high fives


Collectively, home builders nationwide sold 2,000 more homes a day for each of August 2015's 31 days, versus those same days last year.

Think about that. Mortgage credit's still hard to get. China's economy is a shadow of its former self. Greece and the Eurozone are are far from out of the woods. The energy glut has kicked in but good, and is spreading pain from Houston outward. Millennials still owe a mountain of college debt. Wages are barely budging. Homes at the low-end of new home building's pricing spectrum are not yet fully activated in the pipeline. And labor and lots have emerged as chronic constraints to a normalized housing recovery.

Despite all that, you and your sales and community development and management teams have gone 20%-plus better on a year-over-year basis, and the best single month's performance since February 2008.

That's occasion, in our book, for grateful props to your folks for pulling off results they should be proud of, especially given these headwinds and the general context of adversity that hasn't yet released its grip on residential development quite yet.  Now, those headwinds aren't done weighing on what happens next, and new ones are bound to crop up. Still, you've done wonders in one of the biggest "lessons learned" areas in home building. Which is to transform "order takers" into "problem solver sellers." Calculated Risk's Bill McBride has this diagram.

Calculated Risk's analysis of Census Bureau data on new home sales

Think about it. Last year was supposed to have been the break-out year for new home sales. Free of the prior year's governmental shut-down shenanigans, 2014 boasted strong jobs gains, better world economic demand, less immediate effect from the oil glut, and a dollop of stronger consumer sentiment overall. It should have made for a big-time spring-back for housing.

But we know what happened. Single-family barely moved the needle in 2014, while multi-family rocketed upward, suggesting to many that perhaps structural change had finally come to the American Dream of homeownership and that Renter Nation was more than a catchy-sounding myth.

The point is, although home builders have had and still face challenges as to what they can finance, develop, and build in this marketplace, their ability to design and sell homes that they do bring to market remains kick-ass positive.

Think of all the obstacles that come up to dissuade, delay, and derail prospective home buyers in the biggest financial decisions of their lives. Think of how your folks have learned to navigate, to hand-hold, to serve, and, more and more often, to delight these people--359,000 decision-makers in August alone (not-seasonally adjusted)--as they resolve on a new-home purchase.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. But, is now not a moment to take a breath and toast the achievements of the sales associates you've been training, managing, and challenging for moments just like the ones the market offers right now?

The next stretch ups the ante even more.

Sales associates, increasingly, will be in the front lines as both the financial sector and home builders and developers themselves try to ratchet the whole system down another notch to be more inclusive of people who want to own but cannot even begin to ponder paying the kinds of prices new homes in most markets cost.

Those protracted, up-and-down, service-intense selling horizons are not going away. Your sales associates have gotten a taste of the future and they've, thus far, been up to the task of shepherding the first ranks of housing recovery buyers into your new-home communities.

At the same time, new communities programmed to open the "payment-power box" as the financial community programs to open the "credit box" will push more attainable, more volume-driven, and more risk-sensitive product into the pipeline.

Now, back to the American Dream, where what you do to inspire will be what causes the next wave of American Dreamers to aspire.

Existing Home Sales vs. New Home Sales, per Calculated Risk