19

Oct

COVID Industry News

Industry news has been encouraging, The Washington Post recently wrote: In April, housing starts in the United States on a year-over-year basis declined 29.7 percent to 891,000, according to the Census Bureau. During that same period, housing completions fell 29.7 percent to 891,000. And in April, 1.1 million building permits were filed, down 19.2 percent from the previous April.

Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, anticipates about a 20 percent decline nationally in single-family construction this year “with a rebound taking hold at the end of the year and gains in 2021.”

Specifically, the housing market is beginning to show signs of stabilizing and is moving forward from the pandemic. By mid-May, the latest NAHB-Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, which depicts builder confidence in the construction of single-family houses, increased seven points to 37.

“But being below 50, it is still in negative territory,” Dietz said.

In a research note, Thomas Simons, a money market economist with Bloomfield, N.J.-based investment bank Jefferies & Co., wrote that he’s “optimistic” about the home building sector and that he expects a “sharp rebound” in sentiment in the June data.

“Coming into the COVID-19-induced shutdown of economic activity, there was a housing shortage in the U.S. that was driving prices steadily higher and led this index to reach its highest level since 1999,” Simons wrote. “Despite the massive surge in unemployment caused by the policy response to the virus, we don’t think the fundamentals in the housing market have changed all that much. With most of the job losses either temporary or at the lower end of the income spectrum, they are unlikely to affect the demand for single-family housing.”

But Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association, was less rosy. In a recent statement, he said the loss of 1 million construction jobs “may potentially slow the rebound in new construction that will be needed to completely revive the housing market.”

For more go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/06/11/business-our-new-normal-pandemics-effect-home-construction-market/?arc404=true

Over at Marketwatch.com, the situation is improving: “The numbers: Home-building activity has staged a significant turnaround from the coronavirus-related slowdown.

U.S. homebuilders began construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.496 million in July, up 22.6% from the previous month and 23.4% from a year ago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. The pace of home building is now 7% down from the pre-coronavirus high.

Permitting activity occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.495 million, up 18.8% from June and 9.4% from July 2019.

The numbers: Home-building activity has staged a significant turnaround from the coronavirus-related slowdown.

U.S. homebuilders began construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.496 million in July, up 22.6% from the previous month and 23.4% from a year ago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. The pace of home building is now 7% down from the pre-coronavirus high.

Permitting activity occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.495 million, up 18.8% from June and 9.4% from July 2019.

All regions experienced an overall uptick in housing starts despite rising coronavirus cases across many parts of the country, led by the 35.3% increase in the Northeast. However, single-family starts actually fell slightly between June and July in both the Northeast and the Midwest. Permitting rose relatively uniformly across the country, with all four major regions seeing upticks.

Big picture: Americans’ demand for homes was at a fever pitch before the pandemic, and it’s now returned in earnest. Low mortgage rates have made buying a home a more affordable proposition for millions of Americans, while the reality of living, working, and attending school at home has prompted many households to search for bigger properties, particularly in the suburbs.”

For more, go to https://www.marketwatch.com/story/housing-starts-soar-226-in-july-as-americans-head-for-the-suburbs-in-search-of-larger-abodes-2020-08-18

Make no mistake, the pandemic has changed the way we live and work. Galphin offers this: “I hope we as a company will continue to grow in our understanding of our impact on each other from a corporate and individual perspective.  For example, we’ve seen mental health effects and the impact of charity.  We had several employees who suffered serious mental health effects and/or have been impacted by the mental health of loved ones as a result of COVID.  I want to facilitate an environment that fosters mental, spiritual, and physical health.  We did some outreach efforts like making sandwiches for a homeless shelter and I’d like to see those activities continue as partnerships more than just one-time events.  I personally lean pretty far toward the introverted end of the spectrum so I have appreciated the isolation, but I have come to appreciate my face-to-face interactions with customers and co-workers more than I ever thought I would.”

05

Oct

What has Performance Point learned about COVID 19?

Written By: John Jeppesen

Who knew a microscopic bug would bring the world to its knees? It has devastated everything…how we interact, how we shop, how we work, how we worship, how we play, how we go to school, and most importantly what we are doing about it. And finally, toilet paper is now back on the shelves.

It shut everything down a couple of months ago. Businesses were shuttered, many permanently, costing millions their jobs and livelihoods. Dark days indeed. The good news is our country is slowly and deliberately coming back. Knee jerk reactions could set the progress back to zero if we’re not careful.

The workplace is drastically different. Morning drive times instead of being miles in a car are now a short walk from the kitchen to the home office. Anybody with the foresight to buy Zoom stock is now cashing in big time. Parents with school-age kids may have to share some of their space and time homeschooling their children. It’s a brave new world these days.

So this is what we at Performance Point have been doing. Sam Galphin, the Performance Point president offers some of his insights

“The company has felt the stress of the pandemic, Galphin says: “The biggest stressors for our employees vary depending on if they have kids at home.  For employees with kids who are doing virtual school (as opposed to in-person school) managing schooling at home and childcare is probably their biggest COVID-related stress.  For employees without kids at home, I understand that social isolation has been difficult.  At this point, many people are venturing out into social settings or getting together in small groups in their homes where they can keep a safe distance or be outdoors so that helps alleviate some of the stress from social isolation.”

While some companies were blindsided, Performance was naturally ready for the “new normal.” “We were actually ready for COVID without needing to put special measures into place,” Galphin notes.  “Performance Point has operated with a paperless and distributed workforce since opening the doors in 2008.  It was easy for our office staff to work from home because most of us already did operate from home 1-2 days a week.  We have a large group of office staff that only come into the office once or twice a year; that kind of flexibility has always been a benefit to our office people.  At the very beginning of the pandemic, we did decide to continue operating a minimal staff from the office to help with some tasks that benefit from the physical presence of teammates such as our scheduling/dispatching people.  Our customers benefit from our decision to operate in this way because it allows a real-time response to customer communication.  For example, one person can look up the details on an unpaid invoice while the other person is talking to the customer and scheduling their job – we can give the scheduled date of the job they called in before they are off the phone as opposed to going back and forth.”

The field staff has also adapted. “Our field staff work independently for the most part.  The timing of our inspections on homes requires we are not in a house with other trades working as it is so that never really changed field operations.  We have had to reschedule jobs if other trades are working in the house when we arrive to prevent exposure to COVID, but in many cases, we would have had to reschedule those for other job-related reasons.”

Performance Point has learned a couple of lessons in the process says Galphin: “First, this whole situation has reinforced the understanding that we are all in this (life) together and we as individuals hold the power and responsibility to make our world better or worse.  We can choose to use our individual freedoms and resources to impact climate change, economic opportunity, and COVID for the good or for the worse.  The government isn’t or can’t ever do as much as the people acting for the good of each other.  Taxing and distributing wealth will never be as effective as people giving to the deacon fund at a local church where it can go directly to helping those in need in their local community.  The problem is that people don’t often act in a way that is best for everyone so the government has to do something.

Second, I learned we apparently work at the pleasure of our local government.  I think it is an unfortunate situation when our state and local officials have to force businesses to close for a period of time or at least force them to change their operations.  I’m not suggesting this step was not necessary, it probably was, but I would have preferred to see companies and business owners be proactive and change their operations so the government would not have a need to shut people down for weeks at a time.  I do think some research-based guidance to affected small businesses would have been helpful to prevent a mass shut down as we saw in some places.”