April, 2010 ·  Sunday
Physical progress is well underway at the new COHBA Campus.

ALT TEXT HERE The new 2-building campus for the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
We've only been able to completely finish one of our Urbana Series homes before it sold. Demand for smaller, modern-styled energy efficient homes in Edmond and Oklahoma City is alive and well.

March, 2010 ·  Wednesday
This month's issue of Electronic House Magazine features the media room, a room which we call the "Wii™-ater Room," at the Jeff Click Homes furnished model home in the Silverhawk addition in Edmond. The room, one of three the magazine showcased in their print issue, was chosen for its cost of implementation of less than $10,000, complete with technology and modern furnishings.

Jeff Click Homes - Media Room For Under $10,000The Jeff Click Homes Wii™-ater Room at our furnished model new home in Edmond.

See a host of photos on the Jeff Click Homes Flickr Stream.
December, 2009 ·  Saturday
This week marked the end of my one year tenure as 2009 President of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association. Next up at the helm is friend and mentor, Mark Dale, as covered in this weekend's Oklahoman.

My regards for Mark, along with a summary of 2009's challenges and successes for COHBA are provided in my farewell email sent out on Monday to our membership:

A Letter from 2009 COHBA President Jeff Click
December 14, 2009

Dear (member),

As my term as 2009 COHBA President ends this week, I thought it would be meaningful to provide you with a reflective account of the year.

While my remarks are lengthy, I believe you will find them an eye-opening tribute to what the most challenging year of our industry's history has pushed us to achieve as an organization. I implore anyone who takes seriously his or her membership in our Association and industry to take time to read this in its entirety and reflect on how both blessed and challenged our Association and industry is.

When I was invited to join "The Ladder" of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association 4 years ago, it was a time when there was more wind in the sails of business than most of us could handle. The tide was riding high enough that ordinary troubles seemed to be drowned in the sea of prosperity upon which we were nearly all floating. As we made our way into 2006 and 2007, dark skies began to emerge on the horizon, and by 2008, the waters were too rough for many to stay afloat. As the tide receded through 2009, what has come to be known as the largest downturn in the housing market's history has left some treading water, washed ashore, or shipwrecked altogether.

Amidst the earlier, better times, as I learned the ropes of COHBA leadership, it was tempting to entertain grandiose ideas of vast improvement and sweeping change. But as I observed how COHBA functioned and learned more about how it came to be what it is, I realized that COHBA is an enormous vessel with a very small rudder. It's not a vessel in which one can take the wheel and make sudden turns. As my time at the helm drew near, it also became painfully obvious that 2009 would not be a year for a little intentional wave-making. The waves were already big enough.

The irony is that while we couldn't load this COHBA ship with a new cargo of weighty ideas, it was the unloading of certain cargo that liberated us to find new ways to insure that we could stay afloat and implement many of those ideas originally planned. In looking back on 2009, many important achievements were recognized:

1) The modernization of Association communication, beginning with the weekly Monday Morning Update. Electronic communication this year has saved COHBA tens of thousands of dollars through regular dissemination of Association news and updates. It also facilitated weekly run-downs of up-coming events, which helped bolster attendance and participation throughout the year.

Our electronic initiatives are merely in "phase 1" and will continue to be developed through our next President's term and beyond, with my commitment to personally see the plan through so long as it is desired by the Association.

2) The complete re-organization of the annual Parade of Homes event, which led to a new model of fund- raising, freeing the Association from the risk of debt or the burden of selling feature homes, all of which we are now free of. This year's Parade of Homes committee, led by Todd Ehlers, and Co-Chaired by Steve Allen, were faced with the difficult task of re- engineering an event that had proven successful for years, but was no longer the proper model moving forward. The committee's performance led to a successful and important fundraising event for COHBA.

3) The addition of a specialized staff member, Government Affairs Liaison John Keefe, who capably represents our industry's interests with the municipalities over which we hold jurisdiction, as well as the utility companies we work with. With John's help, COHBA Leadership successfully reached understandings relating to charges developers and builders were facing for certain utility improvements to projects, along with numerous other code, regulatory, and policy issues that, if not addressed, would have hindered and/or made it more costly to do business.

