Homebuilders' Group Wants Trump to Act to Halt Lumber Price Surge

September 14, 2020
Tom Ichniowski - Engineering News-Record

With lumber prices rising sharply, the National Association of Home Builders wants the Trump administration to take steps to halt or reverse the costly trend.

Mr. Ichniowski may be contacted at ichniowskit@enr.com

Mortgage Rates in U.S. Slide Back Below 3% for 30-Year Loans

September 7, 2020
Craig Giammona - Bloomberg

Mortgage rates have once again dipped below 3%.

The average for a 30-year fixed loan was 2.99%, just off the record low set two weeks ago, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday. Rates had ticked up to 3.01% last week.

Want More Housing? Ending Single-Family Zoning Won’t Do It.

August 31, 2020
Emily Hamilton - Bloomberg

Before Covid-19 took hold of the national consciousness, the YIMBY movement — of those saying “Yes In My Backyard” to housing development — appeared ready to go mainstream. More and more people recognized that NIMBYism run amok and codified into local laws leads to fewer housing options, drastically raising prices in cities and towns alike, and contributing to inequality. Now, in a time of pandemic-driven budget cuts and unemployment, the importance of housing affordability is growing.

U.S. June New-Home Sales Surge to Highest in Almost 13 Years

August 24, 2020
Vince Golle & Maeve Sheehey - Bloomberg

New-home sales in the U.S. increased to an almost 13-year high in June, fueled by record-low borrowing costs and adding to evidence that residential real estate is a bright spot for the economy.

Purchases of new single-family houses climbed 13.8% to a 776,000 annualized pace after an upwardly revised May increase of 19.4%, government data showed Friday. The June pace exceeded all economists’ forecasts in a Bloomberg survey that had a median estimate of 700,000. The median selling price rose 5.6% from a year earlier to $329,200 as inventory shrank.

U.S. Homebuilder Optimism Continues Recovery as Buyers Return

August 17, 2020
Olivia Rockeman - Bloomberg

U.S. homebuilders’ outlook improved in July and is back at pre-pandemic levels as the housing market continued to lure buyers looking for more space and attracted by record-low interest rates.

A gauge of builder sentiment jumped to a preliminary 72, a 14-point gain from June, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected a reading of 61. A rating above 50 is considered positive. July’s increase followed a 21-point uptick in June.

Home Construction Starts Jumped in June, Buoying Builders

August 10, 2020
Prashant Gopal - Bloomberg

U.S. home construction starts rose 17% in June, with builders ramping up production as lockdowns eased.

Residential starts jumped to an annualized rate of 1.19 million, according to a government report released Friday. That matched the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey. The month-over-month increase was the biggest since October 2016, while the rate remains 4% below the level in June 2019.

Mortgage Rates Slip to Record Low 2.98% for 30-Year Loans

August 3, 2020
Prashant Gopal - Bloomberg

Mortgage rates are searching for the floor.

The average for a 30-year fixed loan fell to 2.98%, slipping below a psychological threshold that could fuel even more demand for housing.

Rates dropped to the lowest level in almost 50 years of record-keeping by Freddie Mac for the third straight week and the seventh time since the coronavirus outbreak began roiling financial markets. The tumble came as the Federal Reserve holds its benchmark rate near zero and buys mortgage bonds as part of its plan to stimulate the economy.

Embedding Better Urban Living – An Interview with Annalise Johns

July 27, 2020
Aarni Heiskanen - AEC Business

We sat down with Annalise Johns, Housing Lead of Connected Places Catapult to find out a little more about her work in the built environment, health, and regeneration. We discussed the challenges facing those operating in the industry, and what COVID-19 has revealed about how the sector is structured.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what got you interested in design for human health?

My first master’s thesis focused on best practice liveable residential high density. I studied the Vancouver example which was one of the first places to explore the best way to extract developer contributions to maximize amenities for the local community. It’s an excellent example of embedding health into planning and how appropriate levels of density contribute to healthy communities if designed appropriately.

Mr. Heiskanen may be contacted at aec-business@aepartners.fi

Churches Are Building Housing Developments ‘in God’s Back Yard’

July 20, 2020
Alex Wittenberg - Bloomberg

The Arlington Presbyterian Church in Virginia was dealing with declining Sunday attendance, and fewer donations, before deciding to turn to an affordable housing developer for help. In 2016, with membership down to about 60 from a height of 1,000 in the 1950s, the church sold its century-old sanctuary to the nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH). The developer razed the church and built a seven-story, 173-unit affordable complex in its place, allowing the congregation to escape increasing costs while fulfilling an obligation to care for the poor. Today, the church leases space on the ground floor of the building to serve its congregants.

