According to the latest edition of NAHB’s Washington Update, the association charted some impressive wins during the ICC’s recently completed Final Action Hearings on the 2015 I-Codes this month.
They wanted to highlight some of these wins for you here, and also to provide you with the summary report on final results that was presented to members of NAHB’s Board of Directors at our Oct. 12 meeting in Colorado Springs. Of particular importance, builders were successful in fighting off five key proposals. These included:
1. Additional requirements for exterior foam plastics, which would have required builders to sheath the entire exterior of their homes in a layer of drywall or wood sheathing, or maintain a distance of 10 feet from all property lines;
2. Additional stair and ramp requirements mandating that all single-family homes and townhouses with multiple levels have a stair or ramp within 50 feet of any habitable portion of the home;
3. Residential accessibility rules that would have required all one- and two-family homes to be designed with a zero-clearance entrance, an elevator or lift, an accessible bathroom, bedroom and (if on the accessible level) a kitchen with 40 inches of clear floor space at all counters;
4. Wood deck general provisions including guard post, stair stringer and lateral connection requirements that would have added to hardware costs and other provisions that could have led to engineering being required for decks; and
5. A proposal on foundation walls in flood zones, which would have required reinforced short stem walls in riverine flood zones (FEMA Zone A).
Who Has the Highest Real Estate Taxes in the Country?
New Jersey residents currently contend with the highest median real estate taxes in the country, while Alabama residents enjoy the lowest such tax bills. That’s according to figures from the recently released 2012 American Community Survey, which NAHB economists have been analyzing in the Eye on Housing blog. The difference between those highest and lowest rates is substantial, to say the least, with New Jersey’s median tax bill punching in at $7,183 per year compared to Alabama’s $535. Our economists report that eight of the top 10 highest real estate tax bills occur in Northeast states, while a majority of the lowest tax states are found in the South. Looking at tax rates per $1,000 of property value, however, Hawaii actually has the lowest effective rate in the country, at just $2.77 per $1,000 of home value. On the flip side, Illinois and New Jersey have the highest effective rates, at more than $23 per $1,000 of property value.
Baton Rouge Posts Best Score on Index of Leading Housing Markets
NAHB’s newly introduced Leading Markets Index(LMI) indicates that 52 metro areas nationwide have now returned to or exceeded their pre-recessionary levels of housing activity. While the nation as a whole has returned to 85% of normal in terms of key measures of housing strength — single-family permits, prices and employment — Baton Rouge, La., earned the strongest LMI score out of any major metro area in October. That city’s LMI score indicates that its housing market is now 41% stronger than it was prior to the recent recession. Other major metros at the top of the list include Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin and Houston, Texas, as well as Harrisburg, Pa. – all of whose LMI scores indicate that their housing markets now exceed previous norms. Looking at smaller metros, both Odessa and Midland, Texas, boast LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning that their housing markets are now double their strength prior to the recession. Also at the top of the list of smaller metros are Casper, Wyo.; Bismarck, N.D.; and Florence, Ala., respectively. Commenting on the October report, NAHB Chairman Rick Judson said, “This index helps illustrate how far the U.S. housing recovery has come, and also how much further it has to go as we continue to face some significant headwinds in terms of credit availability, rising costs for lots and labor, and uncertainties regarding Washington policymaking.”
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