Barry Rutenberg

Chairman of the Board, NAHB

Washington, D.C.
Barry Rutenberg Chairman of the Board, NAHB Washington, D.C.

By Barry Rutenberg Many things have changed in our industry since I became a home builder more than three decades ago. But despite the many changes, one thing has remained reliably consistent over the years: the value that the NAHB provides to builders and associates alike. Membership in the NAHB is crucial to success for everyone involved in the process of constructing new homes, no matter what their role.

At any given time, NAHB’s multi-disciplinary advocacy team is working on more than 100 issues that affect every aspect of the home building business. They range from regulatory concerns such as model codes to federal legislation, and can have a profound effect on home building, the cost of new homes, and every member’s bottom line.

Over the past year, the NAHB has focused a great deal of attention on housing finance issues. One of the most pressing concerns is an ongoing credit crunch for new construction. The NAHB has worked hard on Capitol Hill and among the regulatory agencies to ensure that capital is available, and it has created exclusive resources to help members find the funding they need.

Appraisals that don’t accurately reflect the true value of a newly constructed home and contribute to price volatility are another pressing problem. The NAHB has been working closely with regulators and the appraisal community toward major reforms in appraisal practices and oversight.

Looking to the future, the NAHB also has set out a comprehensive framework for reform of the nation’s housing finance system and is working with Congress and regulators to ensure that it provides a stable and affordable supply of credit to home builders and housing consumers.

The NAHB also monitors federal housing programs and steps in when necessary to protect members’ interests. In late 2011, for example, Congress allowed higher FHA loan limits that were in effect in 2010 and 2011 to expire. Following an intense campaign by the NAHB, the higher FHA loan limits were reinstated a short time later. Nationwide, builders would have lost thousands of new home sales in 2012 if the higher loan limits had not been reinstated.

NAHB actions related to EPA stormwater regulations resulted in significant savings for builders last year. In response to challenges by the NAHB, the EPA acknowledged that the government did not have sufficient data to support its proposed numeric limit for stormwater discharges. The EPA then withdrew the proposal, saving builders more than $1,500 per new home built in 2012.

Assistance from staff experts on countless housing subjects ranging from legislation and regulatory concerns to legal issues, design, market trends and construction techniques is readily available to members at all times. Members also can get the latest news affecting the home building industry through the weekly Monday Morning Briefing and the biweekly Washington Update, which focuses on advocacy.

Insider opportunities at all levels of the federation, especially peer-to-peer networking, help members stand out and take the lead in our competitive industry. The NAHB also provides education programs, free webcasts, members-only online content, discounts for the International Builders’ Show, and other tools that promote professionalism and help builders and associates stay ahead. The NAHB also helps to cut operating costs with discounts on a range of products and services. One of the most popular is a $500 discount on the purchase or lease of most new GM vehicles, which saved NAHB members more than $2 million in 2012.

The NAHB also provides services and products to association executive officers to help them better serve members at the local and state levels.

The bottom line is that NAHB members get more. Membership provides more resources, more benefits, more business, and more advantages.