Face-Covering Policy Remains Flexible As Hoar Construction Confronts Two Virus-Troubled Projects

July 13, 2020
Richard Korman - Engineering News-Record

This spring, Hoar Construction has found itself on both sides of the face-covering challenge.
As guidance on virus protections for workers evolved during the spring, contractors in many parts of the U.S. chose or were compelled by state or local rules or unions to go beyond federal guidance and require workers to use a face covering of some kind on the jobsite.

Richard Korman, Engineering News-Record

Mr. Korman may be contacted at kormanr@enr.com

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Will Affordable Housing Ever Come Back to Colorado?

July 6, 2020
David M. McLain – Colorado Construction Litigation

Prior to the Great Recession, condominiums and townhomes accounted for approximately 26%-27% of all permits pulled along the Front Range, and were referred to as “affordable housing,” meaning that you could find homes that were inexpensive or reasonably priced. Now that term has all but disappeared, to be replaced by “attainable housing.” In other words, it is possible to become a homeowner in Colorado, but it is by no means affordable.

To encourage more condominium and townhome construction, then-Gov. John Hickenlooper signed HB 17-1279 into law on May 23, 2017. Thereafter, the market has been waiting to see when affordable housing would make a resurgence. Unfortunately, it does not look like that will be happening any time soon.

Mr. McLain may be contacted at mclain@hhmrlaw.com

U.S. Pending Home Sales Post Record Gain, Exceed All Forecasts

June 29, 2020
Maeve Sheehey – Bloomberg

Contract signings to purchase previously owned U.S. homes surged in May by the most on record as mortgage rates fell and some states began to reopen from coronavirus lockdowns.

The National Association of Realtors’ index of pending home sales increased 44.3% to a three-month high of 99.6, after falling in April to the lowest level in records back to 2001. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 19.3% gain in May. Even with the outsize advance, the index is below the pre-pandemic high of 111.4, reached in February.

U.S. Homebuilder Optimism Makes Record Gain as Buyers Return

June 22, 2020
John Gittelsohn – Bloomberg

U.S. homebuilders’ outlook improved in June as record-low interest rates and demand for more space spurred buyers to re-emerge after the coronavirus shut down sales and construction.

A gauge of builder sentiment jumped to 58, a 21-point gain from May, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Analysts expected a reading of about 46, the average of 37 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. A rating above 50 is considered positive. June’s increase was the biggest on record for the index and followed a seven-point uptick in May.

Housing Market Has Been Surprisingly Active During Lockdown

June 15, 2020
Prashant Gopal - Bloomberg

Stuck day and night in their homes, a surprising number of Americans are deciding the pandemic is a great time to upgrade.

That's how it looks to Lee Whitaker, vice president of Pacesetter Homes. After the coronavirus shutdown, the small Texas homebuilder braced for the worst. And it came: Business plunged in April. Then in May, something unexpected happened. Sales were 30% above the company's own pre-crisis forecast for the month.

Homebuilder ETF Soars to Pre-Crisis Level on Sales Surprise

June 8, 2020
Claire Ballentine - Bloomberg

The largest homebuilder ETF surged to pre-crisis levels on data showing a surprise increase in sales of new houses last month.

State Street's SPDR S&P Homebuilders exchange-traded fund, ticker XHB, rallied as much as 4.6% to the highest level since March 6. Purchases of single-family houses in the U.S. unexpectedly climbed in April after sales dropped the most since 2013 in March, when much of the U.S. economy shut down to stem the spread of coronavirus.

U.S. Homebuilders Defy Expectations With Gain in New-Home Sales

June 1, 2020
Prashant Gopal, Bloomberg

Last decade, housing crashed the U.S. economy. But in the 2020 pandemic, it could be one of the bright spots.

New home sales unexpectedly climbed 0.6% in April to a 623,000 annualized pace, government data showed Tuesday. That was 30% higher than the median forecast in a Bloomberg Survey of economists of 480,000. The news sent the shares of homebuilders surging, with an index that tracks the industry hitting the highest level since March 9.

U.S. Homebuilder Sentiment Advances After Worst Slump Ever

May 25, 2020
Vince Golle - Bloomberg

U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose in May by more than forecast following a record slump a month earlier as a pickup in sales and demand expectations pointed to stabilization in the real estate market.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index increased by 7 points to 37, according to data Monday. In April, the gauge plummeted 42 points, the most in records to 1985. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 35 in May. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Another Reason to be Careful Before Walking

May 18, 2020
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

We have discussed issues that may arise in the context of a residential construction project. Because most homeowners are not sophisticated in the ways of construction (and really shouldn’t be) expectations are key and keeping your nose clean as a contractor is key. Courts in some instances will lean toward the party that they deem to be less sophisticated, i. e. the homeowner, so doing anything, such as walking from a job under anything but the worst circumstances, can be very detrimental after the fact.

