For over 60 years, the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) has held PCBC—an annual trade show and conference for the residential building community that features hundreds of exhibitors, keynote speakers, and educational sessions.

Founded originally as a regional conference for home builders in California, PCBC has grown to attract attendees and exhibitors from across the country and around the world.

As registrants count down the days until the event, scheduled for May 24 and 25 in Anaheim, BUILDER caught up with CBIA president and CEO Dan Dunmoyer, who shared some insights with us.

BUILDER: What can people expect from this year’s PCBC?

Dunmoyer: It's a lot more targeted on the future. PCBC is trying to become the place you go to find out where the industry is going and where the policymakers that impact the industry are changing the focus on the building community.

We see PCBC as the opportunity for people to see what are the new trends. What's the new science? What's the new focus of California in the area of land use and home building? And then how do you as a builder or a practitioner—whether you're a manufacturer or someone on our exhibit floor—how can you learn about it? And how can you better prepare for where California is planning to take the industry and the building community as a whole?

We’re excited about who's been invited, who's participating, who's speaking on educational forums, and our keynote speakers, but also about our breakout sessions that encompass that future view of where we're trying to go as an industry.

We are going to throw a big kind of block party and bring in some fun brewmasters and others. So, after you go through the day and you've had a good chance to see the greatest new technology and listen to great speakers, we also want to have some fun. The happiest place on Earth is just across the street, so we’re going to try to bring some of that to the event. We won't have Mickey Mouse because he costs too much, but ... there will be a chance for people at the end of the day to mingle and build some stronger relationships.

BUILDER: What are you personally most excited about?

Dunmoyer: For me, it's just bringing us together and the fact that it's mostly the Western United States who come. We do bring a few from Canada and a few others, but it really is kind of this gathering of people excited about building.

We bring all our CEOs from all the major companies together right before the show, so we spend time talking to them about where they see things going. The conference itself will then bring everyone together, hopefully about 8,000 to 10,000 people. And I'm excited about just having all that energy and excitement connectivity happening simultaneously.

It really is just a chance to celebrate this industry that provides what I think is the most important component of life next to food and water—a place to call home.

BUILDER: I see Kudzi Chikumbu from TikTok on the event schedule as a keynote speaker. The pandemic skyrocketed us into a digital world. Where do you see the relationship between the internet and the building industry going?

Dunmoyer: Super good question. Yeah, TikTok was the front page of The Wall Street Journal recently. Like wow, OK, at least our subject matters are really timely.

The building industry was always pretty sophisticated. I mean, most people when they start to buy a home or rent a home start with the internet. Even if they know where they generally want to live, they want to compare prices and models and other things. And that predated the pandemic. But now we've moved to this whole new level of sophistication, using digital media and other mediums to communicate. We sell homes now to people who never come visit our homes in person, which is kind of amazing.

People now are very comfortable, because you literally can walk the property, you can open doors, you can see your yard, you can see your neighborhood virtually. That experience allows people to make really good decisions and truly compare and shop. And that's a much better customer experience. It makes for a much more vibrant market.

BUILDER: In terms of the housing market, it’s been an interesting few years with a lot of shifts and changes. What do you think builders can or should do to adapt in an unpredictable market?

Dunmoyer: A few weeks ago, I never thought people would say, “I'm going to buy a house because it's safer than a bank.” That sounds like 1938 or 1929. Not even 2008, let alone 2023. So, you know, even with higher interest rates, a house may still be the safest investment you can make if you have cash. If you don't have cash, it's harder. It's a higher cost of two times more to buy the same home you could buy 18 months ago because of fluctuating rates.

So, we do see the market shifting, but it's been still very stable. Just a few days ago, I was talking to our major builders about their inventory, and they said they have almost nothing in inventory. Bam, everything has been sold.

Four months ago, they were freaking out, saying, “We projected 50% less sales in 2023 than 2022.” Now they're like, “Hey, can we speed this up?” So, it is trending positively. It is stabilizing and improving. And it's beating all the projections builders made in the last quarter of last year in a positive way.

So, we are seeing a generally optimistic move—cautiously optimistic, but still, we're selling and we're building.

BUILDER: With all of this in mind, where do you see the future of housing going?

Dunmoyer: I still see the demand for our product, both for-sale and for-rent, to be through the roof. In California, specifically, we need another two and a half million homes. People still want new homes. If they can afford new and find new, that's their preference.

It's kind of fun. Because the new homes built today are really modern, they have a lot of great technology. You can open your doors from Hawaii and close your garage from Maryland, if you live in California. They're super energy efficient as well. So, you can really get an amazing product that I think people are very excited about.

We still are going to struggle nationally, and in California especially, in meeting that demand. It's costing us more to produce a home than it used to just two years ago. And there's only so many Americans who can afford the average price of a home. In California, the average is about $800,000. So, delivering a price point that actually works for Californians is our biggest challenge.

But most of the people we talk to, no matter what age they are or where their income level is, say that they would love to have the opportunity to own a home. That's the American dream. That's how you can build equity. That's how you create social equity. Housing is still the great equalizer and opportunity tool for Americans. And so that for that reason, we're very excited about it.