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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Housing Market Stirs - More Hammers Swinging

It's a tough call, trying to pinpoint the precise time our industry recovers from the most serious economic malaise since World War II, but there are increasing signs of life from the sectors we serve.

Toll Brothers Inc.'s stock jumped Wednesday after the luxury homebuilder posted its first annual increase in signed contracts in four years.

New home contracts rose 3 percent from the third fiscal quarter last year, and the number was up a surprising 44 percent from the second fiscal quarter this year. Toll told the Associated Press that demand was so robust the company has been able to scale back the incentives it offered to get buyers in the door.

Toll sold 792 homes, generating $461.3 million in revenue for the three months ended July 31. Revenue was down 42 percent from the same period last year because home prices have declined and Toll has fewer communities around the country.

"Although some of our markets are still stuck in the mud, many are improving," Robert Toll, the company's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Other major builders - including D.R. Horton Inc., Pulte Homes Inc. and Centex Corp. - all recently reported better earnings for the first half of the year.

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