News & Blog

Home Builders Association

Exhibitor Training January 28

Thank you everyone who came out to tonight’s “Maximize your exhibitor experience” training at the HBAMP.

For your reference, see the links below to review the presentations from the training.

Jim Feild Handout

Jim Beriault Presentation

Elwood Beukelman Presentation

Good luck on your next trade show!

For those exhibiting in the Portland Spring Home & Garden Show, the social media package can be found here www.otshows.com/phs/exhibitors/exhibitor-downloads.

For more information on O’Loughlin Trade Shows, visit otshows.com.

Marketing methods change, and stay the same in real estate

Market-Real-EstateThis article appeared courtesy of Jon Bell in the
June Edition of the Home Building News

When Cindy Belgarde, a broker with Summa Real Estate, first got into the business 12 years ago, she didn’t pay for any marketing. Instead, in those early days she relied almost solely on referrals.

But times — and the market — have changed.

“That’s fine for a while,” Belgarde said, “but after a while, especially if it’s your sole business, you have to do something more.”

For Belgarde, that meant paying for some marketing. She started advertising through Zillow’s preferred agent program, and so far, the results have been promising.

“I’m getting a lot of leads and having a lot of success with that,” Belgarde said. “I feel like these days, you get what you pay for, and I’m seeing some nice results.”

The real estate market today is much different than it was just a few years ago. Inventory is low, demand is high, interest rates are still way down and consumer confidence is on the rise. As a result of the shifting marketplace, those in the real estate industry have found themselves adjusting to the new realities and tweaking their approach to stay on top.

“The market has really been improving,” said Cindy Oja, a broker with John L. Scott Real Estate. “We have more buyers, more sellers coming on and even the market for homes over $1 million has improved tremendously.”

The real estate in Portland has indeed picked up steam, but it’s still a tight market here. According to the latest Regional Multiple Listing Service numbers, the inventory of unsold homes was down to just under three months. In Portland’s Overlook neighborhood in April, not a single home was available for sale, according to a report in the Portland Business Journal. Most economists and real estate industry professionals agree that a five- to six-month supply is an ideal level for a steady market. RMLS also noted that the average sale price for April was $332,600, which was up nearly 10 percent over a year ago and a little more than 1 percent over the prior month.

Nancy Gregg, a principal broker with Realty Trust Group, has found her particular niche to be fairly tight as well. Primarily focused on finding lots and land for builders, she said not only is supply tight, but sellers have been taking a hard stance on the selling price, too.

“It’s very difficult to find lots, and when you do, the sellers have really developed a hard attitude on pricing,” Gregg said. “They’ve read the articles and heard in the media that builders are having a hard time finding lots, that the urban growth boundary isn’t moving out far enough, so the pricing is higher than some builders can justify paying. You have to build a product that fits into a neighborhood and meets a certain price point, so there’s only so much that you can pay for the land.”

For the sector of the market she’s in, Gregg said she doesn’t do a ton of traditional marketing, but instead has been hitting sites like Craigslist and For Sale By Owner hard to find buildable land.

“Anything I can do to find lots,” she said. “It’s gotten a lot more difficult over the past three years and it’s not necessarily good for my business. But I chose this path because I love the creative process and it’s what I love doing.”

Oja said she does some print advertising in luxury home magazines and The Oregonian, but only for higher end homes, usually those priced at $1 million or more. She doesn’t do much on social media, but she said others in her office are more active on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. One reason Oja doesn’t use social media much is because of the way other sites share her listings for her.

“I do a listing and it gets grabbed by so many other sites and virtual offices like Redfin and RE/MAX,” she said.

Marketing has also gotten much more technologically advanced. Oja said Jon L. Scott’s mobile app has become a popular way for prospective homebuyers to scope out properties.

“People used to drive back to their office or homes with an address written on a piece of paper and then try to find out whatever information they could,” she said. “Not, you can get all that information instantly. It makes it much more competitive because people know what’s out there immediately.”

One thing that’s not changed when it comes to real estate marketing is the idea of making the best impression. Oja said no matter what kind of marketing she’s doing, she always makes sure everything looks top-notch.

“I make sure that I’m putting my best foot forward from the beginning,” she said. “I think it’s so important to make sure that everything is dialed in to perfection from the start.”

Head into 2015 with the 10 best practices of business planning

Biz PlanThis article appeared courtesy of Jon Bell in December’s edition of the Home Building News.

