Thursday, September 25, 2008

Can't Say This Fills Me With a Lot of Confidence

Don't try this explanation next time a client asks you to justify your cost estimate for remodeling their kitchen. From Forbes:
"In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.
"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number." "

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

August Existing Home Sales Down 11%

Existing home sales in August dipped 10.7% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.91 million units, according to the most recent figures from the National Association of Realtors. Single family home sales dipped 9.6% to a 4.35 million-unit pace.
Through the first eight months of 2008, almost 3.38 million homes have been sold, down 17.1% from the same period of 2007.
Median sales price for an existing home in August was $203,100, down 9.5% from the same month last year. At current sales rates, there is an existing inventory of 10.4 months' worth of unsold homes, up 8.3% from the same period last year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Choosing Not to Participate

The proposed Fed bailout for the mortgage industry will be covered better elsewhere. But I do want to call the reader's attention to a peculiar paragraph in the Wall Street Journal's coverage:

"Mr. Paulson is resisting efforts to limit the pay of executives whose
firms participate in the program and plans to fight it "hard," according to a
person familiar with the matter. He fears that provision would render the
program moot, since many firms might choose not to participate."

Really? I mean, really?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Home Theatre Market to Hit $3 billion in 2013

A report (with an apparently incorrect headline) from echannel finds 7% annual growth in home theatre products and services.


Today be a great day to make your co-workers think you've lost your mind, mateys.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

August Single Family Starts Dip 35%

Single family housing starts hit their lowest pace since January of 1991, down 34.9% from the same month last year to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 630,000 units, according to the Census Bureau. Overall starts dipped 33.1% from August, 2007, to a 895,000-unit rate.
The declines should help correct the large inventory of unsold homes.
Through August, some 681,200 homes have been started, down 30.5% from the same period last year.
Building permits dipped 36.4% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 854,000 homes.

Nearly Half of Dealer Showroom Designs Are now 'Green'

Almost half of the displays at the average kitchen and bath dealer now feature sustainable products and design principles. That’s according to a recent survey of dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada conducted by the NKBA.
Nearly 95% of those dealers responding have a showroom, averaging 8.5 kitchen and bath displays and vignettes, of which about 4 feature sustainable design and products. More than half of respondents have changed their displays or vignettes to show sustainable products and principles in the past 12 months, and 68% plan to change or add “green” displays in the next 12 months.
About six out of ten dealers say their promotional literature mentions sustainable design principles and products, and 45% advertise or promote it to their local market.
Seven out of ten dealers have instituted sustainable business practices at their dealerships. Eighty one percent use recycled paper, and 80% have cut down on paper use with e-documents. Seventy-three percent have cut back on energy use for air conditioning and heating, and 68% have switched to energy-saving lighting.
Three out of four dealers recycle some or all of what they tear out when installing a new kitchen job, with 29% recycling almost all, and 4% recycling all.

Fed Bails Out AIG; WaMu Next?

The Federal Reserve has bailed out American International Group (AIG) and now owns nearly 80% of the ailing insurance giant.
And the AP says the Feds are currently trying to organize a buyout of Washington Mutual, which has been among the lenders hardest-hit by the mortgage crisis.
The Financial Times notes that AIG paid its chief executive about $61 million when it fired him earlier this year, after he had lost them more than $30 billion.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

August Kitchen Appliance Shipments Dip 8%

Some 3.3 million kitchen appliances were shipped in August, down 8.0% from the same month in 2007, according to the most recent figures from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
Through the first eight months of this year, nearly 26.5 million kitchen appliances have been shipped, down 8.9% from the same period last year.

Focus on What Matters

Good advice from Seth Godin.

