A freak hail storm a few years ago completely wrecked the tile roofs of the historic Swiss Avenue neighborhood. (Photo: Amy Curry)

A freak hail storm a few years ago completely wrecked the tile roofs of the historic Swiss Avenue neighborhood. (Photo: Amy Curry)

By Phil Crone
Special Contributor

Make no mistake, storm season in North Texas can be a scary experience, even for lifelong residents. Especially this time of year, we are no strangers to hearing the eerie wail of tornado sirens or posting photos of hail that confirm to the rest of the nation that everything is bigger in Texas.

For storm victims, the scariest thing next to the storm itself is cleaning up and getting their lives back on track. These fears are well founded. Smashed cars, personal belongings scattered about by Mother Nature, and leaky roofs from every subsequent rain create a feeling of vulnerability one can only imagine unless they’ve been through it themselves. Vulnerable people are the prey of the lowest of segments of our society and, in the contracting world, we call those storm chasers.

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By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

With so much of the news cycle focusing on Washington, D.C., many may be unaware that Texas is in the thick of a legislative session. That will certainly change soon as we approach the March 10 bill filing deadline and debate heats up on topics ranging from the budget to bathrooms. For the residential construction industry that represents more than $31 billion in economic activity and more than 702,000 jobs in the state—there is a lot on the line.

As it stands right now, our Association has more than 50 pages of bills in our “decision list,” meaning they have an impact on home building one way or another. While the Texas legislative process is designed to kill bills as opposed to passing them (the old Schoolhouse Rock Bill on Capitol Hill skit rarely has a happy ending in Austin), we nonetheless are optimistic that this session will be a positive one for the housing industry.

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home builders Bella Vita

When the homebuilders whose signs you’ve seen around your neighborhood suddenly declare bankruptcy, it can give you pause. But when news of those bankruptcies opens a floodgate of customers with unhappy experiences, prospective homebuyers begin to worry even more.

After Bella Vita Custom Homes and M. Christopher Custom Home Builder filed for bankruptcy last month, we’ve been hearing from worried folks that have been considering building a new home.

The questions were consistent: “How do I know this won’t happen to me?” and “How do I avoid choosing a bad builder?”

With that in mind, I reached out to Phil Crone, executive officer of the Dallas Builders Association, to get some advice.  I’ll also share an extra step I take when choosing a contractor that can also be applied to choosing a home builder.

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New House under Construction

A shortage of skilled workers is putting the construction industry in a bind, says Dallas Builders Association executive director Phil Crone.

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

These days, any article about President Trump, especially one that is an opinion piece, is bound to be read with a certain level of trepidation. That being said, how he addresses the labor shortage will be the barometer by which the construction industry evaluates his presidency.

Certainly, actions to peel back costly regulations are welcome and applauded, but — in the Dallas area at least — the lack of boots on the ground is currently a much larger concern than any amount of red tape.

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The Dallas Builders Association would like to address the dire shortage of skilled workers by a potential innovative partnership with Dallas ISD.

The Dallas Builders Association would like to address the dire shortage of skilled workers by a potential innovative partnership with Dallas ISD.

If you’re building a new home, or are a builder, this will come as no shock to you: It’s taking longer to get the job done, and it’s more expensive.

In fact, at a recent annual meeting, National Association of Home Builders economist Robert Dietz said this shortage was actually holding home construction growth back.

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IBS Orlando 2017

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

Heading into this year’s International Builders’ Show, I felt that the show had two things working against it: making the move from Las Vegas to Orlando, and holding the show earlier in January than usual.

Most of the people I spoke with shared my opinion that Vegas is a bit more fun than Orlando. The vibe definitely changes when the show moves to Orlando. Hotels in close proximity are hard to come by, and Pointe Orlando (essentially a mini version of the Shops at Legacy) is a less than adequate substitute for the Vegas strip. Moving the show up in the calendar a couple of weeks meant that it was right on our doorstep as soon as everyone emerged from the holiday hiatus. I think that also contributed to NAHB’s concerns about pre-registrations being down about 10 percent. When the show opened Tuesday morning, none of that mattered.

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Phil Crone dba

by Phil Crone, Executive Officer, Dallas Builder’s Association

What a year it has been! Homes are where the jobs sleep at night, and we have had added plenty of both in 2016. More than 113,000 jobs and nearly 30,000 homes lead most housing economists to rank Dallas-Fort Worth as the nation’s top housing market, snatching that title from Houston in the middle of this (almost past) year.

So with the good times rolling here more than anywhere else, what more could we ask for? Don’t get me wrong, I would gladly take these two issues over the problems we had eight years ago. They are correctable if we take ownership of them. We need to own them or else we are in serious danger of losing the affordability advantages that have been a major factor for our prosperity.

That leads me to my first wish for the Dallas housing market, that we address our labor shortage. (more…)

Tiny homes under construction at The Cottages at Hickory Crossing Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Tiny homes under construction at The Cottages at Hickory Crossing Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

We turned to local experts for guidance on what to expect and enjoy in the home building industry. This is the first in a series of posts we will run in partnership with the Dallas Builders Association, a shining star among professional organizations, whom we are honored to proudly partner with.

By Phil Crone, Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

I’m neither a Democrat or Republican, I’m a Houser. Housing affordability and the opportunity of homeownership are what our Association specializes in and the conversations are well received on BOTH sides of the aisle. Our industry has succeeded and struggled under both Democrat and Republican Presidents, and the script for our advocacy efforts is usually a predictable one depending on who occupies the White House. As pollsters and prognosticators now wearing egg on their face found out, past performance is not a predictor of future results. A Trump Presidency will be different, but the questions facing the housing market are the same, and their answers will determine the fate of our economy both here in Dallas and for our nation.

The prospect of a President Trump first entered my mind in August when he addressed our National Association of Home Builders Board in Miami. The vast majority of Trump’s speech focused on his experiences with his dad, who was a home builder, how he would pick up extra materials to use for the next job, how he valued his workers from all backgrounds, who put in a good, long, honest day’s work. He further connected with the audience when he said he knew just how much regulation was having an impact on the industry. He cited the significant increases to the cost of health care they were experiencing as a specific item he would address right away. The audience was captivated. Mr. Trump concluded the speech by accusing Secretary Clinton of being the founder of ISIS.

Guess what part of his speech made the headlines?

The last few years of the Obama administration have been pretty darn good for the Dallas-area housing market. Since homes are where the jobs sleep at night, record job growth in our region has led to a red hot real estate market where demand outpaces supply. Whether that success was because of or in spite of President Obama, I’ll leave for you do decide, but the fact of the matter is, we have a pretty strong tailwind pushing our region’s economy. But we also have several challenges. How President Trump confronts those challenges will have a “yuge” impact on our continued success.

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