U.S. Existing-Home Sales Rise to Best Pace Since Early 2018

March 23, 2020
Reade Pickert - Bloomberg

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes jumped in December to the best pace in nearly two years as historically low interest rates continued to lure buyers despite record-low inventory.

Contract closings rose 3.6% from the prior month to a 5.54 million annual rate, according to National Association of Realtors data released Wednesday that exceeded all but one estimate in Bloomberg’s survey. The median sales price climbed 7.8% from a year earlier, the most since January 2016, to $274,500 as inventories declined for a seventh-straight month.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance for Contractors

March 16, 2020
Levi W. Barrett, Steven M. Charney, Warren E. Friedman & Christopher B. Kinzel - Peckar & Abramson, P.C.

The Coronavirus has been the subject of an extraordinary amount of media coverage since the start of 2020. As we approach the end of the first quarter of the year, its impact on local and global economies and our way of life cannot be ignored. This Alert will provide the construction industry with guidance and recommendations for navigating commercial risk resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.

The potential impacts of the Coronavirus to the construction industry are wide reaching. Consequences on a project site can include quarantines or other governmental actions resulting in impacts to the project work force. Offsite impacts can cover a much broader scope of issues including labor shortages at factories of manufacturers or fabrication facilities, resulting in production delays, transportation embargoes causing project supply issues, or governmental actions which inhibit manufacturing and production causing supply chain shortages and inabilities to service existing demands. So, what can contractors facing such impacts do to avoid losses, mitigate the impacts, and prepare for what’s to come?

Reprinted courtesy of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. attorneys Levi W. Barrett, Steven M. Charney, Warren E. Friedman and Christopher B. Kinzel
Mr. Barrett may be contacted at lbarrett@pecklaw.com
Mr. Charney may be contacted at scharney@pecklaw.com
Mr. Warren may be contacted at wfriedman@pecklaw.com
Mr. Christopher may be contacted at ckinzel@pecklaw.com

U.S. Homebuilder Sentiment Posts Best Two Months Since 1999

March 9, 2020
Katia Dmitrieva - Bloomberg

U.S. homebuilder sentiment posted the highest back-to-back readings since 1999, as developers saw a surge in prospective buyers and a bump in the sales outlook.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for December and January together were the highest levels in two decades, despite weakening one point to 75 this month, according to a report Thursday. The monthly number also slightly exceeded estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

U.S. Housing Starts Surged Last Month to Highest in 13 Years

March 2, 2020
Ana Monteiro - Bloomberg

Groundbreakings on new U.S. homes surged in December to a 13-year high, giving the housing market momentum heading into the new year amid low mortgage rates, solid job growth and optimistic buyers and builders.

Residential starts rose 16.9% to a 1.61 million annualized rate after an upwardly revised 1.375 million pace in the prior month, according to government figures released Friday. The gain was the biggest in three years and well above all estimates in a Bloomberg survey. Permits, a proxy for future construction, fell 3.9% to 1.42 million.

Judge Orders New York City Tower Owner to Remove Up to 20 Floors

February 24, 2020
Mary B. Powers, Eydie Cubarrubia & Debra K. Rubin - Engineering News-Record

A New York state judge has ordered a Manhattan developer to remove floors, possibly as many as 20, on a 668-ft-tall, 52-story high-rise condominium building that he said do not comply with zoning regulations.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com

Federal Judge Temporarily Enjoins California From Enforcing AB 51

February 18, 2020
Jeffrey K. Brown & Raymond J. Nhan - Payne & Fears

This morning, a federal judge from the Eastern District of California granted a temporary restraining order preventing California from enforcing Assembly Bill (AB) 51.

AB 51-which was set to take effect on January 1, 2020-prohibits employers from requiring, as a condition of employment, employees to waive their right to any forum or procedure to bring claims under the Labor Code or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Several industry groups filed a complaint, alleging that AB 51 is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act and violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.

Reprinted courtesy of Jeffrey K. Brown, Payne and Fears and Raymond J. Nhan, Payne and Fears
Mr. Brown may be contacted at jkb@paynefears.com
Mr. Nhan may be contacted at rjn@paynefears.com

Homeowners’ Negligence Claims against Builder Bears Significant Relationship to Construction Contracts and Are Therefore Arbitrable

February 10, 2020
Zachary Landes - Florida Construction Law News

Recently, in Vanacore Construction, Inc. v. Osborn, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 18068, 2018 WL 6579205, the 5th District Court of Appeal determined that a homeowners’ claims against a builder for construction defects bore a significant relationship to the parties’ construction contracts. Therefore, the claims were arbitrable pursuant to the broadly worded arbitration provision of the contracts.

