IF THE LATE DALE CARNEGIE NEEDED HELP WRITING AN UPDATE to his classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he could look to this group for help. Well, maybe they aren't the best choices for instructions on making friends, but as far as influence goes, they certainly have proven adept at making things—big things—happen in home building.
When BUILDER's editors gathered earlier this year to put together this list, we considered one primary measure: When these individuals speak, do other people listen? More important, do they act? Each of the professionals who made the cut left no doubts.
Some made the list as a direct result of being willing to take risks such as angering adversaries, speaking out against the status quo, and starting companies based on unproven ideas. Others stood out for the effect their good works have had on the housing industry and those it serves. Still more made it by virtue of the money they move, directly or indirectly. Finally, we recognized those whose positions atop some of the nation's biggest companies—even when compared to those outside the housing industry—have magnified their clout. These power brokers can point to many examples of their influence, and if the future is anything like the past, there'll be many more to come.—Michele Mariani
1. Alan Greenspan
Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System His actions can continue the current housing boom or grind it to a halt. That may be oversimplifying Greenspan's effect on home building, but not by much: It's safe to say that his actions as Fed chairman in recent years—particularly his role in keeping the short-term Federal Funds rate at its all-time low for a year—stimulated the industry's business. Those low rates spurred historically low mortgage rates, allowing home shoppers to continue buying despite skyrocketing home prices.
All eyes stayed on the five-term chairman when he began hinting that the Fed would raise rates to stave off rising inflation. The Fed's done just that, raising the Federal Funds rate three times already this year. Still, the boom continues, which just guarantees that we'll be watching for his next move.—Michele Mariani
2. Franklin Raines
Chairman and CEO, Fannie Mae As the head of the nation's largest source of financing for home mortgages, Raines is in a position of great influence for builders. Under his watch Fannie Mae has expanded its use of technology and mortgage products and committed $2 trillion toward financing affordable homeownership and rental housing for 18 million families.
A former cabinet member, Raines is putting his political skills to use to retain his position and control in the face of intense federal scrutiny; Alan Greenspan is urging consumers to buy ARMs, which would take business away from Fannie Mae, and telling Congress to rein in Fannie and Freddie Mac with increased regulation.—Pat Curry
3. George W. Bush
President Of The United States, Federal Government In two polls conducted by BUILDER during the election season roughly three out of every four builders surveyed planned to vote for President George W. Bush. Builders largely believe that the Republican business policies of lower taxes, streamlined regulations, and tort reform are in their best interests. The majority of the nation's voters agreed, and Bush won the Nov. 2 election against Sen. John Kerry. Bush vows to make minority homeownership a continued priority, but he'll have a tough time juggling domestic needs with our Middle East commitments.—Steve Zurier
4. Jerry Howard
Executive Vice President andCEO, National Association of Home Builders It is widely believed that the U.S. economy would be in the commode if it were not being propped up by home building and the real estate market. The NAHB, headed by Howard, has played a major role in the industry's success. With a total of 215,000 builder and remodeler members, including 800 state and local associations, the 62-year-old Washington-based association is a powerful voice, enhancing the climate for housing and the building industry through economic, legislative, and regulatory channels. The association's housing forecasts are like grist for the Wall Street mill.—Nigel F. Maynard
5. Andres Duany
Founding Principal, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. Let's face it—the building industry wouldn't be buzzing about traditional neighborhood developments or New Urbanism if it weren't for Duany. Seaside, Fla., clearly is Duany's most famous project, but his groundbreaking firm is associated with a whole lot more. In fact, DPZ has a whopping 120 projects in its global portfolio. In addition, Duany, a founder and board member of the Congress for New Urbanism, has been at the forefront of a movement that integrates planning with accompanying design codes. His philosophy has changed the look of communities everywhere, on sites that range from 10 to more than 500,000 acres.—Kathleen Stanley
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.