a single mission—serving members' needs.

Sometimes fulfilling that goal is as simple as answering a telephone call and providing information. At other times—such as during today's difficult housing market—serving members' needs requires significantly more.

The NAHB board of directors bore this realization in mind when it met during the 2007 International Builders' Show. There, the board allocated $3 million for a new Buy Now Advertising Assistance program, to provide grants to help local HBAs conduct Buy Now campaigns in their markets.

The board is acutely aware that members in many parts of the country are struggling as a result of the downturn in the housing market. Because several associations were already considering or in the process of implementing Buy Now campaigns last February, the board determined that providing assistance with those programs was the best way to help members, while leveraging the NAHB's investment.

MONEY FOR MARKETING The Buy Now program is structured so that local associations (not state HBAs) in the top 10 major media markets as measured by the Nielsen ratings can receive matching grants equal to one-third of their campaign costs, up to a maximum of $75,000. Local associations with more than 250 members operating outside the top 10 major media markets can receive matching grants equal to one-half their campaign costs, up to a maximum of $40,000. And local associations with fewer than 250 members are eligible to receive grants of $5,000 with no matching required. To qualify, HBAs must provide evidence that their market is suffering from a downturn.

As soon as the program was announced, the NAHB was deluged with applications. And within just a few weeks, the joint member-staff team evaluating the applications had allocated more than $997,000 to 51 eligible HBAs, enabling them to conduct Buy Now campaigns valued at $3.5 million.

PAUSE FOR ANALYSIS But then, with dozens of applications pending, the funds temporarily stopped flowing. The board of directors had wisely stipulated that the program be evaluated for effectiveness after the first $1 million was distributed. Only if the program had been successful would the remaining $2 million be allocated for additional Buy Now campaigns.

As a condition of receiving the grant money, HBAs were required to poll their members about the program's effectiveness, and it wasn't long before we knew that members overwhelmingly viewed the program as successful and felt that it was having a positive effect in their markets. Based on that information, the NAHB senior officers, in consultation with the Public Affairs Committee, recently released the remaining $2 million for more Buy Now campaigns.

I urge all local HBAs considering advertising programs to apply for one of these grants. Buy Now campaigns can definitely help stimulate sales and rebuild confidence in the market, which is especially important today, when so many potential buyers are sitting on the fence. Most of these prospects are well qualified, but circumstances such as the controversy over subprime loans (which really affects only a small portion of the market) are making them fearful and hesitant to move forward.

I am very proud of this program and its accomplishments to date. It's effective and efficient, and it meets an important need in the housing market. It also demonstrates clearly that the NAHB recognizes that times are tough in many markets around the country and that we are stepping up to the plate to help out. That's important for every member to know.

For more information about the Buy Now Advertising Assistance program, visit or call 800-368-5242, ext. 8061.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.