Recently, the Norfolk, Virginia Circuit Court gave us another reason to stay on the straight and narrow. In Builders By Design v. Wilson the Court looked at a relatively typical scenario in residential construction. The Wilson’s contracted for the construction of an addition and renovation to their home. During the course of construction, changes to the scope and price of work took place with more or less contention. Without any warning and before the construction was complete, the homeowners sent an e-mail to Builders By Design stating that it should cease work and not enter the property without the Wilson’s express written permission.

Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com

Covid-19 May Fuel Migration From High-Cost Cities, Analyst Says

May 11, 2020
Max Reyes - Bloomberg

The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting remote work boom is accelerating a “Great Migration” from expensive and tax-heavy coastal regions and major cities into more affordable states in the U.S. South and West, according to Susquehanna Financial Group.

The “forced transition” to remote work among white-collar firms will lead employers to reevaluate their approach to real estate and workforce location more broadly, analyst Jack Micenko wrote in a note published Monday.

Covid-19 Update: California Legislators Urge Bay Area Counties To Relax Restrictions On Housing Construction

May 4, 2020
Newmeyer Dillion

On April 16, 2020, sixteen California legislators urged Bay Area counties to relax the restrictions on housing construction under various shelter in place orders. Citing the desperate need to address the growing housing shortfall in California, the legislators recognized the intentions of the orders to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect workers, but suggested alternative measures to allow both goals to be met.

Newmeyer Dillion continues to follow COVID-19 and its impact on your business and our communities. Feel free to reach out to us at NDcovid19response@ndlf.com or visit us at www.newmeyerdillion.com/covid-19-multidisciplinary-task-force/.

About Newmeyer Dillion
For 35 years, Newmeyer Dillion has delivered creative and outstanding legal solutions and trial results that achieve client objectives in diverse industries. With over 70 attorneys working as a cohesive team to represent clients in all aspects of business, employment, real estate, environmental/land use, privacy & data security and insurance law, Newmeyer Dillion delivers holistic and integrated legal services tailored to propel each client's success and bottom line. Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, with offices in Walnut Creek, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, Newmeyer Dillion attorneys are recognized by The Best Lawyers in America©, and Super Lawyers as top tier and some of the best lawyers in California and Nevada, and have been given Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review's AV Preeminent® highest rating. For additional information, call 949.854.7000 or visit www.newmeyerdillion.com.

U.S. Home-Building Permits Rise to Highest Since 2007

April 27, 2020
Reade Pickert - Bloomberg

U.S. new-home construction remained robust in January and applications to build jumped to the highest level since 2007 as low mortgage rates and a solid labor market continued to fuel housing demand.

Residential starts slipped 3.6% to a 1.57 million annualized rate, still the second-fastest pace of the expansion, after an upwardly revised 1.63 million pace in the prior month, according to government figures released Wednesday. January starts exceeded the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Permits, a proxy for future construction, advanced 9.2% to a 1.55 million rate, the highest since March 2007.

Are COVID-19 Claims Covered by Builders Risk Insurance Policies?

April 20, 2020
Cheryl L. Kozdrey - Saxe Doernberger & Vita

If you are an attorney, insurance broker, or other professional representing developers and contractors, then your clients have likely reached out with concerns about losses related to COVID-19. One common question is whether there is potential coverage under builders risk insurance policies.

Ms. Kozdrey may be contacted at clk@sdvlaw.com

Governor Gavin Newsom Orders a Limited State-Wide Eviction Freeze for California Residential Tenants

April 13, 2020
J. Kyle Janecek - Newmeyer Dillion

Governor Gavin Newsom just passed an order that effectively creates an eviction freeze for residential tenants in California who are unable to pay rent as a result of changed finances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has taken the form of Executive Order N-37-20, which will remain in effect through May 31, 2020.

The Order raises a number of questions however, including when the Order applies, how it affects evictions, and whether it overrides local measures currently in effect.

Mr. Janecek may be contacted at kyle.janecek@ndlf.com

Work Halted at Boston Project Despite Loophole in Shutdown Order

April 6, 2020
Scott Van Voorhis - Engineering News-Record

A major waterfront construction site in Boston that managed to avoid the city’s shutdown on building activity amid the coronavirus is now closing up shop. The apparent shutdown puts an end to what had become a glaring leak in Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s city-wide quarantine.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com


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