When asked what advice he’d share on business planning for the new year, Andrew Tull, a principal planner with 3J Consulting and the current chair of the HBAMP’s Government Affairs Committee, doesn’t at first offer up tips on setting goals, reviewing processes or avoiding risk but instead waxes almost philosophical.

“It’s a great time to your last year of experience in the past and focus on starting fresh,” he said. “Whether you’ve had a good year or a bad one, the clock starts at zero again. If you didn’t like the direction your company was headed in, it’s time to make some changes, and if you did like the way it was going, it’s time to build on your strengths.”

Wise words to live by for just about anyone heading into a fresh new year, one that seems poised to continue the economic recovery and see further strength in the homebuilding and remodeling world.To get the most out of any year takes, in part, some serious business planning, so the Home Building News tapped into various HBAMP members for a list of best practices when it comes to planning for a successful year. From building a solid online presence and setting financial goals to making sure your business is in line with the law, the following best practices can go a long way in helping you get the most out of 2015.

Plan on it — Many small businesses and sole proprietors operate by the seat of their pants, without a plan — not the best way to go, said Action Coach business coach Terry Elton. A better route? Start out 2015 by working up even a simple plan for the year. Set a revenue goal for the year, along with quarterly goals, then lay out the steps and resources you’ll need to meet those goals. “It’s very important to set those goals and have something you’re working for,” Elton said. “Without a target, there’s nothing to make progress toward.”

Learn the law — A lot can happen to laws over the course of a year. New laws come into play, construction statutes change and code updates occur. Make sure you’re up on any changes so that your business is above board. “There can be significant changes in employment law and licensure, so it’s important to keep up on those and this is the time of year to do it,” said Sandra Fraser, an attorney at Intelekia Law Group LLC, a business law firm in Portland. “It’s always a good idea to talk to a business attorney to find out about those.” One of the biggest changes in 2014 was the city of Portland’s mandatory sick leave ordinance, which went into effect last January but could still be confusing or pose challenges for anyone who does work in the city of Portland.

License lingo — Like laws, requirements for licensure can change from year to year as well. Make sure you’re meeting the requirements for your particular license and that the license or licenses you do have cover all the work you do. “Contractors need to double check with the CCB or an attorney to make sure they’re not under-licensed,” Fraser said.

Get online — If you’ve not already built up a reputation online, Elton said you should plan to do so in 2015. That means not only a web site and social media profiles, but positive reviews from customers and clients. “Not having an online reputation is as bad as having no reputation,” Elton said. “That online presence gets people to really reach out to you.”

Show  your numbers — Fraser said lots of her construction industry clients are doing a great job at marketing and advertising these days. The only problem? They may not be doing it in the way the Construction Contractors Board require. “Any advertising or marketing that a consumer can see needs to have (the contractor’s) CCB number on it,” she said. That goes for print advertisements, web sites, even profiles on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Look backward and forward — The past, said Tull, can be a great teacher for the future. “We’ve all been through the downturn and there are a lot of great lessons to be learned from it,” he said, “one being that slow and sustained growth usually lasts longer than quick and rapid expansion.”

Contract considerations — It’s important for builders and remodelers to have up-to-date forms for contracts and subcontracts to ensure that they don’t lose their lien rights. The CCB is a great resource for finding templates, along with guidelines on what exactly needs to be done with contracts in terms of filling them and other requirements. Fraser also said that using current contracts is key for protecting your business; she said she’s seen too many contractors rely on a handshake, which doesn’t leave much leverage should things go awry. “It’s really, really easy for contractors to lose their lien rights,” Fraser said. “You hardly ever have to use those, but it’s a good hammer to have in case you ever do.”

Financing 101 — Numbers may not be everyone’s strong point, but they plan an important role in business planning for the year. Elton said he has worked with some clients who don’t have a very good idea of their finances — how much they have, need or spend — which isn’t the right approach to success. Work with an accountant or a financial planner to get a clear look at the numbers behind your business.

Insure the future — The beginning of the year is always a good time of year to review commercial general liability policies and make sure business processes are aligned with insurance coverage. Some insurance riders will cancel coverage for any subcontracted work that was performed without a written contract.

Embrace change, carefully — The start of a new year can be a great time to set new course for your business, whether that’s growing, adding new products and services or otherwise innovating. But, Fraser noted, it must be done “with much deliberation.” “The change or die mantra for businesses is absolutely right on,” she said. “Very few companies are able to be competitive for very many years without changing. The reason to change with great deliberation, though, is companies also change and die.”

