The Metropolitan Omaha Builders Association is re-evaluating the future of its annual home tours — including the Street of Dreams and the Parade of Homes — as the organization deals with financial troubles.
Jeff Brau, owner of Brau Builders and MOBA’s president, said the organization is making cuts in an effort to survive. The cuts come at a time when home construction has slowed, some home builders have gone out of business and MOBA’s membership has dropped.
MOBA recently told members it is cutting its affiliation with the National Association of Home Builders and the Nebraska State Home Builders Association, and Brau said that is meant to drop the price of members’ dues.
The organization no longer has an executive vice president running the day-to-day operations. An office finished just a few years ago might be put up for sale, Brau said.
Brau said the organization is considering whether to continue its home events, although he singled out the Omaha Home Show as one that will go on. He said the organization, which holds nonprofit status, needs to be more “bare bones” in its operation and run on revenue from dues rather than special events.
In 2009, MOBA marked its 25th consecutive year running the Street of Dreams tour of luxury homes, and officials considered that a sign of the high-end housing market’s resiliency. The organization this year ran the Remodel Omaha Tour in April, the Spring Parade of Homes in May, the 26th annual Street of Dreams in July and has a fall Parade of Homes scheduled for October.
But Brau said the home parades need new, unsold houses to show. That inventory has dropped, and builders aren’t putting up many new homes on speculation, he said.
With the luxury home tour, MOBA has to be careful because builders have to put up large homes on speculation, he said.
“That market obviously isn’t there like it was,” he said.
In a letter to members last month, Brau said MOBA’s survival is the organization’s main priority and focus.
With the housing downturn nationally, the national builders association has seen membership drop from 220,000 in 2005 to 175,000 now, spokesman Paul Lopez said. While local associations sometimes dissolve, Lopez said the national group has not seen another chapter cut ties.
After cutting its state and national affiliations, Brau said, MOBA will focus its efforts on local issues. It has been a lobbyist on such local issues as building code updates, the City Planning Department’s delay in approving building permits and suburban park fees.
Brau said it is still important for MOBA “to be around and to have a voice.”
“There’s still a lot of good builders in town,” he said. “And we want to make sure to keep it that way.”
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