From Staff Reports

With lumber tariffs already adding more than $6,000 to the price of every new home in Dallas, President Trump’s decision this month to escalate the trade conflict with China has builders bracing for more challenges to housing affordability. This decision could wind up imposing a $2.5 billion tax increase on residential construction, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Trump announced he is moving immediately to impose 10 percent tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including $10 billion of goods used by the home building industry. This 10 percent levy represents a $1 billion tax increase on residential construction. Making matters even worse, the tax hike will rise to $2.5 billion on Jan. 1 when the president said the tariff rate will jump to 25 percent if the two nations have not resolved their differences by year end. If China retaliates, Trump has vowed to place tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of imports. The NAHB has strongly opposed this move.

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When Mark Law took his job as the vice president of product innovation for HomLuv, it necessitated a move to Austin from Seattle. His wife was still in Seattle, in fact, when the couple also became one of HomLuv’s earliest users.

HomLuv.com is a visual search platform for new home buyers that takes the joy of Pinterest and Houzz and the practicality of your budget to make a tool that takes some of the hardest parts of picking a home builder and makes them disappear.

“We found that many people will use Pinterest and other sites and they’re putting million dollar photos of rooms they like, and then they are disappointed when they can’t get it because it’s out of their budget,” Law said.

HomLuv is different because users can log on to the site (which went live today) and page through pictures of kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and even garages — all filtered by the prospective homebuyer’s budget, square footage desires, number of bedrooms wanted, and more. (more…)

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

In the midst of a labor shortage of nearly 20,000 construction workers in our area, the Dallas Builders Association is looking for young people to enter into an industry that desperately needs them. Much of our outreach has centered on our area’s vocational trade school programs. These are the same programs President Trump called to expand during last month’s State of the Union Address. They are also where about three in every four students are “Dreamers,” otherwise known as eligible recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), whose status is very much in limbo ahead of President Trump’s March 5 deadline to end the program in the absence of Congressional action.

Their future and the future of the housing industry are inextricably linked.

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Many home buyers value mature trees, but sometimes removal is warranted. HB7, now signed into law, regulates the fees imposed for tree removal.

By Phil Crone
Dallas Builders Association Executive Officer

Governor Greg Abbott on Aug. 16 signed House Bill 7 into law ending a long and tumultuous road that the measure took prior to his signature. The legislation, authored by State Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Port Neches) and State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), enables property owners to receive mitigation credits to offset tree mitigation fees imposed by municipalities. The new law, effective Dec. 1, is very similar to HB 744, which was vetoed by the Governor in June.

Many Texas cities regulate the removal of trees from private property as development occurs. Often, this takes the form of a fee paid by the property owner to the city as a condition for permitted removal of the tree from private property. The methods and valuation used to calculate tree removal fees vary greatly among municipalities. In some cases, these fees can approach the figure paid by the property owner to acquire the property to begin with and render development financially infeasible.  
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Hurricane Harvey put many previously safe areas underwater. If you’ve never coped with rebuilding from a flood, the Dallas Builders Association has some advice.

By Phil Crone
Special Contributor

The Dallas Builders Association extends its heartfelt thoughts to our friends on the coast who are suffering from the wrath and devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. To help those affected, please text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross or visit redcross.org.

While storms of this magnitude bring out the best in most, they can bring out the worst in others. Often this comes in the form of unscrupulous contractors from out of state who follow major weather events looking for work. Sadly, the damage left in their wake is usually financial, adding to the suffering of storm victims.

Please use the information below as a guide on how to rebuild with confidence. Additional information is available through the Texas Association of Builders and the Greater Houston Builders Association.

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By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

Everyone loves trees, so why are they so controversial? They are the focus of years of back and forth in the Texas legislature and the subject of intense debate at several city halls and neighborhood meetings in the Dallas area.

It may come as a surprise to some that when you purchase land, the city can require that trees come at an additional cost if they must be removed to make way for your home site. If you happen to be building in South Dallas, the cost for tree removal can approach or exceed the price of the land itself. These fees do not come from the world’s most expensive logging company; instead, they come in the form of mitigation fees assessed by the city based on the size and species of the trees that need to be removed.

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Tesla Solar Roof

All photos courtesy of Tesla

If you’ve assumed Tesla Solar roofs would be priced sky high, prepare to be amazed.

The company opened up ordering last week and they priced, on average, at $21.85 per square foot. That’s less than the cost of a regular roof, taking into consideration the energy savings over a 30-year period.

These roofs aren’t 100 percent solar tiles — they’re a mix of non-active tiles and active solar tiles, depending on the energy needs of a house. Non-active tiles cost $11 per square foot; active solar tiles cost $42 per square foot. So for a house needing 35 percent solar panels, the cost works out to $21.85 per square foot. There are lots of variables in determining the percentage of active tiles, of course, like the location of the home and shape and height of the roof.

To put this in perspective, Consumer Reports estimated that a solar roof needs to be $24.50 per square foot to be competitive with other kinds of roofing materials.

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New House under Construction

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer
Dallas Builders Association

Labor, Land, and Local regulation add up to the three “L’s” of Dallas’s affordability crisis. On April 25, the Trump administration added a fourth “L” — Lumber — to that equation when they announced plans to impose duties of up to 24 percent on most Canadian lumber. The most recent agreement between the two nations expired on Oct. 12, 2015, and was followed by a one-year cooling off period before a new agreement could be negotiated.

Before the tariff, the other three “L’s” accounted for much of the $100,000 premium on new home prices when compared to the existing market. Now, the escalation of a decades-long trade dispute between the United States and Canada is making matters worse. The industry knew that striking a new agreement would have its challenges when the cooling off period ended in October, but few predicted those challenges would include Donald Trump and his protectionist stance on trade finding their way into the White House the following month.

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