Biz Tip: Best practices for lead follow-up

By Builders Digital Experience (BDX)

Render of a CRM Funnel Chart.You’ve made an investment to drive leads to your business, but don’t stop there! Implementing a strong lead follow-up process is critical to achieving a strong return on your investment. Continually nurturing leads throughout the sales cycle is important—especially since the home buying cycle has gotten longer and many shoppers will take 9-12 months before making a purchase decision. Read on for helpful tips to connect with buyers from click to close.

Following-Up
Time is money and the quicker you follow up the better first impression the buyer will have of your company. When you respond to leads within 15 minutes of submission, you are 4 times more likely to contact and qualify the lead. Having an internet sales counselor or someone that is dedicated to monitoring the online leads is a great way to make contact in a timely manner. In your first initial contact make sure you use a catchy subject line, personalize the email by using the customer’s name, include links to interactive media, have a strong call to action (i.e. come to an open house or make an appointment) and include all contact information so the customer can choose any which way they would like to connect with you. Above all else – keep it professional!

Did you know that 48% of sales agents never follow up on a lead that comes in? This is a huge missed opportunity for your sales pipeline! Can you afford to not engage with these potential buyers? Additionally, 25% of sales agents will only make 2 contacts with the home shopper. If a buyer is not planning to make a purchase decision from 9 months to a year, 2 contacts is simply not going to cut it! 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact. Call and email multiple times – you will thank us later!

Tracking Leads
How are you keeping track of your leads? If you sell more than 50 homes a year, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a must. There are many cost effective CRM solutions available today such as Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, Sales Simplicity, Sales 1440, Lasso, Builder Trend and SmartTouch. These systems allow you to track and nurture leads in an efficient and organized manner.

Nurturing Leads
As we mentioned previously, since the buying cycle is longer, you will need to nurture the leads that come in for a much longer period of time. This means sending a steady stream of communications to your prospects to catch them when they are ready to buy. But what do you send? BDX has great content and messaging for builder clients to use from the Start Fresh. Buy New. initiative that shows why buying a new home is better than resale. It is important to highlight the benefits that a new construction home provides: the low cost of ownership, quality construction, energy efficiency and better floor plans. Remember, your competition isn’t the builder down the street, it is resale homes.

Additional ways to nurture leads throughout the sales cycle include:
•    Adding the prospect to your community e-newsletter.
•    Create social media campaigns targeted to home buyers to get them to engage with your brand.
•    Invite prospects to open houses/community events.

Interactive content keeps prospects engaged and builds trust in your brand. To accomplish this, use videos to tour the community, highlight company history or showcase green features. Videos don’t have to be of high production quality and can even be done from your phone.

A good CRM system can help you automate these nurture campaigns. Implementing some of these simple tips will keep your homes and brand at the top of your buyer’s mind when they are ready to purchase.

Best Practices
In summation, there are some critical best practices to consider when following up to leads:
•    Quantity of outreach: Make sure you are in contact several times!
•    Utilize multiple channels: Don’t just follow up with an email, use the phone and host events.
•    Timeliness: Respond quickly! Consider an Internet Representative to stay on top of emerging leads.
•    Customize the message: Personalize the follow up responses with client names and topics of interest.

Unsure if your lead follow-up strategy is making the mark?  Contact BDX at Info@theBDX.com today for an assessment.

Builders Digital Experience (BDX) is a leading provider of digital marketing solutions for builders. In addition to the top new home listing sites — NewHomeSource.com and MoveNewHomes.com, BDX offers website development, interactive floor plans, photo realistic renderings, video production, and photography among other products.  For more information visit www.theBDX.com.

Roger Neu designated an Honorary Life Member of the HBA

Roger NeuRoger has been a member of the Home Builders Association of Metro Portland for nearly 20 years. During that time he has been a highly respected developer and builder in the Portland region. At the HBAMP, Roger has been extremely active, including serving on the Government Relations Committee (in 2008 as the Chair), the Nominating Committee and many other areas of leadership and involvement.

In the past few years, Roger has been greatly involved with the Home Builders Foundation (HBF), the charitable arm of the HBAMP. Roger served as the HBF Board President in 2013 and is currently serving as Immediate Past President, bringing his experience and leadership to the foundation’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

In addition to his leadership, Roger also played a vital role as Builder Captain for one of the HBF’s most unique projects in Beaverton. The Boys & Girls Aid project entailed an almost complete renovation of a 1950s four-plex, which Roger oversaw and rallied building industry friends to support. This project currently houses homeless youth ages 16 to 23, providing a stable environment in which to rebuild their lives. Roger continues his involvement with Home Builders Foundation projects by serving on the HomeAid Committee, which helps assess potential HBF projects.

