Editor's note: This column is reprinted from the Winter 2014 edition of Oklahoma Builder magazine
By Todd Booze
As we approach the end of 2014 and everyone's focus has turned to the holidays and spending time with family and friends, we should be grateful for our industry and all that it has provided for us this year.
While many across the United States had expected this year to be a break out year for homebuilding, it looks like overall housing starts in Oklahoma are going to be slightly down from prior year's activity.
With that being said, most indicators that traditionally predict market conditions remain positive across the state related to housing inventory and job creation.
If there is one concern echoed across the nation, it's the rapidly increasing cost of housing due to replacement lots, materials and the tight labor force. The main concern is that incomes have not been increasing at the pace of housing costs and that is starting to impact affordability indexes.
While Oklahoma continues to be one of the more affordable markets in the country, it is certainly something to keep your eyes on in years to come as most predict mortgage rates will be increasing.
As my term is quickly coming to an end, I want to reflect on one of our main focuses over the last couple of years -- increasing the value of our membership.
I would like to start by thanking all of you who have been involved with the Association whether it's at the local, state or national levels. Frequently, your efforts go unnoticed and unappreciated. Thank you for your commitment to our industry and for taking time away from your business and family.
I would especially like to thank Immediate Past State President Jeff Click, Treasurer Phil Rhees and Secretary Kurt Dinnes; Build PAC Trustee Brandon Perkins, Insurance Committee Chair Roger Gose, CPB Committee Chair Dusty Johnston and Code Committee Chair Curtis McCarty; Local Presidents John Hallaway (Bartlesville), Brett Knapp (Rogers County), Tim Lederer (SWOKHBA), Steve Allen (COHBA), Bob Thompson (BASCO), Brandon Jackson (Tulsa), John Jennings (Moore), Brian Stedman (SOBA), Roger Gose (Stillwater), Lindell Newman (Enid) and Jake Clanin (Shawnee).
Also, I would like to extend our thanks from all Builders to our Associate Members.
The Associate Members play a vital role at local and state levels, from participation on the Board of Directors to various committees that support our builders and the Association. The leadership they provide is greatly appreciated and if not for them many things we do, from education and the Parade of Homes events would not be possible. So next time you see an Associate, give him or her a hug!
These Associates have had a leadership role on the state level: Gina Cox, Chair; Steve Sullivan, Vice Chair; Vanessa Shadix, Treasurer; and Steve Taylor, Secretary; Regional representatives: Mark Priess, Chris Evans, Laurie Matthews, Titian Burris and Randy Chambers.
When your renewal for membership comes due and you're wondering if writing that check is worth it, I want you to think about all the people behind the Association that give of themselves to maintain a positive and productive environment for us to operate. Can you imagine what the conditions would be like if not for the efforts of all past and present active members of our Association?
I can tell you from my past 24 years in this industry, my perception of what the Homebuilder Association does changed once I got involved. From the words of one of our state's past great leaders Mark Dale, "If we don't have a seat at the table, we may find ourselves on the menu!"
This could not be truer from work at the state level with our legislators and the relationships that have been developed at the local levels with municipal government. So whether you have the time or ability to help with Association affairs, know that the cost of membership dues is one of the best investments you can make in our industry.
I would also like to encourage all of our members to be more supportive financially of our advocacy efforts.
At the national level, NAHB's lobbying efforts have saved thousands of dollars on the cost of housing by preventing intrusive legislation by the EPA and working on National Building Codes. Sometimes, it is difficult for local members to make a connection to what goes on in D.C., but if not for the efforts of our NAHB staff over the last few years, the landscape would look drastically different.
We are proud of what Oklahoma has done in terms of supporting Build PAC. We are recognized nationally as one of the highest contributing states per capita of members. However, we need to do more. Nationally, all of our PAC funds come from approximately 5 percent of our membership. While our state participation rate is slightly better, it is far from where it should be!
In addition, when we exceed our National Build PAC goal, 50 percent of those funds come back to the state to use to support industry friendly legislators. If we could get every member to give $1 a day, that would raise approximately $875K, 15 times more than we do now.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Dan Reeves with Landmark Fine Homes, our new addition to the State Ladder. Along with Dan, Kurt Dinnes and Phil Rhees, I can assure you our leadership of the State Association is as strong as ever and will remain focused on the issues most important to you and our industry.
Thank you and it was a pleasure to serve our State Association.