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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Home Builder Concerns

Aug 16, 2022 09:48AM ● By David Dykes

Wells Fargo: Home Builders See Conditions Continuing to Weaken

Wells Fargo economists said the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) fell six points in August to 49.

The drop marks the eighth consecutive decline for the HMI and marks the first time since May 2020 that the closely watched index has fallen below the key 50 breakeven level, which indicates that more home builders rate sales conditions as poor than those who rate conditions as good.

While the August HMI drop was considerably larger than consensus estimates, it hardly comes as a surprise, according to economists Mark Vitner, Charlie Dougherty and Patrick Barley.

The economists said:

+ Builders have been reporting weaker buyer traffic since early this year, and a rising number of builders have reported a spike in cancelations. Many are responding by reducing prices or offering incentives to help offset the impact of higher mortgage rates.

+ All three components of the HMI fell in August, and all three are at their lowest levels since May 2020, which was just before housing activity rebounded following the pandemic lockdown. The present sales series fell seven points in August to 57, and the future sales series fell two points to 47. Prospective buyer traffic fell five points to 32.

+ The HMI has a strong correlation with home sales and is a reliable leading indicator of single-family housing starts. Nearly one of every five home builders surveyed reported reducing prices in August, which might help explain the ten-point gap between builders' perception of current versus future sales.

The economists said there are limits on home builders' ability to cut prices to support sales. Many builders have a large number of homes under construction that are set to be completed once a buyer signs a contract.

With buyer traffic slowing even more abruptly, the economists expect new home sales and single-family housing starts to slow considerably in the coming months.

With all the discounting, new home prices should decline substantially, they said.

Breeze Airways Adds Phoenix as Newest City, With New Service to Charleston

Breeze Airways, the low-fare airline founded by aviation entrepreneur David Neeleman, is adding Phoenix, AZ, as the airline’s latest destination, with twice-weekly service to both Charleston, SC, and Provo, UT.

Breeze also is adding another four routes between existing cities, with twice-weekly service between Charleston and Los Angeles; thrice-weekly flights between Westchester and Nashville, TN; twice-weekly service between New York/Westchester, NY, and Sarasota-Bradenton, FL; and weekly service between Tampa, FL, and Syracuse, NY.

New routes include:

From Phoenix:

Charleston, SC (Wed and Sat, starting Nov. 2, Nice from $89* one way; Nicer from $179*; and Nicest from $189*).

From Charleston:

Los Angeles, CA (Fri and Mon, starting Nov. 4, Nice from $99* one way; Nicer from $189*; and Nicest from $199*); and

Phoenix, AZ (Wed and Sat, starting Nov. 2, Nice from $89* one way; Nicer from $179*; and Nicest from $189*).

From Los Angeles:

Charleston, SC (Fri and Mon, starting Nov. 4, Nice from $99* one way; Nicer from $189*; and Nicest from $199*).

Breeze said it has ordered 80 new Airbus A220-300 aircraft that will be delivered one per month over the next six years, with options for 40 more. When flying on the A220 aircraft, passengers can choose from three price bundles that are offered as ‘Nice,’ ‘Nicer,’ and ‘Nicest.’

* Introductory promotional fares are only available when booking a new reservation and on select routes. Supply is limited. No advance purchase requirement applies. 

Promotion must be purchased by Aug. 16, 2022 (11:59 pm ET) for travel by Feb. 14, 2023.

The airline said price, rules and routes displayed includes taxes and government fees. It said prices, rules, routes, and schedules are subject to change without notice.

Restrictions and blackout dates may apply, the airline said.

KeyMark, Brasfield & Gorrie Agree to Strategic Partnership

Liberty, S.C.-based KeyMark, a leading provider of intelligent automation solutions and value-added reseller, signed a strategic partnership with Brasfield & Gorrie to stimulate the company’s accounts payable (AP) department with OnBase content services and KeyMark’s proprietary AP Accelerator technology.

KeyMark CEO Jim Wanner made the announcement.

“KeyMark and Brasfield & Gorrie already maintain a longstanding and valuable partnership supporting current Kofax configurations, so it is all the more exciting to extend additional value to Brasfield & Gorrie through OnBase and our AP Accelerator plug-in,” Wanner said.

Brasfield & Gorrie has been an existing Kofax customer and KeyMark partner for nine years.

After an extensive review of marketplace options to replace their existing software, Brasfield & Gorrie selected OnBase, company officials said.

KeyMark said it will assist with the on-premise implementation of OnBase for Brasfield & Gorrie’s AP team.

The added functionality of OnBase will improve Brasfield & Gorrie’s communication between project managers with daily automated reports and enhance content management, the officials said.

They said KeyMark’s AP Accelerator technology will enable Brasfield & Gorrie to run straight-through invoice processing of existing Kofax batch classes for purchase and non-purchase-order-based invoices.

In addition, KeyMark will optimize the extraction process for up to five example batch classes, transferring necessary knowledge to a Brasfield & Gorrie Kofax Administrator and allowing the organization to continue optimizing and maintaining additional updates.

LaTorrie Geer Named New CommunityWorks CEO  

LaTorrie Geer has been named as chief executive officer of Greenville-based CommunityWorks, a $27 million dollar nonprofit financial institution founded in 2008.

CommunityWorks is a small business and affordable housing lender offering not only capital, but also business and financial coaching and support programs throughout South Carolina.

Geer joined CommunityWorks in 2012, as the program manager. She was eventually promoted to director of operations, and then to chief operating officer, which she has been for the past four years.

As COO, she has guided CommunityWorks through tremendous growth, providing program and operational leadership, compliance, relationship development, and strategic plan implementation.

Prior to joining CommunityWorks, she worked as executive vice president and director of operations at SENIOR Solutions, a nonprofit focused on serving seniors.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of South Carolina. Geer is certified as an Economic Development Finance Professional through the National Development Council.

She holds board seats with Greater Good Greenville, Generation4 (2017 Chair), and the SC Fair Lending Alliance Steering Committee.

She is a Graduate of Leadership Anderson, Leadership Oconee, Furman University’s Women’s Leadership Institute, and Furman University’s Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Initiative.

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