4) The continued development of pro-active public and media relations strategy, with a record number of press releases, feature stories in various news papers, and countless interviews and magazine news stories that resulted from our efforts. With continued guidance from Preston Moon and his firm, Mason & Moon, our Parade of Homes and Bricktown Home & Garden Festival captured for the first time in recent history, 3 consecutive weeks of Feature coverage in The Oklahoman's Real Estate section.

Additionally, our Association led the movement among the State's Associations in building a presence in the social media realm, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In tandem with our electronic initiatives previously cited, I commit to continued involvement in developing our public, media, and social relations strategy to build influence in the community and beyond.

5) The challenge of learning how to do selectively more, or as much, with less. As membership levels contracted, so did the Association's revenue levels. This meant that Leadership was forced to make wise cuts in spending, which was meticulously executed by our able staff. The frequency of committee and council meetings and events were reduced, while other superfluous activities and spending were curtailed. Our staff, led by our Executive Officer, Terri Akers, complied faithfully with the direction of Leadership, and I commend their efforts.

6) The experience of learning how to maintain a sense of organizational community despite not having a "home", as we navigated through affordably utilizing various venues for meetings and gatherings, despite budgetary reductions. While we miss having a usual- place-to-gather, we've discovered new advantages in introducing new venues to our menu of events to help stimulate new interest and participation within the Association's diverse membership. We owe tremendous appreciation to OPUBCO and Christy Mann for their hospitality in hosting a majority of our Board Meetings and larger educational events.

7) Perhaps a bit later than hoped for, our new campus plans are finally in the execution stages after 2 years of planning and a year of working through development and permitting. Through the persistence of Immediate Past-President, Jim McWhirter, as well as Mark Dale, Pat Casey, and Terri Akers, we now have a permit and construction is underway. We are merely months from being home builders with our own "home" again.

8) As we approach an election year, political fundraising becomes increasingly important. Not only are we in a challenging market, we're facing unsurpassed levels of political and social pressures affecting our industry. Our ability to influence legislation and policy is crucial. When our state was significantly short of it's fundraising goal committed to NAHB, COHBA members stepped up in one evening and and single-handedly not only met the state goal, but helped exceed it by raising thousands of dollars on top of what our membership already committed.

9) Lastly, but in my view among the most important, 2009 began a stirring within the younger generation of membership to step up and seek ownership of our industry's future. As the second youngest President in COHBA history, it was not without challenge that I found myself at the helm of a huge, important ship with a skilled crew, valuable cargo, and more importantly, a group of over a thousand important passengers.

I owe a debt of gratitude to those before me who provided council and support this year, such as 2010 President, Mark Dale, recent Past Presidents Jim McWhirter, Caleb McCaleb, and Perry Rice, along with Carter Foree, Don Chesser, Tom French, BK Turner, Harlen Core, Mike Gilles, and many others.

I also stand confidently behind COHBA's emerging leaders, 2010 Vice President Jim Schuff, Treasurer Nolan Coyle, our newest to join the ladder Secretary Kurt Dinnes, Membership Chair David Brookshire, Associates Chair Gina Cox, and 2010 Parade Chairman Steve Allen, along with the other up-coming committee and council chairs.

I challenge seasoned builder members Jason Schuff, Jeff Justice, Ken Chambers, and Jay Johnston, as well as newly-involved builders, like Tommy Crabtree, Tim Turner, Toby Watkins, and others to consider an appropriate time in their respective futures to ramp up involvement in this great Association, and in adding strength our industry through the next several decades. This goes for anyone else unmentioned who believes they have something to offer. I say sincerely, it is necessary and worthwhile. Plug in and help build equity in this industry's future.

To the Executive Board, the many hours in both deliberation and in good times I will hold in the highest regard. To the Board of Directors, it has been a privilege presiding over meetings and working with you through twelve months of interesting challenges and important decision-making. To the many who lead or participated in the numerous councils and committees, you are the life blood of this Association. Your hours of service do not go unnoticed. To the fabulous ladies (and John!) of our staff, thank you for your commitment to our cause, for your ability to navigate so many challenging dynamics, and for putting up with and responding to my hundreds of emails through this year. You are wonderful.

