Builders need plan
to survive, experts say

DULUTH - Builders need to create a survival plan to get through the next year's recession, experts said during a Council for Quality Growth meeting Wednesday.

While the men - banker Bob Chapin and Terry Russell of Linger Longer Communities - said people should expect a bleak business climate over the next year, they said the profits should be immense if companies can ride out the downturn.

"Housing led the country into a recession, but it's going to lead it out," Chapin said.

The housing crisis in much of the country has brought about problems with pricing, but Chapin said the real issue in Atlanta is inventory.

For years, developers took advantage of low rates and built a glut of houses, now sitting empty along with countless developed tracts, the men called "sewer tap farms."

"I think it's going to be a rocky road for some time," Russell said. "When you are in the middle of a downturn, you think it's never going to end, but it always does. ... But hope is not a strategy."

Chapin recommended builders focus on things they can control such as working hard and keeping a positive attitude.

They should work on sales training and branding, reducing the housing inventory and using a cash flow working document.

"We will get out of this. It will be better," Chapin said. "We're one day closer to there being a better market."