Al’s column

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CALLING VENDORS: The Washington State Floor Covering Association is getting set for its 2013 trade show on Feb. 26 in Lynnwood, Wash., and registration is now open for companies wanting to exhibit. Considered the largest floor covering trade show in the Northwest, the event is an opportune time for vendors to meet with their customers and potential customers from the region and exhibit their latest offerings. The market is open to all flooring dealers—retail and commercial—installers, inspectors, designers, architects and builders. Membership in the organization is not required. Heather Ostle, the association’s administrative assistant, said the organization expects approximately 90 vendors to exhibit as well as participate in seminars and demonstrations throughout the day. For more information, contact Ostle at 425.885.0012 or


FREE REGISTRATION: The 2013 National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Expo does not take place until April, but anyone planning to attend may want to think about registering sooner than later. Why? The organization will hold a drawing for one free full expo registration, an $850 value, for anyone who registers before Dec. 31. The upcoming expo takes place April 2 to 5 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Dallas. So, “Come to Dallas and Think Big with NWFA” and make your plans now to possibly save big later. From the exhibit hall to the numerous educational offerings, NWFA’s annual event is a must-attend for anyone who works with wood flooring. For more on the event or to register, visit


BUILDER CONFIDENCE: For the seventh consecutive month, builder confidence for newly built, single-family homes rose and is now at its highest point since May 2006, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The index jumped five points to 46 in November and is up from 19 at the same point last year. Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for the past 25 years, HMI gauges, among other things, builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months. The survey falls in line with the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), which improved for the third consecutive month to a total of 125 markets across the U.S. The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months.


REMODELING UP: NAHB’s Remodeling Market Index (RMI) is also on the rise as it reached its highest point since the third quarter of 2005. RMI averages ratings of current remodeling activity—maintenance and repairs; minor additions and alterations, and major additions and alterations—with indicators of future activity—calls for bids, amount of work committed for next three months, backlog of remodeling jobs and appointments for proposals—and is based on a quarterly survey of professional remodelers. While remodeling activity is improving, NAHB’s chief economist David Crowe noted, “recovery…continues to be constrained by factors such as tight credit and problematic appraisals.”


BUMPY RIDE: Adding to the positive results of NAHB’s various surveys is the fact that home prices are starting to once again rise across much of the country. And while NAHB is stating the housing recovery is now under way, it warns fiscal uncertainties and other challenges could result in a bumpy ride in the coming months. Despite various uncertainties, NAHB is forecasting a 21% increase in single-family starts this year and a further 26% climb in 2013, while multifamily housing starts are expected to rise 26% this year and 6% next year. All this bodes well for the flooring industry.


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