New Home Sales Jump in May as Housing Continues Rebound
In another sign that the housing market is rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 16.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 676,000 units in May, according to newly released data from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.
However, the April data was downwardly revised to a 580,000 pace, likely marking the low point of sales for the current recession. The April pace was 25% lower than the peak, pre-recession rate set in January.
Sales were likely supported by price incentive use in April, with NAHB data indicating that two out of 10 builders used such business strategies. However, the use of price incentives eased in May, as median new home prices increased to $317,900, a gain of almost 2%, year-over-year.
A new home sale occurs when a sales contract is signed or a deposit is accepted.
The home can be in any stage of the
construction process: not yet started, under construction or completed.
Regionally, new home sales were up in all four regions: 6.8% in the Northeast, 9.5% in the Midwest, 0.3% in the South, and 1.4% in the West.
The gains for new home sales are consistent with the NAHB forecast that housing will lead any economic recovery.
NEC Code Adoption Kits Now Available
The National Fire Protection Association last year issued its most recent edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). States are now in the process
of adopting this most recent set of electrical codes.
NAHB staff has reviewed the code changes and has made available the 2020 National Electrical Code Adoption Kit that identifies the significant changes that would most impact the home building industry.
New WOTUS Rule
Now in Effect
The “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” (NWPR), which includes the Trump Administration’s new definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), is now in effect.
NAHB has posted resources to help builders and devel- opers make use of the new rule. Visit nahb.org/wotus for updated resources, includ- ing an analysis of the rule, a video on its implementation, and an overview that explains key features and changes compared to prior rules.
SEBC 2020 Virtual Courses
SEBC 2020 Re-Imagined includes 18 hours of FREE, live virtual instruction, including 14 hours of CILB CE credit that can be earned July 29-31, 2020. In addition, SEBC speakers have come together to create a virtual course library of professional development webinars and SEBC will launch the 2020 Virtual Exhibitor Showcase featuring SEBC Exhibitors, BEX Companies, New Southern Home Vendors and more!
President Suspends H-2B Work Visas
Citing job losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump has issued a proclamation extending his existing ban on immigrant visas and further suspending work visas through the end of the year, including H-2B visas used by employers in the construction industry.
As a result of the president's executive order, if NAHB members were expecting an H-2B worker and that person does not have a travel document and has not yet arrived in the Unites States, they will not be able to come this year.
A Win on Infectious Disease Guidance
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a petition by labor unions, led by the AFL-CIO, to compel OSHA to issue an “emergency temporary standard” to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
The court agreed with OSHA’s position that the agency should determine if a standard is necessary and that OSHA’s decision to issue nonbinding, industry- specific guidance rather than an enforceable rule to protect workers from COVID-19 was sufficient. NAHB had filed an amicus brief supporting OSHA's position.
At the conclusion of NAHB's recent Spring Leadership Meetings, Chairman Dean Mon informed the Board of Directors he would be unable to complete the remain- er of his term due to personal reasons and was resigning his chairmanship.
Mon will continue to be an active member of the Federation, providing guidance to both NAHB leadership and members going forward. His leadership this year during the COVID-19 pandemic helped position the housing industry as an essential business that allowed NAHB members to continue working.
Effective immediately, NAHB First Vice Chairman Chuck Fowke, a custom home builder from Tampa, Fla., will take on the duties of chairman. His chairmanship will continue through the 2022 International Builders’ Show, Feb. 8-10 in Orlando.
Immediate Past Chairman Greg Ugalde will continue his duties as past chair during this same time period. Jerry Konter, of Savannah, Ga., will remain Second Vice Chair and Alicia Huey, of Birmingham, Ala., Third Vice Chair until the next senior officer election takes place at the 2021 Builders’ Show in Orlando on Feb. 11, 2021.
Office Reopening Guidance
OSHA has issued guidance to assist employers reopening business offices and their employees returning to work during the evolving coronavirus pandemic.
The guidance provides general principles for easing restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus through the use of phased reopenings. During each phase of the process, employers should continue to focus on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, work-
place controls and flexibilities, and employee training.
NAHB members are reminded to check with their state and local officials on occupancy and other restrictions. OSHA notes that all local and state orders should be followed before reopening begins.
Charlie Cook Previews Election
The race for the White House centers on President Trump, political pundit Charlie Cook told
NAHB's Leadership Council during its spring meeting.
“An incumbent president is a referendum election,” said Cook. “Do we want to renew his contract for four years? Yes or no. Usually the challenger has nothing to do with it.”
Cook, who worked in NAHB’s political shop in the early 1980s and is editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, said that more than three-quarters of Americans strongly approve or disapprove of Trump and “there is just not a lot of ambivalence in between.”
NAHB Announces New Chairman of the Board