To each and every member, from those most-involved to those who perhaps may not be involved as you would like to be due to your own circumstances, I believe membership in this Association holds extraordinary value that you may not fully realize. In these challenging times, as you find yourself questioning whether you should incur the expense of renewal, know this: through this year as President, I have had my eyes opened to how profoundly important this organization is in protecting and furthering the interests of this industry. While the price of membership is by no means marginal in your budget, I assure you it is indeed an important contribution to the greater efforts it funds on your behalf. Please renew your commitment to this organization this year.

In looking forward, 2010, while in a now-familiar century, will bring forth a fresh decade. Likewise, COHBA will bring forth a familiar name and face, although one with a fresh perspective based on a legacy of great experience and service to this Association: Mark Dale. I have had the privilege of both calling him a friend and serving with him over the past several years and have learned tremendous things from him. I trust his leadership, his judgment, and his vision. I urge you to get to know him if you don't already. I believe you'll reach the same conclusion...that he is the right man at the right time to serve as Captain of this ship. He's assembled a superb crew to lead the Association next year and beyond.

It has been an honor serving you, great Association, this year as President. I thank you for your trust and support, and I hope I have done justice to the office. While I wish I could leave this year behind with calmer waters, it's likely they won't be for some time. But we have proven that this ship...COHBA, our market...still floats, and I believe one day in the not-too-distant future, it will sail again.

Keep your life preservers handy, your eyes open, and your Faith upward.

With prayers for each and every one of you, your families, and your businesses, and warmest wishes for this Christmas,

Jeff Click
2009 COHBA President
October, 2009 ·  Monday
It was a day not unlike nearly every day lately...dark, dreary...but in February, when I was scheduled to participate as one of three panelist in the ULI Real Estate Roulette, a candid back room discussion about the various inner workings of all things real estate in the Oklahoma City Metro. Mother Nature spoke her piece about my going, and unfortunately I was unable to participate.

I've been given a shot at it once again, and will be joining family friend and the "kid brother" of one of my old running buddies, along with a seasoned local journalist and downtown expert. Respectively (and respectfully), that's Blair Humphreys, Master in City Planning and Urban Design from MIT, who runs one of my favorite local industry blogs, imagiNATIVEamerica, and Steve Lackmeyer, downtown reporter for NewsOK and writer of another of my favorite blogs, OKC Central.

As described at ULI's registration page for the event:

Some of the best insights about OKC Real Estate and Urban Planning are found on the web! Now three very popular BLOGGERS join us up-close and in-person! This will be a candid "back room" event -- not the usual Yada Yada.

From the looks of the "Who's Attending" list, it should be an interesting night of dialog and insight, to which I look forward, and for which I'm grateful to be a part of.

At the very least, it'll be better than being in the storm shelter for the evening.
September, 2009 ·  Saturday
The Journal Record provides coverage of a recent conference call I moderated with Ideal Homes' Todd Booze and two Texas builders, hosted for Oklahoma and Texas lawmakers and members of the media to call for the extension of the first time buyer tax credit, solutions to appraisal issues, and addressing general market conditions that can be aided by legislation.

A significant misquote worth noting:
We are in urgent need of congressional action to pull housing marketing out of its economic downturn,” said Jeff Click, president of COHBA.

It's not housing marketing that's hurting (although for some in the industry, this shoe fits). Rather, I said it's the housing market we're seeking congressional action on.
August, 2009 ·  Wednesday
"Just In Time" delivery is a nearly impossible notion in real estate. Jadedness aside about builders seldom being able to hit project deadlines, timing the market from a raw piece of land to occupied dwelling under a typical Oklahoma City residential model of development is seldom any less than an 18-month process even for the most experienced developer.

