I’m proud to be quarterbacking the NAHB team in 2013. Since I became chairman-elect in the fall, many people have asked about my objectives for the year. That’s easy: my goals are NAHB’s goals.
One of NAHB’s strengths is that the chairman does not adopt a new agenda when he takes office. The priorities remain the same, and the senior leadership works together to serve members’ best interests at the national level and provide support for the efforts of local and state HBAs. This strategy enhances NAHB’s effectiveness and credibility while increasing its chances of success in dealing with complex legislative and regulatory issues.
In 2013, one of those issues will be protecting the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and other critical housing tax incentives. Despite housing’s important role in the economy, the MID may be at risk as Congress tackles tax reform. The NAHB has already laid the groundwork for protecting the MID through a nationwide campaign that demonstrated its value and the depth of public and political support for the housing tax incentives that support homeownership. We are ready to apply pressure if threats to the MID further materialize.
Another priority will be moving the ball forward on reforming the nation’s flawed appraisal system, which is inhibiting the housing recovery by blocking some home sales and destabilizing values. The NAHB has taken the lead on addressing this problem and has been working with other industry stakeholders to reform the system so that appraisals more accurately reflect the value of the subject property.
With Congress preparing to address the future of the nation’s housing finance system and the government-sponsored enterprises, we also will focus on making sure that any restructuring provides for a reliable flow of credit for home buyers and that the federal government plays an appropriate role in backing up the housing finance system.
Because an adequate supply of reasonably priced credit is essential to our industry, the NAHB also will try to ensure that sufficient credit is available for both new-home construction and for prospective home buyers. Also, overly restrictive qualified residential mortgage standards have the potential to significantly slow the housing market, make mortgages more expensive for buyers, and prevent many prospective buyers from purchasing a home.
Barring an unexpected economic or housing crisis, we are likely to be working toward these goals in an improved housing environment. The NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index, which indicates how many housing markets are on the mend, and the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, which measures builder sentiment about the market, have both shown significant improvement over the past year. Despite these improvements, it’s important to remember that all housing markets are local, and not all are sharing equally in the upturn.
An improving market means increased demand for workers, so the NAHB also will be pursuing immigration reform that provides for a guest worker program and ensures that builders don’t face onerous worker verification requirements.
As we work on these issues, we will be making ongoing improvements to our communications platforms to better reach members at all levels. And to maximize our effectiveness as an association, we will look at ways to further enhance non-dues revenue. We are open to new ideas, and we welcome your participation in this and any other association endeavor.
As we continue our proactive efforts in 2013, we will keep you informed about the progress we make on our priority issues. Most important, NAHB staff will continue to work diligently on behalf of their members. Rest assured, we won’t just be standing on the sidelines.