The B&D Interview – Ed Brady

Ed Brady
NAHB’s 2016 Chairman of the Board

Ed Brady, NAHB’s 2016 Chairman of the Board, is a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. A second generation home builder, he is president of Brady Homes Illinois, one of the largest home building firms in central Illinois. The company has developed 20 residential communities throughout the state, built more than 1,800 single-family homes and developed more than 2,000 single-family lots.

Builder & Developer (B&D): What would you call your crowning achievement as chairman?
Ed Brady (EB): Throughout 2016, the NAHB senior officers and I visited with thousands of members from state and local associations in all 50 states. We heard about what issues are important to them and how NAHB can be a valuable resource. It was a top priority for me that our members know NAHB is here for them.
I’m also very proud of that fact that for the first time ever, NAHB endorsed candidates in a congressional election. Of the 137 candidates we endorsed, 94 percent won their races, and that’s a great outcome by any measure. NAHB also worked with state and local associations to recognize 150 federal legislators who have demonstrated strong support for housing with the inaugural Defender of Housing awards. The endorsements and awards help legislators understand how vital home building is to our nation’s economy and why it drives our views on regulatory overreach and the roadblocks that make it harder for families to buy homes.

B&D: If you got to choose how your tenure is perceived, what would you like your legacy with the NAHB to be?
EB: It was very important to me that NAHB and our senior officers were more accessible to our membership. As I mentioned, we were able to travel around the country, listen to members, learn about their markets, work with them on important issues and let them know NAHB is here to help them. When we stand together as a group with shared concerns, goals and values, we strengthen our industry and our businesses.

B&D: What was your reaction to being considered for FHA commissioner?
EB: I am very proud and humbled to be asked to consider this position. I think it speaks well for the work I’ve done with legislators, regulators and industry professionals by showing them the important role that the industry plays in housing finance and housing Americans. As a home builder who deals with FHA compliance on a regular basis, I would bring a real-world perspective to the job if I were nominated to be the next FHA Commissioner. President-elect Trump has nominated many practitioners to this important post, and I think I would fit that bill.

B&D: Would you bring your considerable attention to affordable housing to the FHA commissioner post should you be nominated?
EB: Yes, absolutely. We need to look not only at government-subsidized housing for low-income families but also “workforce housing,” which includes moderate-income workers who receive little or no public assistance. Housing affordability enables all Americans to have a home and adequate living conditions. Affordability affects health care, education, crime levels and many other factors that enhance a good community. It’s also a critical piece of community development and local economic growth and an important part of the housing recovery. We need to bring attention to both types of affordable housing.

B&D: How do you feel about the condition in which the homebuilding industry is entering the new year?
EB: Overall, I feel optimistic. I feel like we have opportunities but also some challenges with the new administration and new Congress. Solid job growth, rising incomes and a growing economy will help enhance our members’ businesses by increasing the demand for housing. There are also opportunities for the government to deregulate when appropriate, which will give businesses and our members the ability to produce a product that’s more affordable to the middle class. And we are hopeful that in 2017 policymakers will address housing finance reform so that we can provide certainty and stability to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA, and ensure that qualified borrowers have access to mortgage funding

B&D: What are some highlights NAHB will be focusing on for 2017?
EB: We will focus on a variety of issues that impact the industry, including regulatory reform. The home building industry faces an inordinate amount of over-regulation, which inhibits builders’ ability to produce competitively priced homes in a still recovering housing market.
We’ll also be working on tax reform to ensure we protect homeownership incentives and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to provide multifamily housing options. But tax reform is more than just housing incentives. Business tax policy will also be on the table and we represent the home building business community and so we will continue to be at the table on overall tax reform.
We’re addressing the shortage in our labor force on a number of fronts. Our HBAs have had great success with the NAHB Student Chapters program, but we also need to continue to work with Congress and the administration on comprehensive immigration reform and with Home Builders Institute, our workforce development arm, on domestic training for individuals to develop the skills that will provide labor for our industry and a job to provide for themselves and their families.

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