The Journal Record's Ted Streuli compares my view of how a reduction in filings for new developments will affect prices for new homes in Oklahoma City vs. County Assessor Leonard Sullivan's comments on what seems to be applicable, at least as presented, only to existing home prices.

I disagree with the suggestion that a reduction in new developments will push more sales towards existing homes under current conditions. Demand for new homes is what it is, and in today's climate, isn't yet affected by lot supply. We have more than plenty, and those of us who pay attention know it.

Demand for new homes already holds its own against existing homes' typical lower price per foot due mainly in part to a pick-up on the difference in total cost of ownership when considering how much more energy efficient new homes are over homes built even in the last ten years.
June, 2009 ·  Saturday
For OKC's sake, it's probably a good thing Jay Leno no longer is on the Tonight Show, because there's little doubt this wouldn't have made the show.
Raising The Bar
The sidewalk leading to Red Rock Canyon Bar & Grill at Lake Hefner
May, 2009 ·  Friday
I'm in D.C. for the week at the NAHB Spring Board of Directors meeting and just got to be a part of HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan's official announcement that those eligible for the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit can now use that money directly towards their down payment. Good news for the housing industry, no doubt.
April, 2009 ·  Wednesday
The Journal Record juxtaposes my outlook on 2009 Oklahoma City Metro residential permits with that of Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa President, Brandon Perkins's forecast for the Tulsa area.

As quoted in the article, Brandon projects:

I think we could see something like a 3-percent increase this year, which is very modest, but the tortoise wins every time and that is what we’ve seen through the ‘80s.

I was asked independently what my forecast would be for the Oklahoma City Metro, to which I said:
I don’t think I would be that bold this time of the year*...I would hope he’s right. He’s pretty bright.

I haven't analyzed Tulsa's numbers like I have OKC's, and I'm not disputing Brandon's projection. But what is possible in Tulsa isn't going to happen in Oklahoma City.

I am an optimist in that I choose to seek and find opportunity and good things to pursue in situations, rather than unproductively dwelling on the negative. That being said, I can't be reckless for the sake of spin on this question in regard to what I know to be true about Oklahoma City's permit numbers.

Oklahoma City Metro's 3-Year Permit Trend w/Average
Based on our year-to-date permits pulled, we're currently down 42% over this time last year. To simply match last year's permit numbers, we would have to pull 3,920 permits between April through the end of December. That's an average of just over 435 permits a month consistently through the end of the year. We only broke that number in two months of 2008.

I just don't see it being viable here in our current market climate, nor do I hope to see it happen. Let the market continue to equalize with demand.
* As I was quoted, it leaves one to wonder if I was calling B.S. on Brandon's projection. I was asked if I had any predictions for how we'd end up for the year, to which I said "I wouldn't be so bold..." because it's too early in the year to say. The follow up question to that was what I had to say about Brandon's projection, to which I said "I would hope he's right..."
April, 2009 ·  Wednesday
Todd Booze handles The Oklahoman's Q&A today and discusses the new Certified Green Professional Builder designation adopted by the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association.

The certification requires 24-hours of association approved training with a continuing education requirement beyond the initial designation. Any home built by a CGP must obtain an independent 3rd party verification of having met one of the many possible Green standards.
April, 2009 ·  Sunday
Oklahoma City Metro area permit numbers are tallied for the month of March, 2009, and show that builders (and, perhaps, their bankers) are still keeping a firm grip on the reigns of inventory production moving into the 2nd quarter of the year. March brought forth a 10% increase in permits pulled over February, but year to date permit totals are down 42% over last year.

One noticeable characteristic of the first quarter of 2009 is the lack of spike seen in February or March previous years. There's a distinct cause for this, which I'll discuss in a subsequent post in the coming days.

In looking at the 3-year trend, an optimist can't help but wonder if this is the dip we've been waiting for...

Permit totals include single-family housing permits reported by these municipalities and/or counties: Oklahoma City, Nichols Hills, Warr Acres, Bethany, Midwest City, Village, Oklahoma County, Edmond, Yukon, Moore, Mustang, Norman, Choctaw, El Reno, Piedmont, Blanchard, Newcastle, Tuttle.
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