Housing news this week ranged from the unexpected (who knew Toyota built homes?) to the tragic, as a Georgia builder is charged with murder after shooting a drywall contractor he thought was a copper thief. It’s a sad and desperate story, as too many housing stories are these days.

Happily, the Wall Street Journal’s story on Toyota and its prefab housing operation is neither. Quirky and entertaining, the piece provides a peek into a future world that will open your mind and make you wonder what might be possible.  Just consider this: “The car maker is testing an electricity-monitoring system in its homes that would charge the vehicle during off-peak hours to keep utility bills low, while the car's battery can serve as an electrical backup, powering the home during blackouts. Toyota engineers are also experimenting with using solar panels as house siding and powering homes with fuel cells, which combine hydrogen and air to produce electricity.” To me, it requires imagination to simply picture such a scenario, much less dream it up and push it into research and development.

But it’s also incredibly inspiring to see an example of such innovation and integration. As too many Americans wince at the pump and reconsider their decision to move to a new home in the suburbs, isn’t it time to think about some new ideas ourselves?--Alison Rice

NEW on BUILDER Online: What Will Happen Next?

Questions abound in today’s housing market. Will Countrywide have to pay damages? What will be the pace of new-home sales next month? Where will 30-year-fixed mortgage rates stand on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, two days after we elect our next president? Make your predictions about these and other issues at BUILDER Online’s Prediction Center, now live at http://builderonline.predictify.com/PartnerPlatform8.aspx?P=221.

Check Housing Headlines From Coast to Coast

Want more local and regional news headlines? Visit BUILDER’s hand-picked housing headline feed at http://builderonline.tumblr.com/, which is updated daily with the latest links from major newspapers and regional business journals.


Boyce on Building: Turn for the Worse

Conversations at last week’s PCBC conference, coupled with recent builder surveys, indicate that new home sales took a turn for the worse in the last several weeks, choking cash flow and imperiling the lives of more home building companies. Almost at the same time, high-profile builder bankruptcy filings began to escalate. Which leads to the most frequent question I get right now: Is every private builder out there on the ropes today? http://www.builderonline.com/blogs/postdetails.aspx?BlogId=thompsonsblog&postId=84898

Housing Crisis

How Lehman Brothers Veered Off Course: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/02/AR2008070203343.html

Home Builders Hire Some Jumbo Lobbying Help: http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=5&docID=news-000002908427

Big Builders At Odds With NAHB: http://www.bigbuilderonline.com/industry-news.asp?sectionID=0&articleID=730646

Georgia Builder Shuts Its Doors: http://www.builderonline.com/economic-conditions/georgia-builder-shuts-its-doors.aspx

Localities to Lenders: Maintain Your Foreclosures in Good Condition: http://www.builderonline.com/legislation/localities-to-lenders-maintain-foreclosures.aspx

Residential Construction Sheds More Jobs in June: http://www.builderonline.com/economic-conditions/residential-construction-sheds-more-jobs-in-june.aspx

Florida Joins States Suing Countrywide Financial: http://www.builderonline.com/mortgages-and-banking/florida-joins-states-suing-countrywide.aspx

Taylor Wimpey Takes $1.3 Billion Writeoff: http://www.builderonline.com/economic-conditions/taylor-wimpey-takes-1-point-billion-writeoff.aspx

Florida Courts Can Now Conduct Foreclosure Sales Online: http://www.builderonline.com/mortgages-and-banking/florida-courts-can-now-conduct-foreclosure-sales-online.aspx

Resets Peaking on Subprime Loans: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/30/AR2008063001848.html?hpid=topnews

Business of Building

Toyota Throws More Weight Behind Its Homes Unit: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121496449430221935.html?mod=djemRealEstate John Laing Homes Consolidates in Northern California: http://www.builderonline.com/operations/laing-consolidates-in-northern-california.aspx

Construction Spending Dips Slightly in May: http://www.builderonline.com/housing-data/construction-spending-dips-in-may.aspx

Demand for Accessible Homes Will Rise: http://www.builderonline.com/active-adult/demand-for-accessible-homes-will-rise.aspx

Austin City Council Passes Weakened Visitability Rule: http://www.builderonline.com/bathroom/austin-city-council-passe-weakened-visitability-rule.aspx

Affordable Housing

New Jersey Likely to Adopt Affordable Housing Reform: http://www.builderonline.com/affordable-housing/new-jersey-likely-to-adopt-affordable-housing-reform.aspx N.J. Housing Rules Deplored: http://philadelphia.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/stories/2008/06/30/story2.html?f=et180&b=1214798400^1659912&ana=e_vert

Have You Heard?

Builder Faces Murder Case http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/stories/2008/07/01/copper.html

Got Feedback? Please e-mail any comments, questions, suggestions, and news tips to Denise Dersin, BUILDER’s Editor in Chief. She can be reached at ddersin@hanleywood.com.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.