Mr. Landes may be contacted at Zachary.Landes@csklegal.com

2019 Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Gains Steam with Bipartisan Support

February 3, 2020
Emily K. Bias - Gravel2Gavel Construction & Real Estate Law Blog

As 2019 winds down, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019 is gaining momentum in Congress. The Act, which is aimed at expanding and strengthening the low-income housing tax credit, was originally introduced in 2016. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 adopted two key provisions of the original bill—a 12.5% increase to the housing credit ceiling for years 2018-2021 and the “income averaging” minimum set-aside election. The 2019 bill reintroduces many key provisions from the original bill, along with new provisions to further bolster the housing credit. As of the end of October, more than one-third of the House and one-fourth of the Senate have signed on to co-sponsor the bill. In summary, the key proposals in the 2019 legislation would:

  • Establish a minimum 4% credit rate for tax-exempt bond financed transactions;
  • Increase the housing credit volume cap by 50% over five years;
  • Add income averaging as a third minimum set-aside test for 4% bond deals to mirror the modifications to Section 42 of the Internal Revenue Code adopted as part of the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act;

Ms. Bias may be contacted at emily.bias@pillsburylaw.com

Millennial Homebuyers Drive Need for Early Childhood Education Construction

January 27, 2020
Travis Waldrop - Construction Executive

Millennials are now the largest generation in the world, and they are shaping everything from the housing market to consumer trends, according to the Pew Research Center. The ever-growing age cohort’s spending power is expected to reach $1.4 trillion annually in 2020, according to Accenture; as they have started to settle down and form families of their own, according to the National Association of Realtors, they have also become one of the most active generations of homebuyers in the nation. .

As real estate developers, builders and land owners compete for millennials’ spending power and better understand their buying motivations, they will need to determine which amenities are a must-have to generate loyalty to an area and long-term ROI.

Reprinted courtesy of Travis Waldrop, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.

Sao Paulo Skyline Fills Up With New Towers as Real Estate Booms

January 20, 2020
Fabiola Moura, Vinicius Andrade, & Patricia Lara – Bloomberg

Sao Paulo real estate has never been so hot.

Walking around Brazil’s wealthiest city, it’s impossible to avoid the construction sites suddenly breathing life into formerly empty lots. One street alone in Itaim Bibi, the city’s financial district, has five skyscrapers going up. Newspapers are packed with ads for new high rises targeting just about anyone with a steady paycheck.

Homebuilder Stocks Rally After Lennar Results Top Estimates

January 13, 2020
Felice Maranz – Bloomberg

Builders rose after Lennar Corp.’s fourth-quarter orders and revenue beat estimates, even as home prices fell in the quarter.

Lennar shares jumped as much as 5.4% in early Wednesday trading, the most since March 27. The S&P Supercomposite Homebuilding Index rose as much as 2.9% to the highest since Dec. 12, with top gainers including M/I Homes Inc., which got an upgrade earlier, William Lyon Homes, Century Communities Inc. and Toll Brothers Inc.

Chicago Contractors, Developers, Unions Launch HIRE360 Effort to Bring Minorities, Women into Construction

January 6, 2020
Jeff Yoders - Engineering News-Record

Labor unions, the biggest developers and general contractors in Chicago, the Associated General Contractors of America's Chicagoland branch, the Chicago and Cook County North America's Building Trades Unions and the United Way all came together to launch a new group aimed at increasing minority and women participation in the construction process.

Mr. Yoders may be contacted at yodersj@enr.com

Paris Mixed-Use Development Will Be 'Environmentally Responsible'

January 1, 2020
Bruce Buckley - Engineering News-Record

Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France and Bouygues Energies & Services, two subsidiaries of Bouygues Construction, are building the $289-million Issy Coeur de Ville under development in Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris. Envisioned as an eco-neighborhood, the 1,076,391-sq-ft project aims to provide residents an “environmentally responsible lifestyle.” The development is a connected block, located in the heart of Issy-les-Moulineaux. It will focus on pedestrian traffic and will be heavily landscaped. Designed by architect Valode & Pistre, the mixed-used development will consist of five residential buildings, including a retirement home, three office buildings and a range of civic amenities that include a school complex, a day-care center and a community hall. The development will also feature 182,986 sq ft of retail, restaurants and a seven-screen multiplex cinema.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com

Best Project: Residential/Hospitality: Arrivé Tower

December 22, 2019
Engineering News-Record

The small footprint of Arrivé Tower, a cast-in-place concrete building, created a significant challenge. The mid-city block location of the structure—with its seven levels of below-grade parking, six elevators and multiple amenities—constrained construction equipment access and deliveries and required careful planning of just-in-time deliveries for all materials.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com

Gateway at Millbrae Station Breaks Ground in Bay Area

December 16, 2019
Greg Aragon - Engineering News-Record

After years of community input and numerous permitting hurdles, the Gateway at Millbrae Station development has started construction. Located next to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART) Millbrae Station, the 17-acre mixed-used development will feature a Marriott-branded hotel, office space, residential, and significant retail installments. The entire complex is slated for completion in 2025.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com

D.R. Horton Surges as Orders Beat Pushes Shares to Record High

December 9, 2019
Prashant Gopal - Bloomberg

Homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc. reported quarterly orders that beat analysts’ estimates, sending its shares to a record high.