While Roger is retiring from being an active developer in our industry, his intent is to stay engaged with HBA and HBF.  The Board approved him as an Honorary Life Member, which is only given to members who have retired and who have been an involved member and leader of the association over a long period of time. The HBAMP has not designated a new Honorary Life member for over eight years. It is with great pleasure that we bestow this honor on Roger. Thank you so much Roger, for your support of the housing industry and your involvement with the HBA and the HBF.

For New Construction Services: It’s all conduit, all the time

Natural GasAfter years of builders providing open trenches or conduit for service installations, NW Natural has modified its policy: NW Natural will now install services to new homes through conduit only and will no longer ask builders to leave a trench open.

At the same time, NW Natural will make it easier for builders and excavators to pick up conduit at local resource centers.

Regulators in two states have approved the change. NW Natural is asking builders to adopt the new procedure by Jan. 1, 2015.

Why the change?  Today, more than 80 percent of all builders in our service area – and 90 percent in Oregon – already use conduit rather than leave an open trench. Unpredictable weather and erosion potential make open trenches risky from an environmental perspective, with the potential for violating local erosion control laws. Timing issues associated with open trenches can lead to miscommunication – and possible wasted trip charges for the builder.

Will the timing for new service hookups change?  The overall timeline has not changed, but the process has been simplified. Once we receive notice that the conduit is in place NW Natural will install your service within seven business days (where permits are not required). Builders often install conduit when the foundation is laid to prevent construction delays.

How can we get the conduit?  Before we asked for regulatory approval, we talked to a lot of you in the building community. Those of you providing open trenches asked us to make it easier for you to pick up conduit. Here’s how we plan to help.

•    Most Oregon resource centers will continue to provide conduit pickup between 7 and 9 am Monday through Friday. In addition, you can now pick up conduit between 7 am and 3 pm every weekday at the Sherwood Operations and Training Center, 20285 SW Cipole Road in Sherwood, Oregon.
•    The Clark County Resource Center, 11218 NE 66 St., Vancouver, will offer conduit from 6:30 to 9:30 am every weekday. You can also arrange to pick up conduit outside the gate of the Clark County Resource Center during other times of the day by calling (360) 571-5465, ext. 2070.
•    Visit www.nwnatural.com/Business/Partners/BuilderServices/ConduitPickup to find the address and phone number of the nearest resource center for conduit pick up.

Questions?
Visit www.nwnatural.com/Business/Partners/BuilderServices at www.NWNatural.com, or www.nwnatural.com/Business/Partners/BuilderServices/BuilderContacts to find names and phone numbers of the resources you need.
And for those of you switching to conduit for new service installations, please let us know how the new system is working for you.  This program applies to new construction services only.

Are you prepared? Winter storms and extreme cold vehicle preparedness

This article appeared courtesy of Montgomery & Graham in January’s edition of the Home Building News

Man in pickup truck plowing road during snow stormWhile the amount of danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, ice, sleet and freezing rain.
A primary concern during winter storms and extreme cold is commuting safely. Most businesses, events and activities will only close down during the worst storms or extreme temperatures during winter. Because of this, it’s important that vehicles are properly prepared for winter conditions to make commuting in these conditions as safe as possible.

Winterize your vehicle
Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
– Antifreeze levels—ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
– Battery and ignition system should be in top condition, and battery terminals should be clean.
– Brakes—check for wear and fluid levels.
– Exhaust system—check for leaks and crimped pipes, and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
– Fuel and air filters—replace filters and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full ta-nk of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
– Heater and defroster—ensure they work properly.
– Lights and flashing hazard lights—check for serviceability.
– Oil—check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
– Thermostat—ensure it works properly.
– Windshield wiper equipment—repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
– Install good winter tires—make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Update the emergency kit in your vehicle with the following:
– A shovel
– Windshield scraper and small broom
– Flashlight
– Battery-powered radio
– Extra batteries
– Water
– Non-perishable snack food
– Matches
– Extra hats, socks and mittens
– First aid kit with pocket knife
– Necessary medications
– Blanket(s)
– Tow chain or rope
– Road salt and sand
– Booster cables
– Emergency flares
– Fluorescent distress flag

If you are stranded in a vehicle
If a blizzard traps you in the car:
– Pull off the highway. Turn on the hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
– Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful—distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.
-Run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning.
– Exercise to maintain your body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
– Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
– Eat regularly and drink ample fluids to avoid dehydration, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
– Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs—the use of lights, heat and radio—with supply.
– Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
– If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by air.
– Leave the car and proceed on foot—if necessary—once the blizzard passes.

