Archive for May, 2009

By Building Experts Team

1013 45 banner build weeklyintel4 Weekly Intel: Top Links of the Week

Big Bellys will save Philly 12 million dollars

Housing not near recovery. Buffett’s real estate guy doesn’t see the green shoots.

Marketing lesson: Be naked to be social

Housing will not lead the way out of a downturn

Green LEED Associate Program receives national recognition

By Building Experts Team

Has the housing sector seen the worst of the recession? While not completely confident, first quarter results from the Multifamily Rental Market Index (MRMI) and the Mutifamily Condo Market Index (MCMI) hints that optimism has permeated the multifamily segment. A segment that many feel is responsible for much of the trouble in the housing industry (as expected, that’s not a sentiment that they share).

eastland yard 300x225 Multifamily Builder Optimism Begins To Emerge

Urban Blueprint

“Multifamily builders are beginning to see slight improvement in the current market for new rental and for-sale units, and anticipate even better times in the next six months,” said David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist. “The components of the index measuring customer interest rose significantly; the index level calls from prospective renters rose 14 points, to 50.9, and the index reflecting traffic in prospective condo buyers jumped 25 points.”

The news reported by NAHB on Tuesday also states that “the near future appears more promising to builders than any time since the first quarter of 2008.”

A recent Newsweek article does not paint the same picture of confidence, stating, “U.S. housing starts hit a record low, dropping 12.8% in April, to an annual pace of 458,000. Housing starts are down 79.9% from their peak in January 2006. A sharp drop in construction of multifamily dwellings drove the reading, with single-family starts actually up 2.8%.”

The demand for multifamily rental dwellings is still seeing high vacancy rates, however the MRMI and MCMI are reporting higher numbers for calls from prospective renters after low reporting for two consecutive quarters, including condo traffic.

David Crowe continues, “the stock of existing homes for rent and for sale is greater than the consumer demand right now, and is in direct competition with new supply. As that inventory is absorbed, and is new households form during the economic recovery, the demand for multifamily rentals will rise, and production will return to a more ‘normal’ level.”

It will be interesting to see if the next couple months continue to show the same progress in prospective renters/owners or if this confidence is just wishful thinking.

By Building Experts Team

We recently read about the new Benjamin Moore iPhone application on Charles & Hudson and it got us thinking. So we created a list of suggested iPhone applications that are cool, practical, and would help your job. We’re pretty sure that they all would work too. All of these are building related, of course. The names are subject to change, so please use your imagination for now.

  • Is it green yet? Calculates your LEED score for you during construction. (there is currently a training application for your exam)
  • Gopher. Calculate the amount of materials you need by the size of the project. Some examples include siding, decking, flooring, roofing, etc.
  • Hero Hotline. Find a subcontractor in the area and locate them through GPS.
  • In the Zone. Find everything about the area including fees, codes, ordinances, regulations, etc.
  • Carbon Counter. How big is your footprint? Chart your activities and receive a score.
  • Find a Product. Find a Distributor near your project by product availability.
  • Materials Pricing. Pretty self explanatory.
  • I Need Green. Locate green product stores, recycled building products sellers, architectural salvage yards and more.
  • Job site Trainer. A library of how-to construction articles and videos.

They already have a CAD program and the tape measure, so we crossed that off our list. And we know that there are similar applications, but they’re more general, not industry-specific. Feel free to call us out if we have duplicated resources cause it’s possible we missed something, although we looked through the database. If not, please don’t steal the great ideas from us – we’ll help you build them if you’re interested.

Got any other suggestions?

Bonus (and available applications): Top iPhone Applications for Business Professionals

By Building Experts Team

1013 45 banner build weeklyintel3 Weekly Intel: Top Links of the Week

CSR called the new “branded content”

House prices stop falling in many major metro areas, or at least slowed down; California is still struggling

The race for better building codes to reduce national energy use

Submit your entry for the World’s best architecture. It’s a safe bet that you have a better chance to win if it’s already built.

Lennar offers a new deal to buyers that remind us of the subprime mess

By Building Experts Team

Bottom line: Paid and organic search remain must-haves if you want customers to find your products and services online, yet the rules of search are ever-changing.

Here are some things to consider when working to integrate SEO and SEM into your online marketing plan:

  • What does a search strategy look like?
  • How has the maturation of the web changed search?
  • How do you use search to drive the sales funnel and generate business?

Unsure of the answers to these questions? Join us (IMRE), this Wednesday (5/20) at 11AM EST for a crash course on what is driving search today and what is coming tomorrow.

The workshop will be led by Marci DeVries, IMRE’s vice president of digital communications. An expert in digital communications with over fifteen years experience, Marci specializes in leveraging web channels for customer acquisition and revenue generation. Under Marci’s strategic counsel, countless organizations have successfully shortened their sales cycle and gained market share online. Client experience includes Fiberon, Benjamin Obdyke, ARXX, Structural Group and the American Institute of Architects.

If you’d like to join the webinar, send your name, company name, e-mail address and phone number to

By marcid

1013 45 banner build industryinsider Post Click Marketing: Make Online Advertising More Effective

Imagine this: You see a sign on the highway that says “Good eats, next exit” and you pull into the establishment ravenously hungry. However, instead of a restaurant, you’re at a grocery store where you have to assemble ingredients and somehow make a meal out of it yourself.

That’s what online marketing is like for visitors when they click on a GREAT ad, but then wind up on the advertiser’s home page with no clear way to execute the offer they saw in the ad (95-97% of visitors leave a Web site without converting).

