June 2006 Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Turbulent Times

IF YOU LOOK AT THE NUMBERS, THE DENVER MARKET WOULD seem to be in good shape: Job growth is outpacing the country, and new homes remain relatively affordable because price appreciation has lagged behind the red-hot coastal markets of the last five years. Yet after I perhaps foolishly painted this somewhat optimistic scenario in a speech last month, a high-end production builder asked me how come his traffic and sales dropped 50 percent in one week. Read more

Kitchen Magnets Kitchen Magnets

INDUCTION COOKTOPS—WHICH USE A magnetic field to generate heat—were introduced to the American market nearly 20 years ago. Popular in Europe, where natural gas is generally expensive, induction technology has been unsuccessful in this country because of its low power and unreliability. Read more

Step On It Step On It

CERAMIC TILE IS SO DURABLE THAT IT is likely to outlast the houses you build—which may explain why home buyers love the material so much. Ubiquitous in kitchens and baths, ceramic is water resistant, hard wearing, and (relatively) easy to clean, which is why manufacturers say it should not be restricted to the wet areas of the home. Read more

Candyland Reuse Project Candyland

BOSTON-BASED LEGGAT MC-CALL Properties is giving new meaning to the expression “home sweet home.” That's because the developer is transforming a former candy factory into One First, a mixed-used project with condos as well as commercial and retail space. Read more

Cottage Industry Manufactured Housing Cottage Industry

A PROPOSAL THAT WOULD ALLOW FEMA TO PROVIDE permanent housing for disaster victims could catapult panelized construction into the mainstream and effectively put an end to “trailer ghettos.” Read more

One Fell Swoop Government Crack Down One Fell Swoop

BUILDERS IN THE FUTURE MAY WELL POINT TO May 9, 2006, as the day when the immigration debate stopped being academic for the housing industry. Early that morning, federal agents raided three of Fischer Homes' jobsites in Kentucky, Fischer's headquarters in Crestview Hills, Ky., and apartment complexes where contractors allegedly boarded illegal workers. That raid led to the arrests of 76 undocumented workers and four of the builder's construction supervisors. Read more

House Blend: June 2006

- Appliance giant Whirlpool Corp., which manufactures the Whirlpool and KitchenAid brands, completes its $1.7 billion acquisition of Maytag Corp. - The U.S. Green Building Council is looking to toughen its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards by expanding it rating system for whole neighborhoods. - Champion Enterprises, a manufactured home production leader, acquires Highland Manufacturing Co. in a deal valued at $23 million in cash. Read more

Minnesota Compromise Minnesota Compromise

IN A UNIQUE COMPROMISE, LAWMAKERS IN MINNESOTA crafted a bill that included a notice and opportunity to repair (NOR) law that builders sought for two years and also contained assurances for homeowners that they can make a warranty claim even if a building company is dissolved. Read more

Help Not Wanted

MORTGAGE BANKERS HAVE BEGUN to hit the point in the housing cycle that they didn't welcome, yet knew was coming: layoffs. Mortgage rates have finally headed north, leading to a drop of about 10 percent in mortgage purchase originations since April 2005—refinancings are down even more steeply—and, in many cases, lenders' earnings have fallen accordingly. Read more

The Straight Dope The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth Sail Away Home

Arizona developer Randall Jackson says that he saw the need for a luxury residential cruise ship while sailing through the Straits of Magellan during a family vacation. Never mind that several already exist. Jackson's ship—appropriately named the Magellan—sets itself apart with fractional ownership and the ability to finance 75 percent of an onboard con-do through Jackson's own mortgage company, says Kevin Miller, director of sales and marketing for Residential Cruise Line. Read more

Boycott a Bust? Immigration Reform Boycott a Bust?

A MAY 1 NATIONAL BOYCOTT DESIGNED to demonstrate the economic power of immigrants had varying degrees of impact on home builders, many of whom depend on immigrants for the bulk of their workforce. Read more

Top Shelf: June 2006

This month's top shelf products includes the SillGuard sill pan from Marvin Windows and Doors, Trade Titan industrial work carts from the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., and the NightWatch deadbolt, a new product from Master Lock. Read more

On Second Thought ... Vital Signs On Second Thought ...