Monday, September 15, 2008

37% of Dealer Kitchen Jobs Are 'Green'

About 37% of the kitchen jobs sold by kitchen and bath dealers in the past 12 months have had ecologically responsible features in them, according to a recent survey of dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada conducted by the NKBA. More than 150 dealers responded.
Some 13% of dealers say all of the jobs they’ve sold in that span are ecologically responsible, while 9% say none have been. Among bath jobs, 35% on the average have been “green.” Nearly 13% have done nothing but ecologically responsible bath jobs, while 14% have done none over the past 12 months.
More than half of the dealers responding say the price of their sustainable kitchen jobs is somewhat higher in price than non-sustainable ones. About 22% say there is no difference, while one in ten says the price for sustainable bath jobs is much higher. Fifty-three percent also say sustainable bath jobs are somewhat higher priced; 24% say there is no price difference, while 9% say the price is much higher.
Nearly two out of three dealers say they’ve encountered sales resistance among clients due to higher prices for sustainable products, but only 36% feel they’ve lost sales due to that factor. Forty-seven percent feel their ability to offer sustainable kitchen and bath designs and products has gained them sales.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fed Bails Out Mortgage Agencies

From Bloomberg:
"The U.S. Treasury's takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is aimed at
keeping the companies going into 2009, while leaving the next president and
Congress to decide their long-term structure.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart yesterday placed the two firms in a
government-operated conservatorship, ousting their chief executives and
eliminating their dividends. The Treasury may purchase up to $200 billion of
stock in the firms to keep them solvent.
``Some of this is a stopgap to try
to prevent the mortgage market from falling apart,'' former Federal Reserve Bank
of St. Louis President William Poole said on Bloomberg Radio. The federally
chartered, shareholder-owned structure, with risks covered by taxpayers, is ``an
unacceptable situation,'' he said, projecting the Treasury may need to cover as
much as $300 billion of losses. "

77% of Dealers Asked by Clients About Sustainable Design

Seventy-seven percent of dealers had customer requests or inquiries about sustainable design of kitchens or baths in the past 12 months, and three out of four brought up the subject of sustainable design without being asked.
Those are some of the results of a recent survey of kitchen and bath dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association. More than 150 dealers responded.
Nearly 12% of the dealers said clients have a high level of interest in sustainable kitchens and baths, while 56% said that clients had a moderate level. Just 28% reported a low level of interest, and under 4% reported a very low level.
About 43% said their client had done a little research on sustainability issues when they walk into the showroom, and 41% said clients had done some research. Five percent said clients had done a lot of research on the issue, while 11% said clients had done no research.
The use of renewable resources ranked highest among client concerns, said 77% of the dealers. Sixty-three percent cited health issues from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and other factors; the same number said clients cited potential energy savings. Potential water savings ranked high for 39%, 17% said carbon impact, and 8% cited other factors including use of local products and the business practices of the dealer.

Friday, September 5, 2008

July Business Barometer Shows Mixed Results

Kitchen/bath dealers averaged 32 prospects, 12 kitchen sales and and 15 bath sales during July, according to the NKBA Dealer Business Barometer. Average price of a kitchen for respondents was $32,735 and average price of a bath was $10,918.
About 41% of respondents said that the number of prospects was the same or higher than last year at this time. About half said the number of kitchen sales was the same or higher, and 51% said the number of bath sales were the same or higher.
Forty percent of respondents forecast higher dollar sales volume during the next six months, and 15% expect sales to remain level with the previous six months. Some 52% say they will be doing business as usual during the rest of 2008, and 15% plan to expand.

The Age of Invention

It's the Baconator alarm clock...

And this is a prototype by Italian bath manufacturer Teuco that rotates on the wall to become either a tub or a shower.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Maple Tops Cherry for Kitchen Cabinets in Northeast

Maple or Birds' Eye Maple was more popular than Cherry as a wood for kitchen cabinets in the Northeast during the period from April to June of this year, according to the results of the NKBA's recent Style Barometer Survey. Cherry ranked as most popular elsewhere.
White or red oak ranked third in Canada and the Northeast, but was eclipsed by alder in other regions.
Birch scored high in the South, the Northeast and Canada, while mahogany was the fourth most popular wood in the West.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Contemporary Tops Traditional Kitchen Styles Out West

Although traditional styles were the most popular kitchen styles in the East, Midwest and South, according to the NKBA's recent Style Barometer Survey, in the Western states contemporary edged out traditional , and in Canada, Shaker styles were more popular than either.
Some other regional differences: Arts & Crafts was the third most popular kitchen style in the Midwest and fourth most popular in Canada; it was fifth in the other regions.
Asian Fusion was much more popular in Canada and the West than in other regions, and Tuscan style ranked much higher in the U.S. than it did in Canada.