Ernest Becker of Las Vegas was installed as the new president at this year's convention of the National Association of Home Builders, becoming the third in a line of politically conservative leaders of this 95,000-member industry group.About 57,000 people (including non-members) attended this convention. Next year's convention will be held in Becker territory, Las Vegas.

At the Dallas convention center the mood was definitely upbeat. "Almost all builders had a good year so there's little interest an issues and controversy" said one veteran of these get-togethers. "The overiding issue is we have no issue," noted another.

In passing:

HUD Secretary Patricia Harris made some builders wonder why she deliberately labeled herself a "very liberal Democrat" and ruminated that her listeners at the opening keynote session are "mostly Republican." Actually, any schism within the NAHB leadership ranks is more conservative vs. liberal, rather than Democrat against Republican. Even the conservatives who decry federal interference and inflationary spending change their tune when federal subsidies for housing are sought or given.

Although the Democrats from Washington supported the Carter administration line on getting the energy bill passed, a few privately expressed reservations about the tax credit for insulation of houses suggested by President Carter last April. Shortages of insulation materials have moved NAHB and at least one manufacturer (Certain-Teed) to urge scrapping that provision.

Newly elected to NAHB's housing hall of fame were developer Hamilton Crawford of Louisiana, who started the big Crofton community in Anne Arundel County, and Washington attorney Herbert Colton who has been advising NAHB on legal matters for 32 years.

Milton E. Kettler of the Washington area building firm of Kettler Brothers, Inc., addressed a session on the NAHB home owners warranty program and praised HOW's effort for industry self-policing. "I don't see how any builder can sleep at night without the protection of the HOW (insurance against defects) program on his homes," he said.