Ali Wolf is the Chief Economist for Zonda, the largest homebuilding prop-tech company in North America. As head of the Economics Department, Ali manages and analyzes the content for Zonda, runs special research projects, acts as a go-to advisor for the nation’s largest homebuilders, and presents nationwide covering topics across the housing market and wider economy.
Ali will present two programs at the 2022 NAHB International Builders’ Show® (IBS): “Champagne Taste, Beer Budget: Insights & Strategies for Affordably Delivering the American Dream,” and “Residential Construction Industry & Materials Outlook.”
We caught up with Ali to get a sneak peek into her programs and to get to know her better.
NAHB: Without giving too much away, what will people learn at your sessions?
ALI: Both of my sessions at IBS will reflect on the impact of housing affordability on consumer confidence and home sales.
NAHB: While attending IBS, what are you looking forward to the most?
ALI: I’m excited to get back together with industry experts from across the country. Virtual events are great, but there’s something special about those in-person connections.
NAHB: What advice would you give someone who’s attending the Builders’ Show for the first time?
ALI: Get comfortable talking to strangers. The show is huge, and you’ll often find yourself in a room with a bunch of people you don’t know. If you are waiting for a session to start, strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you.
NAHB: What’s the best hangout at IBS and why?
ALI: Happy hours. If you haven’t been invited to one, ask around to see what people are doing after the show. The happy hours allow people to reflect on all the great IBS programming in a relaxed setting.
NAHB: What’s the most interesting industry trend for 2022?
ALI: Housing starts. Consumers want more options. Builders want to provide more homes. How many homes can we actually get on the ground in an environment where labor, land, governmental delays and the supply chain are inhibiting growth.
NAHB: The industry has changed so much in the last five years. Where do you think changes will happen in the next five years?
ALI: In the way homes are built! More creativity in construction methods and materials used.
NAHB: What do you see as being the biggest challenge the industry faces now?
ALI: Housing affordability, especially if interest rates rise as anticipated.
GET TO KNOW OUR SPEAKERS
In this series of lightning-round questions, Ali shares a bit more about herself.
The best concert you ever attended: I’ve seen Paul McCartney five times in five cities. Each experience was unique, and all concerts were an absolute blast!
Your favorite place in the world: I was in West Africa (Togo, Ghana, and Benin) right before the pandemic and loved every second of it. The culture, the architecture, the way of life – everything was different from the way I live my life, and the constant learning made it a great trip.
A historical event you’d want to see: As an economist, I would like to be able to go back in time to see the Great Depression. What were policymakers thinking? How did people adapt? What could have been done differently?
Your favorite TV series: The Walking Dead
If you had to work but didn’t need the money, what would you do? I would love to work in the film industry as a director or writer or do something with animals and wildlife.
NAHB: In four words or less, what’s your prediction for the building industry in 2022? Healthier growth than 2021.
Ali’s Success Quote: I only recently started to believe these clichés– It’s all about who you know, people want to work with people they like, and hire for your weaknesses.
Both of Ali’s sessions occur on Wednesday, February 9. Plan to join us in person at IBS 2022 February 8–10 in Orlando, where you can take advantage of top-notch IBS education. Learn more at BuildersShow.com.