If you’re spending money on online advertising anyway, take some time to think about post-click marketing, AKA, “what happens to the user after they click your ad.”

Savvy advertisers offer this kind of info to drive sales post-click:

  • Repeat the offer from the ad on the landing page, and use imagery to add excitement to the offer
  • If supporting information is needed to accept the offer or lead to a request for information, add navigation to the landing page that is customized for ad respondents (Remember the grocery store analogy? If you link to your general product information from the Web site you’ll confuse and disappoint users.)
  • Customize your lead generation form for ad users. Don’t make them remember an ad code, just make a separate lead form for ad respondents.

Sounds like a lot of work? It really isn’t. Most CRM solutions offer the ability to build landing pages “on the fly”, or you can use a solution like PluraPage. And on the flip side, a little consideration for the user’s post-click experience will yield more positive results from both the user and your bottom line.

More on post-click marketing:

Post-Click Marketing For Search Marketers

The Seven Principles of Post-Click Marketing

Or read a book about it: Honest Seduction

Marci De Vries is vice president of digital communications for IMRE. Follow her on Twitter.

By Building Experts Team

1013 45 banner build weeklyintel2 Weekly Intel: Top Links of the Week

Studying green behavior and reviewing amazing architecture, old and new…

Do green attitudes equal green behavior (HIRI data)?

More help for homeowners from the Obama administration

The Guggenheim turns 50

The boy who harnessed the wind

Our Archidose for the week – Chicago’s Modern Wing opens tomorrow (Saturday, May 16)

Manufactured for Success

By Building Experts Team

trailer park taj mahal 300x203 Manufactured for Success The term “modular home” might conjure up visions of dusty old trailer parks for some, but to those in the building industry, manufactured homes are evolving into innovative, practical structures with an increasing market share.

Factory-built housing, which includes manufactured, modular, panelized and pre-cut homes, are getting a lot of attention these days, partially due to the recently unveiled, industrial-chic Clayton i-house. But beyond what’s hot today, the builder and dweller alike will find that this type of quality, affordable housing is a sensible alternative in the face of the current housing crisis.

As manufactured housing continues to prove itself as an industry mainstay, keep these considerations top of mind:

  1. Housing affordability continues to shift, but today’s factory-built housing ranges in price from 10 to 35 percent less per square foot than conventional site-built homes*. Providing comparable, if not better, quality and performance, savings like these give more Americans the opportunity to own a home.
  2. Extending savings beyond just the home purchase, more manufactured homes are including ENERGY STAR-labeled products and appliances, which homeowners seek in order to capture significant savings while residing in the home.
  3. Advancements in technology mean factory-built housing is no longer “cookie cutter.” Manufactured home builders have the flexibility to offer unique architectures and finishes to make a home one-of-a-kind. According to the Manufactured Housing Institute, two-story and single-family attached homes are two new styles growing in popularity.
  4. “It’s the economy” that now has recession-driven incentives available to help entice buyers with this housing option. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 included manufactured housing as a type of home that will qualify for a tax credit.
  5. Quality and cost control is manageable from the factory to the jobsite. All materials, down to finishes and appliances, offer savings because they are purchased in volume, and weather is not an interference to halt construction or cause damage to inventory.
0812 131 habitat interior 300x199 Manufactured for Success

Portland Monthly Magazine

*Manufactured Housing Institute

By Building Experts Team
large new home sales 2 300x183 Home Builders In Step with Move Up Buyers

Don Ryan/AP Photo

There’s a new target emerging for today’s home builders. With this week’s chatter about a possible slowdown to the recession, move-up home buyers should seriously reconsider that dream home they’ve had their eyes on for months. The home that once seemed “out of question” expensive for many may now be within reach with the decline in home pricing, but who knows for just how long. Opportunistic home builders and real estate agents take notice.

Growing families who may be nearing their space limits in their starter home have a big decision on their hands. Do they take advantage of the depressed market with a move to a higher priced home or stay put in a home that may not meet all their needs any longer?

“Now may be an ideal time for any family looking to upgrade from their starter home to one more suited to their current of future needs,” said Joe Robson, chairman of the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and a home builder form Tulsa, OK. “Buyers are able to get more home for their money by taking advantage of current prices and interests rates, along with the bargaining power that comes from the large number of homes on the market.”

The better, but not always bigger, house is a great goal to work toward, but the existing house is also still a huge point of contention for many. Sellers may need to give a little and take a hit on their new home. They may not get back all that they paid, but in the end, the successful move-up buyer will revel in their good decisions.

Like many of today’s home builders, the homeowners are making concessions of their own to move inventory. “Obviously, if you’re selling for less than you could have gotten two years ago, you’re disappointed, but you really need to look at your bottom line,” said Walt Molony of the National Association of Realtors. “If you’re trying to trade up, whatever you’re going to trade up to is going to sell at a discount, too. You need to look at your net.”

The $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit will expire on November 30, 2009 and is a great excuse to find that deluxe apartment in the sky-y-y or new family home right around the corner. The NAHB and other groups are pushing the use of the tax credit, and helping to extend it, with good reason. And for those not looking to build, move-up buyers will likely provide new business opportunities for remodelers who can help make that existing home they just purchsed their own.

By Building Experts Team

1013 45 banner build weeklyintel1 Weekly Intel: Top Links of the Week

LEED adds new regional certification

Michelle Kaufmann’s prefabulous mkSolaire gets the Lego treatment

Don’t sell the home, demolish it

Shiller talks about home prices and the economy (something new, right?)

More from California: Has Los Angeles seen the bottom?

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