Each news cycle--and, boy, do they come fast and furious these days--carries extra freight for housing's long-tentative recovery path.

Today's geopolitical and economic salvo comes as negotiating brinkmanship around a global trade war plays out down to the wire, with jobs, investments, business models, and countless people's capacity to prosper in the balance.

For builders buying materials, choices will be fewer, and available options will be more expensive. But as John McManus explains, there are even more important matters at hand:

The headwind forces that plague builders today are real. Materials prices--potentially further unhinged by trade convulsions--expenses and lack-of-predictable supply for skilled labor, lot and land development costs and time delays, etc. are real, and as we've observed, each of those forces exerts an unevenhanded measure of challenge for each of the going concerns in the home building and development business community .

Each going concern has a self-preserving charter - with accountability to its own stakeholders, not to a wider secular community of businesses. But today's dilemma for housing's individual businesses is that if they don't together address the [two] hardest of business problems - how to make new inroads into the rapidly-expanding un-served market of people who need access to housing options, and how to attract the best and the brightest of new talent into the building and development field--then the risk and loss will be general.

Bottom line: Don't get distracted by materials prices now. They're the red-herring, masking bigger much bigger challenges for builders large and small.

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