Rep. Thomas L. Ashley (D-Ohio), chairman of the House Subcommittee Housing, said he had spent two hours with the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Patricia Roberts Harris, and is convinced HUD will be emphasizing housing subsidies for the poor - as well as a major new rehabilitation program for inner city neighborhoods. "We have relied too long on new construction to achieve better housing for the poor," Ashley told the home builders.
Milton E. Kettler, Washington area builder-developer, said that the entry of more and more young, single persons in the housing market means there may be a future demand for the now rarely built two-bedroom house. Such a house should "be big enough to have adequate entertaining space," Kettler said.
Kenneth Agid, residential marketing director of the Irvine Pacific Development Co., which has resorted to lotteries among applicants to sell its new, high-price houses in Orange County, Calif., told the builders that "the potential exists for a full-scale home buyer revolt. And unless we do something and do it soon, we may all be waiting in lines to find a place to live." During the four years it took to obtain zoning for the former Irvine Ranch, prices for the houses being built were doubled. Houses built in four months sold in four minutes, he added.
Sen. Thomas J. Mclntyre (D-N.H.), a member of the Senate Housing Subcommittee, told builders that thrift institutions need tools to compete for funds in the future and that the public wants more services and conveniences where saving is done. "Maintaining the status quo for thrift institutions runs counter to the most significant force of all - the market-place," he said.
Thomas Stanton, director of housing research of the Center for the Study of Responsive Law in Washington, told as consumerism panel that if the industry doesn't provide protection against defective dwellings for all buyers, federal legislation will have to be written to mandate it.
Martin Porestsky, a prize-winning Washington area builder, told a panel on "The Affordable House Revisited" that the Starr firm has decided to leave the field of "no-frill" houses because home-buyers in Washington tend to be interested in those frills. Besides, he said, other developers are building houses in the lower price ranges.
President Carter wired the convention that he hopes to create better economic conditions for the homebuilding industry. He said one of his priorities is to create an economic elimate favorable to housing production.
Robert Arquilla, the Chicago area builder who is the new president of NAHB, said at his first press conference that the 85,000 member trade association will be urging both lower mortgage rates and complementary lesser rates for savers. "It will be slow but it's coming," he said, almost as an addenda to the plea made by Rep. Henry Reoss (D-Wis.) to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to use "moral suasion" to make S & L lower their mortgage interest rates.
Although noting that new confidence in the economy has seen home buyers return strongly to the middle-price markets, more than a few builders and association leaders expressed concern about Federal Trade Commission implementation of the Magnuson-Moss Act on warranties. It affects the NAHB home owner warrenty program and builders say it causes problems with warranties on products used in their houses.