Industry leader discusses experiences from custom builder to board chair, homebuilding chapter benefits and the state of new home construction.
Alicia Huey: I was first introduced to the industry when I was working with my husband in the title insurance business and had the opportunity to volunteer on a build for Habitat for Humanity. From that moment, I fell in love with the highs and lows that each day on a job site presented. Now, over 20 years later, my company, AGH Homes, builds custom and spec homes across Birmingham, Alabama, and I’m in a position I never even considered possible: NAHB Chair.
B&D: To what extent is new home construction benefitting from the lack of resale homes? What can builders do to weather this market?
AH: New home construction is taking on an increased role in the marketplace because many homeowners with loans well below current mortgage rates are electing to stay put, and this is keeping the supply of existing homes at a very low level.
Our members are seeing an opportunity here, to take advantage of this increased strength in the new construction market. In March, 33% of homes listed for sale were new homes in various stages of construction. That share from 2000-2019 was a 12.7% average. With limited available existing inventory, our economists expect new construction will continue to be a significant part of prospective buyers’ search moving forward.
NAHB advocates on behalf of its members on a wide range of issues, and a single win in the policy arena can save builders thousands of dollars on every home they build. When more homes are built, more families have increased access to housing opportunities.”
It is likely that we’ll all continue to grapple with increased construction costs and material supply disruptions, so putting measures in place to mitigate these factors will help builders ride out the next few months.
B&D: Tell us about your experience in participation in local homebuilding chapters. What can NAHB membership and board participation, local homebuilding chapters, leadership and advocacy offer homebuilders?
AH: I have always enjoyed my involvement in our association, from the local level all the way to the national, and across multiple key committees like the Professional Women in Building Committee. Serving as chair certainly adds even more depth to this relationship; I have the opportunity to not only connect and listen, but also make real changes for the housing industry. That’s why membership and participation is so key. NAHB advocates on behalf of its members on a wide range of issues, and a single win in the policy arena can save builders thousands of dollars on every home they build. When more homes are built, more families have increased access to housing opportunities.
B&D: What achievement(s) are you most proud of in your time in the industry? As a custom builder? At NAHB?
AH: I’m really proud of the culture we’re building within the association and for the broader industry. I think COVID was a fork in the road for us as homebuilders, we could either pull together or the strain would pull us apart. And we put that boots-on-the-ground mentality to work, and I think we’re starting to create something that more people want to be a part of. That has impacts on workforce development and skilled trades training and funding, on association involvement and leadership and an overall stronger industry from the inside-out.
B&D: Tell us about your experience as a female leader in the industry, and the impact you hope to have as NAHB Chair.
AH: I believe I am here not because I am a woman, but because I am the right leader at the right time for our association and our industry. It is my goal that I am not seen as a female leader, but rather an effective leader. It’s my hope that other women leaders will not concentrate on making a mark as a woman, but making a mark as a strong leader.