| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 5 An Arizona senator lost the
presidency on Nov. 4, but the southwestern state's homebuilding
industry won, defeating a ballot initiative billed by supporters
as a "Homeowner Bill of Rights."
By about a 4-to-1 margin, voters rejected Proposition 201,
which supporters said would have given home buyers more power to
force builders to fix defects and opponents claimed would have
been a boon for trial lawyers and an impossible burden for
"We're very pleased, we think the voters of Arizona identified
Proposition 201 as bad for Arizona and consumers in Arizona and
rejected it," said Spencer Kamps of the Home Builders Association
of Central Arizona.
After enjoying years as a center of the housing boom, Arizona
has become one of the states hardest hit by the bust. D.R. Horton
Inc (DHI.N), Lennar Corp (LEN.N) and Centex Corp (CTX.N), the
biggest U.S. builders, all operate there.
The proposition would have eliminated Arizona's mandatory
dispute resolution period between home owners and builders,
allowing owners to sue builders immediately instead, said Kamps,
whose campaign against the measure emphasized its $175,000 in
financial support from construction defect law firms with offices
in California as well as Arizona.
But "the current system is broken," said Arizona's chapter of
the AFL-CIO, the United States' largest federation of labor unions
and a Proposition 201 supporter, in a statement. The union helped
gather signatures to put the measure on the ballot on behalf of
working families with defective homes and construction workers who
felt they were forced to cut corners, spokeswoman Dana Kennedy
The proposition also would have added eight years to the
current mandatory two-year warranty and would have given buyers
100 days to cancel a contract and still receive 95 percent of
their deposit back.
"It would make deposits ridiculously high," Kamps said.
"You're not going to invest in a home until you know someone is
really a serious buyer."
According to the Arizona Secretary of State's office, builders
including Pulte Homes (PHM.N), Standard Pacific Corp SPF.N and
Toll Brothers Inc (TOL.N) donated money to a Proposition 201
opposition group, the Coalition for Affordable Housing.
The coalition in turn funded Kamps' $1.5 million effort
against the measure, which used television and radio advertising,
direct mail, yard signs and bumper stickers.
(Reporting by Helen Chernikoff)