A YEAR AGO, A BUYER CANCELING A CONTRACT on a new home wasn't all bad news. It often meant that the builder could capitalize on rapid price appreciation by reselling the home at a significant increase. Read more

First Steps

A NEW JOINT STUDY ON HOME TECHNOLOGY by Parks Associates and Builder finds that 56 percent of home builders look for new products to set them apart from the competition. Leading devices include home controls, security systems, central vacuums, and entertainment systems. Read more

Digital Briefs: June 2006

- Alarm.com now offering PDA connctivity for its wireless security systems. - Home Automation Inc. introduces Lumina, a low-cost lighting product for home buyers. Read more

IP in the House IP in the House

NETSTREAMS OF AUSTIN, TEXAS, IS among the few home-tech providers that can offer builders a distinct path to creating home systems that run over Internet protocol (IP). Read more

Swift Service Swift Service

THE WARRANTY MANAGEMENT PROCESS AT GL Homes of Florida used to be bogged down by paper. Read more

Tech Briefs: June 2006

- Latista Technologies offers software to help builders work more effectively in the field. - John Laing Homes to use Engineering, Construction, and Operations tools from software maker SAP. Read more

Garden State Of Mind Garden State Of Mind

FOR YEARS, THE VISTA JUST BEYOND THE “Welcome to Metuchen” sign at the south end of town was, well, less than welcoming. Visitors crossing from Edison Township in New Jersey into the century-old borough were greeted by a wild stretch of overgrown brush and an abandoned shack used seasonally for Christmas tree sales. Three houses on the 2.64-acre site had been used as rental properties over the years, but had fallen into disrepair. Read more

Fresh Start Fresh Start

NAME-DROPPING IS A TIME-HONORED tradition in Los Angeles. Happily for Structure Homes, its moniker is one that's tossed around frequently and favorably in Pacific Palisades, a tony suburb just up the beach from Santa Monica. The builder/developer had already completed four other teardown projects in the community when its partners laid plans to raze their latest acquisition, a 1,600-square-foot rambler overridden with mold. Read more

The Teardown Ambassadors The Teardown Ambassadors

IF YOU WENT TO THE CIRCUS AS A KID, YOU NO DOUBT REMEMBER one of the old standbys—elephants riding bicycles that barely support their lumbering frames. This is how some homeowners view the teardown projects now proliferating in their established neighborhoods. Except that they don't think of them as the greatest show on earth. Read more

Local Leaders Listings and Archives

Builder's June issue includes the annual Local Leaders report, which ranks the top 10 builders in each of the 75 largest new-home markets in the country. This year's rankings reveal that the top 10 national builders captured the number one position in 35 of the top 75 markets in 2005. That's in contrast to 2001, when the top 10 national builders topped the lists in 30 of the top 50 markets. Read more

No-Fly Zones No-Fly Zones

IT'S HARD TO ARGUE WITH JIM MIGLIORE, CEO OF BILL CLARK HOMES IN Greenville, N.C., when he boasts that land for new-home construction “usually comes to us.” Last year, the builder acquired the land assets of developer Bledsoe Properties in Fayetteville, N.C. Another parcel it recently bought in Apex, N.C.—after a national builder backed out of the deal—is expected to yield 263 homes. In Myrtle Beach, S.C., Bill Clark Homes has a relationship with Burroughs & Chapin, one of that market's biggest landowners. Read more

The NAHB Research Center Corner In-Depth Survey

EVERY YEAR, WITH THE PARTICIPATION of thousands of builders nationwide, the NAHB Research Center's annual Builder Practices Survey (BPS) documents materials usage in new-home construction. Recognized as one of the most comprehensive sources of data on residential building materials available, the BPS details the characteristics of materials purchased—from flooring and cabinetry to fireplaces and garage doors—to provide perspective on industry trends and product market share. Read more

Seiders Economy Change of Course

HOME PURCHASES BY INVESTORS/SPECULATORS surged in 2005, and hot “sellers' market” conditions showed up in record sales, soaring prices, minimal cancellation rates, and thin inventory positions. But eroding affordability conditions and fading investor demand have changed all of that. Read more

Seeing Green

The NAHB has created Green Home Building Guidelines to move environmentally friendly home building concepts further into the mainstream home building marketplace. Read more

NAHB Briefs: June 2006

- Housing industry expert Bill Webb releases instructive guide that shows how to maximize sales potential and profits in lean times. - NAHB's Building Systems Councils offer free brochure on the benefits of modular homes. - NAHB encourages members to take advantage of a free savings analysis offered by Solveras Payment Systems. Read more

Oakwood, Raleigh, N.C. Oakwood, Raleigh, N.C.

