If I had to choose just a couple of words to characterize the housing environment in 2006, they would be “change” and “challenge.”

Almost overnight, it seemed, the prolonged seller's market that resulted in record-breaking new-home sales and home price appreciation shifted to a buyer's market with very different fundamentals and expectations. And with those changes came new challenges. Members needed to adjust their business practices to an entirely different set of conditions, and the NAHB needed to devise innovative products and services to meet members' new needs.

TOOLS FOR SUCCESS Member service has always been the NAHB's primary mission, and this year the NAHB has striven to meet that responsibility through tools and services.

“Back to Basics: NAHB's Toolkit for a Changing Environment” is an online compendium of time-tested ideas, innovative solutions, and other tools for builders to use as part of a comprehensive strategy for assessing their company's operations and adjusting them to take best advantage of current market conditions.

The NAHB also produced comprehensive “It's a Great Time to Buy” materials, including press releases, talking points, print advertisements, radio scripts, a flyer, letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, case studies, and more.

A PROACTIVE APPROACH As part of our efforts to ensure that the economic climate is hospitable to housing, the NAHB also met twice with Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, to emphasize that a healthy housing market depends on readily available, affordable credit and to urge that interest rates not be raised. Despite the ups and downs the housing market experienced in 2006, the long-term outlook for housing is quite good.

Demographics ultimately determine housing demand, and with our population on a growth path, the future looks bright. In 2006, the nation's population reached a record 300 million, and it is expected to grow to 400 million by 2043. That means that our industry will need to construct about 18 million homes over the next decade just to keep pace with demand.

One of the most significant changes our industry saw in 2006 occurred with the midterm elections. With the Democrats in control of both the House and Senate for the first time in 12 years, the balance of power in Congress has shifted. This is likely to bring challenges to our industry as well as opportunities. But just as housing is neither a Democratic nor a Republican issue, the NAHB is officially a non-partisan association. Through BUILD-PAC, we supported housing-friendly candidates on both sides of the aisle, and the great majority of those we supported won their races.

I'm also proud to note that BUILD-PAC surpassed all previous fundraising totals in this election cycle to reach a record $4 million in contributions. Next to your vote, your BUILD-PAC contribution is the most important way you can help ensure the best possible outcome for your industry when Congress considers housing-related issues. I urge all members to contribute to BUILD-PAC so that our voice will continue to be heard on Capitol Hill.

Finally, I think it's important to note that the NAHB's membership reached an all-time record of 235,000 in 2006. There is great strength in numbers, and when the NAHB speaks with a voice that is 235,000 members strong, Congress, the media, and the public will listen closely to what we have to say.

As this is my last monthly column for BUILDER, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friends and family, especially my wife, Tammy, and my sons, Lowry and James, for their unwavering support throughout 2006 and for helping to make my year as president of the NAHB such a great experience. I would also like to thank the other NAHB senior officers and the NAHB staff. It was truly an honor and a privilege to serve as president of the National Association of Home Builders, and it was an experience that I will always cherish.

David Pressley Jr., President, NAHB Washington, D.C.

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