In addition to insuring your home & autos, Montgomery & Graham is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact Jeff Cecchini at (503) 914-6788 or email jcecchini@mg-pc.com today.

 

New Professional Women in Building council starts as third largest in country

PWB_LogoƒThis article first appeared in December’s edition of the Home Building News courtesy of Jon Bell.

When Jan Lewis first started out in the construction industry in 1977, not everyone welcomed her with open arms.

As one of the first women in a management role at a commercial construction company, Lewis frequently felt alone in the male-dominated industry. Beyond those feelings, there were people in the company who weren’t about to help her work her way up.

“When I was training to become a project manager, they had to hand-pick the manager I was going to train under because there were some men in the company who said, ‘No way am I training a woman,’” Lewis said.

Nearly 40 years later, Lewis has been president of her own residential construction company, Tryon Creek Construction, for 25 years and she’s the outgoing president of the HBA, the first woman builder to ever hold the post.

While Lewis and other women have blazed some trails through the homebuilding industry, it’s still an industry dominated by men. To help women feel more at home in the industry, the HBA has started its own chapter of the Professional Women in Building Council. The council, officially launched at a November 5th event, joins other professional councils at the HBA like PRO and the Home Performance Council.

“We see it as a good way for women to have a landing point in the industry and as a way for them to feel more comfortable and to get more involved,” said Carol Eisenlohr, director of quality assured design for Legend Homes. “There’s also a lot of opportunity for support, education, networking and mentoring.”

Lewis said the initial idea to start a Portland chapter of the PWB — there’s also a national organization associated with the National Association of Home Builders — came from HBA CEO Dave Nielsen about a year ago. After some initial discussions, a few informational meetings were held to test the waters and see if there was any interest for the council.

“When we held our first meeting, we had so many women show up that we’d never seen at anything related to the HBA at all,” Lewis said. “We knew right then that there was a need.”

Professional Women in Business launch partyReinforcing that notion, the council scheduled its official launch for Wednesday, Nov. 5, at Custom Stone Creations, a Milwaukie countertop fabrication and installation company owned by Cindy Anderson. Thirty-six people registered for the event; more than 70 showed up. Among the crowd: a dozen or so men.

“There were some men who were brave enough to come to our event,” Lewis said. “We’re not making it women only. The focus is on women in the industry, but it’s also about everyone working together.”

“It’s not about separating us,” added Eisenlohr. “It’s more a way for anybody in the industry who wants to be more involved to help support others and to promote the industry as a whole.”

The PWB’s mission statement describes the council as “a select group of residential building professionals who share strategies and solutions to promote, enhance and support professional women in today’s home building industry through education, networking, mentoring and legislative awareness.” It also aims to: serve as an entry point for women looking to connect with the HBA; facilitate networking and relationship building; identify and support leadership and business management training; and provide mentoring opportunities.

Eisenlohr has agreed to chair the council for the first year, and Lewis will take on the role for 2016. At $85 a year, dues in the council are on par with the HBA’s other councils. Lewis said the council will meet regularly throughout the year and have several events — likely at various member businesses — but no formal schedule has been set up just yet. Eisenlohr also said that the council will likely team up with some of the other councils and events already under way at the HBA so as not to add too much more to anyone’s plate.

Case in point: the PWB will join forces with the Home Performance Council for the HPC’s sixth annual pub tour fund-raiser from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, in Lake Oswego.

Lewis said she’s hopeful about the opportunities that the PWB will provide and that it will encourage more women to up their involvement with the HBA. Already, she’s heard interest from several HBA members not already involved with the PWB, and at least one former member has talked about renewing her HBA membership so she can get involved with the council. A core group of about 25 HBA members representing the entire homebuilding industry have been supportive of the council since its inception, but Lewis hopes that’s only the beginning.

As of mid-December, the HBAMP’s council started as the third largest in the country. “It will be interesting to see how big it gets,” she said. “I think probably for the first year, we’ll see 40 or 50 members. But who knows? Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

For more information about the HBA’s new Professional Women in Building Council, contact Rachel Trice, the association’s vice president of membership services and events, at rachelt@hbapdx.org or (503) 684-1880.

Contact Us: Call Us at: 503-684-1880 // Email Us at: info@hbapdx.org