ALTHOUGH IT TAKES ITS NAME FROM A NEARBY CEMETERY filled with fallen Confederate soldiers, historic Oakwood is a vibrant community and the only remaining intact 19th-century neighborhood in Raleigh, N.C. Raleigh was planned from its conception to be the state's capital, and its statehouse buildings were quickly followed by colleges, businesses, and residences befitting a capital city. Begun soon after the end of the Civil War, Oakwood was the first completely residential neighborhood built in the city. The community's architectural styles describe the arc of changing tastes in the latter part of the 19th century, progressing from Neo-Classical to French to Victorian to Queen Anne and back again to Neo-Classical. The homes' architects, most of them local, strove for correctness and attention to form in their designs, and yet they included modifications particularly suited to Southern climes and proclivities. Steeply pitched roofs and deep overhangs help cool the interiors of the homes. And almost every house in Oakwood possesses at least one porch; many have several. Read more

Riverfront Makeover Riverfront Makeover

IT'S AN OLD STORY IN HOME BUILDING: One builder's disaster becomes another's dream development. That certainly was the case for The Harborage on Braden River in Bradenton, Fla. An old guava grove that had been overrun by Brazilian peppers, it came on the market after the owner had failed in an effort to have the 56-acre parcel zoned for townhouses. Read more

Peacemaker Peacemaker

LOCATED JUST FIVE MINUTES FROM Tinker Air Force Base, Liberty Trails had a simple mission, says Carol Williams, director of single-family homes for Oklahoma City–based builder GT Homes. “We really cater to the military,” she says. “During wartime, [we] really wanted a great place during a stressful time.” Read more

Shining A Spotlight Shining A Spotlight

SOMETIMES, A GOOD PRODUCT NEEDS A little push to become a best-seller. That was the case with Waterford Village, a community of single-family homes full of desirable features. Read more

Shoe-Leather Selling Shoe-Leather Selling

BEFORE CLEVELAND BEGAN REDEVELOPING Ward Five, it was home to the city's highest level of unemployment, crime, cancer, and public housing. “Ward Five was historically left for naught,” says Rob Namy, director of development for Cleveland-based Rysar Properties. “There were literally hundreds of acres of vacant land left for foreclosure.” Read more

Carved In Stone Carved In Stone

BOB SHUSTER, PRESIDENT OF RWS CUSTOM Homes, says he knows that if he needs to get to a jobsite in Franklin Farms in a hurry, he'd better take the truck. “People wave at me when I drive through the community,” he says. “It takes too long to walk down the street because everyone wants to stop and talk. Those are good problems.” Read more

Going It Alone Going It Alone

WHEN COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO., builder/developer Classic Homes purchased 650 acres for a master planned community, one of the first questions was whether to remain the sole builder or to let other builders in to spread the risk—and the reward. This time it opted not to share, says director of sales Ty Olson. “I was confident we could do it on our own.” Read more

Side-Yard Living Side-Yard Living

NOT MANY BUILDERS—OR HOME BUYERS—get the chance to be part of a new city. Mountain House is the first city to be developed in California in the last quarter century. Organized into villages on roughly 5,000 acres near Tracy, Calif., it will include about 15,000 homes at build-out. Read more

Ultimate Makeover Ultimate Makeover

THE MUNGO COS. OF COLUMBIA, S.C., didn't have to do much to market the master planned community of Brook-haven, also in Columbia. Ideally located for commuters to both Columbia and Charlotte, N.C., the site had been watched by builders and buyers for years. Originally intended for industrial use, the 1,000-acre parcel was known as “the IBM tract,” says Steven Mungo, CEO of The Mungo Cos. When that use never materialized, the site was converted to residential. Brookhaven was the first neighborhood to be developed there. Read more

A Hidden Gem A Hidden Gem

THE SALES STAFF AT CROMWELL PARK knew that once people arrived and saw what the community had to offer, they'd fall in love with it. The hard part was getting them there. Read more

Backroads Tour Backroads Tour

WHAT DO BEST-SELLING COMMUNITIES have in common? It's not price point, product type, location, or lifestyle. Those are all over the place, from true starter homes to high-end luxury living. What the builders of these communities share is a clear understanding of the market. Read more

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