Epcon Communities Adds Franchises Epcon Communities is four steps closer to its goal of expanding its business to include 130 franchise operations peppered throughout 30 states by the end of 2006. The Dublin, Ohio–based builder of maintenance-free, four-plex condominiums announced the addition of four new franchisees, all located in different markets throughout the country.

The new franchisees are Three Eagles, owned by Duane Cathell, in New Albany, Ohio; Jeffrey Chamberlain, Theodore Chamberlain, and Gregory Schuler, in Jacksonville, Ore.; Marley Development Co., owned by Harry D. Marley Jr., in Fort Smith, Ark.; and North Florida Development Group, owned by Cary R. Fourman, in St. Augustine, Fla.

Together, the franchises are expected to build 250 new homes during the next two years for the nation's 36th largest builder.

Russia Eyed as Lumber Source With environmental and regulatory policies restricting the pipeline of domestic lumber to a trickle, builders are anxious to find new sources to meet their demand. Although Canadian lumber accounts for the bulk of the 38 percent of all imported lumber, it may be getting some new competition.

At the International Forestry Forum held in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in October, there was talk of an international swap, in which U.S. builders would share American home-building technology with its Russian counterparts in exchange for a boost in Russian softwood lumber exports to the United States.

Such an agreement is a reaction to not only what some industry experts consider an over reliance on Canadian lumber imports but also the controversial new softwood accord between the United States and Canada, which critics complain will hamper housing affordability. The accord will go into effect on Nov. 1.

Creative Mortgages Still Hot Despite the $1 trillion in exotic loans that will reset in 2007 at higher interest rates, generating higher monthly payments, more people are using creative or payment option mortgages to finance the purchase of their homes. A Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive personal finance poll found that four in 10 U.S. adults have utilized such mortgages, a number that has increased 5 percent from a year ago. The change shows that these types of financing are gaining acceptance in the marketplace.

Executive Moves Please send information regarding all staffing changes to Sarah Yaussi at syaussi@hanleywood.com.

A home building veteran of 16 years, Deborah Haddad moves up from vice president of land acquisitions for Lennar Corp.'s urban land division to senior vice president of its urban home building division based in Chicago. In her new role, Haddad will pursue joint venture opportunities and oversee development and sale of urban properties.

Haddad will receive support from Britta Rivera, the division's new vice president of sales. Rivera has more than 13 years of experience in multifamily sales.

Four new faces have been added to the team at CityView, a national discretionary housing investor. Dean Chang is the new director of acquisitions; as the team assistant, Camille Chevez will support the deal team in managing information flow. Vikas Jain is hired as a financial analyst, while Lorraine Pulid-Ramirez joins the company as the director of marketing.