In the three months through September, purchase contracts jumped 14% from a year earlier to 13,130, the Arlington, Texas-based company said in a statement Tuesday. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting a gain of 7.9%. The company also posted higher than expected profit and boosted its dividend, sending its shares higher.

Housing Might Rescue the Economy From Trump’s Trade War

December 2, 2019
Conor Sen - Bloomberg

Manufacturing data released Tuesday made two things clear: The Federal Reserve might be powerless to prevent the negative effects of the trade war from hurting economic growth, but it still has the juice to boost the housing market.

The ISM Manufacturing Index report showed that industrial activity in the U.S. plunged in September, the sixth straight monthly decline, to the lowest since the Great Recession ended in June 2009. But the silver lining is that the Fed's efforts are showing up in recent housing data, including Tuesday's construction spending report, with activity continuing to perk up after several sluggish quarters.

U.S. Home Starts Reach Highest Since 2007 in Broad Advance

November 24, 2019
Reade Pickert - Bloomberg

U.S. home construction surged in August to the fastest pace since mid-2007 on more apartment projects and single-family houses, a welcome sign for the housing sector that has struggled to gain momentum.

Residential starts climbed 12.3% to a 1.36 million annualized rate after an upwardly revised 1.22 million pace in the prior month, according to government figures released Wednesday that topped all estimates in Bloomberg’s survey. Permits, a proxy for future construction, also increased to a 12-year high.

Two Techniques to Connect the Next Generation to the Trades

November 18, 2019
Jeremiah Hayes - Construction Executive

There is a mountain of research and discussion around the differences in generational value sets, work ethic and motivational drivers. Where this intersects with skilled trade work, there is a diminishing reservoir of the talent and passion that will build the next generation of schools, hospitals, courthouses and other traditional infrastructure.

In short, more people are leaving the trades than coming in. But, far worse (and rarely discussed) is the internal poverty this will bring to the reservoir of character, creativity and true satisfaction that companies will need foster if they are to endure in the decades to come. The mass migration from physical jobs to intellectual ones—while largely a positive trend—carries some damaging side effects to individuals and corporations if not intentionally managed at the organizational level.

Reprinted courtesy of Jeremiah Hayes, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.

South-East Asia’s Largest 3D-printer for Construction Operational in Singapore

November 12, 2019
Aarni Heiskanen - AEC Business

South-East Asia’s largest 3D-printer for construction is declared operational in Singapore by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in Singapore at the PEAK Forum on 11 September 2019.

This 3D concrete printer is capable of printing concrete components up to 9 m long, 3.5 m wide and 3.8 m tall. The 3D-printer is developed and operated for HDB by Witteveen+Bos South-East Asia Pte. Ltd. and the overall project is a joint effort of Robin Village Development Pte. Ltd., Nanyang Technological University and Witteveen+Bos.

Mr. Heiskanen may be contacted at aec-business@aepartners.fi

From Linear to Circular in Construction: An Interview with Lu Ying

November 4, 2019
Aarni Heiskanen - AEC Business

Lu Ying recently co-founded Future Urban Living to explore sustainable solutions for businesses and cities in the Circular Economy through design thinking. Lu gave a great keynote speech at WDBE 2019 in Helsinki. We continue the discussion in this interview.

Mr. Heiskanen may be contacted at aec-business@aepartners.fi

ENR New York’s 2019 Best Projects: Woolworth Tower Residences

October 21, 2019
Engineering News-Record

The Woolworth Building, an iconic tower that was the world’s tallest in 1913, has been transformed into a mixed-use skyscraper—though it still has its Cass Gilbert-designed neo-Gothic facade, soaring arches and gargoyles.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com

ENR New York’s 2019 Best Projects: Fisher Houses

October 14, 2019
Engineering News-Record

Building the nonprofit Fisher House Foundation’s two 16-bedroom houses—where military and veterans’ families can stay free of charge while a loved one is receiving care at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx—was no typical homebuilding effort. It required considerable logistical skill thanks to challenging site conditions.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com

Regional Builders Grow Revenue At A Steady Pace

October 7, 2019
Justin Rice - Engineering News-Record

Thanks to solid strength in the regional market, the 70 firms participating in this year’s ENR MidAtlantic Top Contractor survey posted a combined $27.7 billion in revenue from work performed and billed in 2018. That represents a 6% gain over the amount reported by a slightly different lineup of 70 firms in last year’s ranking from projects in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Mr. Rice may be contacted at ricej@enr.com


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