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Posted 10/12/2015

TheMortgageReports.com Interview Series: Tom Woods, Chairman Of The Board, National Association of Home Builders

The Mortgage Reports interviews Tom Woods, Chairman of the Board, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

Meet Tom Woods, Chairman Of The Board, National Association of Home Builders

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo.

I started my first building company in 1969, and am now president of Woods Custom Homes. My firm has built more than a 1,000 homes and many communities in the Greater Kansas City area.

I have been very involved in the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) federation throughout my career. Before being elected to the NAHB leadership team, I chaired several committees and task forces at the national level. I also served as president of the Kansas City Home Builders Association.

I have given back to my community by serving on the Blue Springs City Council and later as the city's mayor.

I also received a presidential appointment to sit on the Des Moines Federal Home Loan Bank Board.

What does it mean to be chairman of the National Association of Home Builders?

As chairman, I represent the interests of people nationwide who make their living housing America's families.

Working with a tremendous group of volunteer members and staff, I fight for pro-housing policies that keep the housing industry moving forward and home prices affordable. These policies run the gamut from environmental and construction issues, to financial and workplace matters.

To advocate for our industry, I engage legislators and regulators, educate the public, and motivate the grassroots NAHB membership to voice their concerns.

Take us through your typical day.

That's difficult, because there really is no typical day.

Sometimes, I'm in Washington testifying before Congress or meeting with regulators. Other times, I'm speaking with legislators in their home offices or participating on a panel at a housing industry association meeting.

I also spend a considerable amount of time working with NAHB's member and staff leadership team to ensure that the association functions at peak efficiency to provide value to its 140,000 members nationwide.

I am also interviewed frequently by the media about NAHB's position on various housing issues.

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is interacting with members throughout the country.

I often travel to local and state home builder association events and find out what issues are affecting them right now. I want to know what's most important to our members, and how the national office can serve them.

Builder Confidence is at its highest level this decade. Why do you think that is?

As the housing recovery continues, builders expect improved housing market conditions as pent-up housing demand is unlocked with employment growth and gains for household formation -- the key measure of demand for new construction.

These new households, particularly among Millennials, will for the most part rent first and buy later.

But, survey after survey indicate that younger families want to become homeowners, just like past generations of Americans.

Overall, this bodes well for growth of single-family construction and this is being reflected in improved builder confidence.

What are some of the NAHB's key policy initiatives for 2016?

It is unlikely that any of NAHB's legislative priorities will be adjusted, even with an anticipated change in House leadership expected later this month.

In election years, the congressional calendar is relatively short which likely rules out consideration of comprehensive tax reform legislation or housing finance reform -- two of NAHB's signature issues.

Regulatory issues, including the Waters of the U.S. and several workforce protection rules, have risen near the top of the legislative agenda. NAHB will seek opportunities through the legislative process to prevent these rules from going into effect.

We will also pursue practical changes to rules that have gone into effect, such as the lead-paint rule, which would facilitate member compliance.

NAHB will look to advance energy legislation that ensures that only proposals will advance, that are cost-effective in nature, specifically, those energy-efficiency advancements that can be paid for within a 10-year period.

NAHB will also work to enhance the Department of Energy's ability to analyze code proposals while also limiting the Department's ability to lobby for these code changes.

NAHB will ensure that all housing programs are adequately funded through the appropriations process.

What's your outlook for U.S. housing over the next five years?

I expect continued expansion of single-family construction, with multifamily development growth easing but remaining at strong levels.

Remodeling should do well given expected growth for existing home sales.

The pace of single-family and multifamily starts should approach 1.7 million by the end of 2018.

Supply-side bottlenecks, such as labor and lot shortages, will cause stops and starts along the improving trend.

What are some of your favorite destinations for real estate and housing market news?

I turn to NAHB's news blog, which is available at NAHBNow.com. It provides a great overview of everything going on in our industry: advocacy updates, economic news and home building trends, among other items.

I also frequently visit NAHB's newly revamped website at NAHB.org for the latest information on our advocacy issues and economic data. The site also includes many resources for consumers.

Another favorite resource is NAHB's Eye on Housing blog at EyeOnHousing.org. NAHB's economics team provides great in-depth articles on a wide range of housing-related topics in this excellent publication.

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Tom Woods is a Blue Springs, Mo.-based home builder with more than 40 years of experience in the home building industry, and the 2015 Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

Woods formed his first building company in 1969, and is currently president of Woods Custom Homes. His firm has developed scores of communities and more than 1,000 homes in the Greater Kansas City area.

Woods has been active in the NAHB leadership structure at the local, state and national levels throughout his career. He has served on NAHB's Board of Directors since 1983 and has been a member of the NAHB Executive Board since 1996. He also has chaired some of NAHB's most important and influential committees, subcommittees and task forces, including Federal Government Affairs, State and Local Government Affairs, Education, the Home Builders Institute and BUILD-PAC, NAHB's political action committee.

Woods served his local community as the mayor of Blue Springs, Mo. from 1978 to 1981 and received a presidential appointment to serve on the Des Moines Federal Home Loan Bank Board from 2002 to 2005.

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