Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers profit rises, orders jump

HORSHAM, Pa., Tue Dec 4, 2012 — Toll Brothers Inc., the largest luxury homebuilder in the United States, reported a higher quarterly profit and said new orders rose sharply, indicating that the U.S. housing market is well on its way to recovery.

The U.S. housing recovery has gained traction this year with prices for single-family homes having risen since February. Economists expect home construction to add to U.S. economic growth this year for the first time since 2005.

The Standard & Poor’s homebuilder index .GSPHOME has almost doubled in value this year.

Toll, which targets affluent customers who typically make at least $100,000 a year and have spotless credit records, said pent-up demand, rising home prices and low interest rates motivated buyers to return to the housing market in 2012.

The Federal Reserve, which has kept interest rates at rock-bottom levels since 2008 to support the housing market, launched an open-ended program to buy mortgage-backed securities in September.

Average selling prices for Toll rose to $582,000 in the fourth quarter from $565,000 a year earlier.

Toll — the only publicly traded luxury homebuilder — has gained market share as small and mid-sized private builders are constrained for capital.

June homebuilder sentiment highest in five years: NAHB

NEW YORK, Mon Jun 18, 2012– U.S. homebuilder sentiment nudged upwards in June to its highest level in five years, the National Association of Home Builders said on Monday.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose one point from the month before to 29, in another sign that the housing market may be slowly heading into recovery, and one point ahead of the expectations of economists polled by Reuters. May’s reading was previously reported as 29.

The index, however, was still below 50, meaning more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable. It has not been above 50 since April 2006.

The single-family home sales component rose to 32 from 30 in May, its highest level since April 2007. The gauge of single-family sales expectations for the next six months held steady at 34 from May, and prospective buyer traffic also remained in place at 23.

“This month’s modest uptick in builder confidence comes on the heels of a four-point gain in May and is reflective of the continued, gradual improvement we are seeing in many individual housing markets as more buyers decide to take advantage of today’s low prices and interest rates,” said NAHB chairman Barry Rutenberg in a statement.

David Crowe, NAHB chief economist, said in a statement that “overly tight lending conditions and inaccurate appraisals” are hindering the completion of further sales.

Sentiment varied by region. The northeast and south registered slight declines in June, down two points to 29 and 26, respectively. The West and Midwest saw increases of 4 and 5 points, up to 33 and 31, respectively.

Homebuilder Lennar posts sharp rise in first quarter orders

MIAMI, Fla., Tue Mar 27, 2012 – U.S. homebuilder Lennar Corp. reported its sharpest rise in orders in three quarters and said it was seeing strong signs of improvement in sales activity.

Miami-based Lennar’s new home orders have been increasing for four straight quarters as sentiment towards home purchases in the United States improves.

Low interest rates and home prices, and rising rental rates are prompting Americans to consider owning a home.

“We have seen a noticeable improvement in our sales pace per community” Lennar’s CEO Stuart Miller said in a statement.

“We have been able to increase sales prices and have started to reduce sales incentives in some of our communities,” he added and said the company would continue to be profitable in 2012.

New orders jumped 33 percent to 3,022 homes in the December-February period.

Homebuilder sentiment in March was the highest level since June 2007. And the S&P homebuilding sub-industry index .GSPHOME has doubled in value since October.

However, the recovery in the housing market is far from complete as a glut of unsold homes continue to pull down prices.

Last week, KB Home posted a surprise quarterly loss, hurt by smaller margins and more cancellations, and warned that the recovery would not be across the board.

Lennar, which also provides mortgage financing and invests in distressed real estate, said first-quarter profit was $15 million, or 8 cents a share, down from $27.4 million, or 14 cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts expected earnings of 4 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

October homebuilder sentiment highest since May 2010

NEW YORK ― Homebuilder sentiment perked up in October to its highest level in a year and a half, though ongoing challenges still kept confidence historically low, the National Association of Home Builders said on Tuesday.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index rose to 18 from 14 the month before, the group said in a statement. It was the highest level since May 2010. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted the index would rise to 15.

Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable. The index has not been above 50 since April 2006.

“This latest boost in builder confidence is a good sign that some pockets of recovery are starting to emerge across the country, as extremely favorable interest rates and prices catch consumers’ attention,” NAHB chief economist David Crowe said in a statement.

Even so, builders are being squeezed by rising materials costs and low home prices due to the glut of foreclosed homes, Crowe said.

A gauge of single family home sales rose to 18 from 14, which was also the highest level since May 2010. The gauge of sales expectations in the next six months climbed to 24 from 17, the highest since March.

Homebuilder Lennar posts bigger-than-expected quarterly profit

NEW YORK ― Homebuilder Lennar Corp. posted a larger-than-expected quarterly profit as it used more land bought at a discount, and said it expects a profitable 2011.

The third-largest U.S. builder reported earnings of $13.8 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with earnings of $39.7 million, or 21 cents per share, a year ago.

Wall Street analysts on average had expected earnings of 4 cents per share.

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes hit a six-month low in May and supply rose, the National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday, an indication of ongoing weak demand for even pre-owned homes, which are generally more affordable than the new ones built by Lennar and rivals such as PulteGroup Inc. and KB Home.

This environment took a toll even on Lennar, whose revenue fell 6 percent to $649.8 million, the company said in a statement. Lennar offered incentives of $33,900 per home to buyers ― or 12.1 percent of home sales revenue ― slightly more than last year at this time.

Miami-based Lennar, which builds homes in 14 states including Florida and California, was still able to make a profit in part because it used the housing slump to buy land more cheaply. The houses built on that land have higher margins.

Also, the company is one of the few among its rivals to start a distressed land operation, Rialto Investments, whose operating earnings were $9.8 million, up from $5.1 million last year.

Lennar’s shares were up 2.2 percent at $18.50 in thin premarket trading.