I am proud and honored to serve as NAHB’s chairman this year. In being elected to head NAHB, I am following in the footsteps of the founder of my company, the late Leon N. Weiner, who was NAHB’s president in 1967.
Of course, today’s housing market is vastly different from the market of 1967, and the issues we will be addressing are different as well.
Among our priorities will be protecting the mortgage interest deduction, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), and other housing provisions in the tax code. It’s no secret that some people on Capitol Hill would like to eliminate or dramatically reduce these important tax measures. And as lawmakers continue their sporadic efforts to reform the tax code, any or all of them could come under fire.
The NAHB has worked hard to position the association to be highly engaged in any debates that occur, and we are prepared to defend the mortgage interest deduction, the LIHTC, and all other housing-related tax provisions.
We also will continue to build on the progress we have made toward ensuring that appraisals accurately reflect true market value of new homes and to ensure that affordable long-term, fixed-rate mortgages are readily available to home buyers and multifamily builders.
Restructuring the housing finance system is a priority for Congress, and during that process, the NAHB will advocate strongly for a federal backstop to the housing finance system. Without such a backstop—which would be triggered only by an extreme emergency—it is likely that mortgages would be more expensive, and the 30-year fixed rate mortgage might disappear all together.
Fighting onerous regulations that impede new-home construction and remodeling but provide no benefit to home buyers or owners also will continue to be a priority for the NAHB. On Capitol Hill, in the regulatory agencies and in the courts, we will be vigilant in the effort to prevent or minimize the impact of the regulations that can leach the life out of our industry without providing measurable benefits to buyers.
All of these issues can have a direct and significant impact on a builder’s bottom line. They can drive up the cost of new construction or remodeling. They can make it harder and more costly for consumers to get financing, make owning a home more expensive, and ultimately result in fewer new-home sales. They translate into dollars and cents on a company balance sheet, and that’s why they are the focus of NAHB’s efforts.
While these issues reflect our legislative and regulatory priorities for 2014, they are by no means our only concerns. The NAHB exists to serve its members’ needs, and that means providing the support services that help to set our members apart from their competition and help them excel. Education, networking opportunities, and assistance with best business practices are just some of the ways that the NAHB helps its members work smarter and better.
This year, we will continue to expand and refine our efforts for maximum value and efficiency. We also will work to provide members with the information that they need to comply with the Affordable Care Act when the regulations applying to employers go into effect in January 2015. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the legislation, and it is very important to help our members understand what is required so they do not incur unnecessary costs.
I joined the NAHB early in my home building career when I realized what a great value it provides for members. My assessment of NAHB’s value to members hasn’t changed during more than three decades of membership, and I’m pleased to note that in recent years we have been able to quantify that value.
In 2013, NAHB victories saved members more than $6,200 per housing start, including both single-family and multifamily homes.
I’m looking forward to leading the NAHB as we strive to provide similar value in 2014.