Eighty builders, including CEOs from top 10 builders Lennar, Centex, Pulte Homes, and Hovnanian Enterprises, converged on Washington today in an attempt to persuade legislators to add a housing recovery plan to the economic stimulus package proposed by the incoming Obama administration.

A “Legislative Fly-In” sponsored by the NAHB brought the group, who are members of the “Fix Housing First” coalition, to the nation's capital to bring their message not only to their local representatives, but also to House and Senate housing committee chairmen Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd.

NAHB CEO Jerry Howard, speaking to the group this morning before they headed to Capitol Hill, stressed the seriousness of their mission and the necessity for success. “Even among the graybeards in this room,” he said, “none of us have lived through this kind of economic dynamic before.”

The coalition is proposing three measures designed to improve the balance of supply and demand and restore consumer confidence:

1. Support for the FDIC’s mortgage modification plan
The plan advocates applying the current IndyMac program throughout the industry. NAHB economist David Crowe estimated that the program could modify one half of the four million loans currently in trouble and could help to prevent as many as 1.5 million foreclosures.

2. Extend and enhance the tax credit for home buyers
The group wants the government to offer a tax credit of between $10,000 and $22,000 (geographically dependent) to all home buyers, to be used toward a down payment and to be repaid only if the home is sold within three years

3. Create a below-market 30-year fixed rate for home purchases
The builders also want Congress to make available a rate of 2.99 percent for homes closed through June 30, 2009, and 3.99 percent for homes closed between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2009.

Howard encouraged the builders to stay on message with their Congressional representatives, get a yes or no answer on whether or not they will help, and present a unified front. “We’re not here as large builders, or small builders, or low-income builders,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”

Denise Dersin is editor-in-chief of BUILDER magazine.


Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.