When you are a business magazine reporter, you never expect to find yourself writing an obituary. But that’s exactly what I found myself doing Monday after learning that David K. Hill, founder of Kimball Hill Homes, had died over the weekend.
For me, the sad news served as abrupt reminder of just how much housing has changed since I first began covering the industry in 2000. Back then, big builders were just starting to move pieces of their business to the Web, housing had only just begun its upward climb, and Generation X (not Y) was the demographic everyone wanted to understand.
And Kimball Hill, like many builders, was growing and thriving.
The news events of this past week obviously painted a very different picture of the housing industry. On Wednesday, President George W. Bush finally signed the housing rescue bill, a huge package of legislation which everyone hopes will bring much-needed stability to the housing and financial markets.
So much for housing shaking its cyclical reputation, huh?
This week’s news about an “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” family losing their house to foreclosure exposed another weak spot in the American Dream. This concept, so essential to builders both personally and professionally, equates homeownership with a passport to family happiness and financial security. Ironically, BUILDER readers know this home well; Pat Curry covered the 2005 build, done by Beazer Homes, in the magazine.
Perhaps in such a challenging environment for housing, the loss of someone like Dave Hill is felt even more keenly by those who knew him well. That wasn’t me—I only knew him within the context of my stories for BUILDER, but I certainly was familiar with his reputation. A passionate advocate for both affordable housing and the industry as a whole, Hill made his case for housing on both the local and national stage. As both builders and the organizations that serve them struggle to emerge from the current downturn, Hill will obviously be missed on a personal and professional basis by his long-time colleagues, whose voices caught with emotion as they remembered their friend this week. —Alison Rice
Boyce on Building: Bittersweet Pill
The so-called housing “rescue” bill, passed by Congress and awaiting the President’s signature, delivered a pounding to the housing industry in the first few days after its provisions became clear. Public builder stocks fell by more than 15 percent upon news that the bill would eliminate as of Oct. 1 of this year the down-payment assistance programs widely used by builders.
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