THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT THE HOUSING market is winding down from the record sales and production levels of recent years. Sales and starts are down; interest rates are up; inventories of unsold homes are up; and cancellations are on the rise. Such circumstances inevitably present new business challenges for builders, especially those who have never experienced anything less than a relatively robust housing market. But with the cooling trend expected to persist into the middle of next year, builders can't afford to just sit back and wait for the market to turn around. They need to adapt quickly to today's new business environment and fine-tune their business practices to maximize their competitiveness.

TIMELY HELP To help builders cope with the realities of the market, the NAHB has developed a comprehensive new online toolkit geared to provide useful information that will help builders prosper despite the downturn.

“Back to Basics: NAHB's Toolkit for a Changing Environment” was created by the NAHB to provide some time-tested ideas, innovative solutions, and other useful tools for builders to consider as part of a comprehensive strategy for adjusting their company's operations to today's changing market dynamics.

The toolkit contains some 150 articles on subjects that include: construction financing, financing tools to help sell homes, measuring and benchmarking financial and business performance, improving business profitability, market research, advertising, marketing campaigns, new-home sales techniques, the Internet as an innovative sales tool, and diversifying into different fields. Also in the kit are statistics from research by NAHB economists and U.S. government agencies.

The kit gives members a step-by-step rundown of how to evaluate their company's position in the marketplace and the many factors affecting that position, investigate options, identify those that are most appropriate, and develop a plan of action. Resources in the kit will be expanded on an ongoing basis, and a feedback form in the kit provides the opportunity for members to make suggestions and ask questions.

CUSTOM FIT I'm very proud of this new product because it provides members with valuable information they can apply to their own situations to ensure that they respond appropriately to the realities of a market in flux.

Providing valuable services to members is the NAHB's No. 1 mandate, and this new toolkit definitely fulfills that responsibility. I urge you to check out the toolkit, identify useful information, and put a plan into action.

Remember that this is a dynamic, living product that can evolve over time, as member needs change. So be sure to let the NAHB staff know if there are additional materials you want to see included in the toolkit, and don't forget to let fellow members know about this great new resource!

You can access “Back to Basics: NAHB's Toolkit for a Changing Environment” at kit or by clicking the “Resources” button on the main menu at If you need assistance or have any questions, the NAHB Member Service Center is just a phone call away at 800-368-5242.

President, NAHB Washington, D.C.