Sam Rashkin is the author of the book, Retooling the U.S. Housing Industry: How It Got Here, Why It’s Broken, and How to Fix It. In the book, Sam presents a comprehensive strategy for transforming the new homebuyer consumer experience. He brings the lessons from this book to housing executives across the country with workshops and collaborative meetings that help them accelerate innovation.
Apart from this work, Sam has also served as national director of voluntary labeling programs for the housing industry. Under his leadership, Zero Energy Ready Home is emerging as a compelling force for change in the housing industry, and ENERGY STAR for Homes grew exponentially to more than 8,500 builder partners, over one million labeled homes, and over 25 percent market penetration nationwide.
At the NAHB International Builders’ Show® (IBS) in February, Sam will present two sessions: “How to Profit from Zero: What Other Builders Know That You Don’t (Yet)” and “Disruption Is Coming to Housing: Are You Prepared?” We caught up with Sam to get a sneak peek into his session.
NAHB: Without giving too much away, what will people learn at your session, “Disruption Is Coming to Housing: Are You Prepared?”
SAM: People attending my session will learn that disruption is imminent for the housing industry, what form it will take and how to prepare for it. The age of acceleration will disrupt every aspect of every industry except for those that see it coming.
NAHB: What is the one thing you are looking forward to the most while attending IBS?
SAM: Networking with builders. I love hanging out with builders.
NAHB: What’s the best hangout spot at IBS and why?
SAM: I love attending the education sessions and discovering new ideas and experts. But as a speaker, a great handout is the speakers’ lounge. NAHB does an amazing job making speakers feel welcome, giving them a great place to prepare and tweak their content, and a place to meet exciting thought leaders and experts who will also be presenting.
NAHB: What’s the most interesting industry trend for 2019?
SAM: The most significant housing industry trend for 2019 is the accelerated interest in offsite construction, including substantial capital investments from outside the industry.
NAHB: How has the industry changed in the past 5 years? What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years?
SAM: The housing industry’s most significant change in the past five years has been mass adoption of building science practices, even with minimum code homes. That said, there is still a long way to go getting best practices integrated across all builders, but we’ve come a long way including substantial emergence of Zero Energy and Zero Energy Ready Homes. This is a huge differentiator between new and existing homes.
NAHB: What is the biggest challenge in the industry at the moment?
SAM: Without a doubt, the single biggest challenge facing the housing industry right now is affordability. Nothing is even close. With median price to medium income ratios cruising past 5 in a vast number of markets while real estate professionals consider ratios under 33 as healthy, we’re rapidly approaching a cliff where homebuyers just can’t afford the product. But I expect that will change, and we’ll cover how during this session.
NAHB: What is one piece of practical advice you would give to someone starting out?
SAM: Stop the madness; we can no longer build overly complex and homes with extensive customization. That’s like only buying tailor-made clothes. We can deliver a better consumer experience with ‘mass customization’ at much lower cost, another topic that will be covered during the session.
NAHB: What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
SAM: Various types of creative art forms including painting, filmmaking and writing.
NAHB: What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
SAM: Tour and hike natural parks in New Zealand.
NAHB: What’s the last book you read?
SAM: Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration, by Thomas Friedman.
NAHB: If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you’d live in the rest of your life, what are the three features it would have.
SAM: This is easy: Zero Energy, natural comfort and a great floor plan.