President’s Message
Despite The Challenges, I’m Encouraged
By Mark Martin, 2020 NCHBA President
Mark Martin

It’s been a year I never could have imagined. When I was installed as your 2020 President, I looked forward to traveling the state and meeting many of you in person. COVID-19 altered those plans, among the many other things it’s changed this year. Despite the challenges, nine months into this pandemic I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing.

First and foremost, the housing industry –new home starts and remodeling in particular –has been incredibly resilient. If you had asked me in March for my prediction about where the industry was headed, I could not have imagined such a hopeful scenario. Even here on the Outer Banks, we are busier and have more incoming inquiries than ever.

My optimism is shared by many builders across the country. If you joined our recent virtual NCHBA Economic Forecast & Lumber Price Update with NAHB Chief Economist Rob Dietz, you heard him

report that the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) hit an all-time high of 83 in September. The HMI measures builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shifted buyers towards the suburbs and beyond. It has re-shaped attitudes about living further from major cities, because for many the daily commute is now no longer than a few steps towards the home office.

Amid this optimism, we have to be cautious. A big question right now is how the sharp rise in the price of lumber and the limited availability of some building materials will affect the market. NAHB reports that lumber prices now add an additional $16,000 to the price of a typical new single-family home.

We cannot lose sight of the fact that these price increases threaten the ability of our customers to afford that new home. The current level of home building is not sustainable with the current price of lumber. NAHB is working hard with the Trump Administration and others in Washington, DC to respond to this crisis. But members of Congress need to HEAR FROM US about the lumber crisis. NCHBA has put out several emails about how to reach out to Congress and more details are available at www.nahb.org.

Advocacy is critical to the success of our industry. If you need proof, think for a moment about how different our industry would look right now if NCHBA had not been successful in lobbying Governor Cooper to classify construction as an essential business in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other states halted construction. North Carolina stayed on the job. I am grateful for the hard work of NCHBA to have made this possible. With that said, remember that it’s critical to support NCHBA BUILD-PAC and VOTE for pro-housing candidates this November 3rd. To make a contribution, visit nchba.org/nc-build-pac. Whether your contribution is $20 or $1,000, it will make a difference.