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Builders FirstSource points to improvement

BY Ken Clark

Builders FirstSource, the Dallas-based pro dealer, posted its best operating performance since the third quarter of 2007.

The company’s third quarter had sales of $217.2 million, up 20.4% from the same quarter last year. The company’s net loss narrowed to $11.6 million, down from $20.5 million in the third quarter of 2010. 

The company reported gross margin percentage was 20.5%, up from 19.7%, a 0.8 percentage point increase from the third quarter of 2010. Specifically, margins improved 1.1% points due to increased sales volume combined with a decrease of fixed costs in costs of goods sold, which was offset slightly by a 0.4 percentage-point decrease in sales price.

"Though our financial results have continued to show improvement, the housing market remains very challenging, as does the overall state of the economy," said CEO Floyd Sherman. 

According to Sherman, demographic trends and growing population must at some point boost demand for housing. "We are still optimistic about the long-term outlook of our industry, due largely to the increasing disparity between the current low level of housing starts and the on-going housing demand being created by current demographic trends," he said.

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Toll Brothers partners with EchoFirst

BY Brae Canlen

Luxury home builder Toll Brothers has partnered with EchoFirst, a solar energy provider, to build new communities in Arizona that provide a complete solar energy system for water, heating and cooling. EchoFirst supplements conventional solar electric PV panels with solar thermal technology that generates electricity for hot water, as well as thermal energy for heating and cooling the home. This enables Toll Brothers to offer homes that use 70% to 80% less energy than a standard code-built home, according to the announcement.

“We’re focused on delivering superior energy monitoring and applications, and Echo was the clear choice in the Arizona market,” said Mark Bailey, VP of Toll Brothers. “We’re thrilled that buyers of Toll Brothers homes in new communities in Arizona –Stratland Estates in Gilbert and Wingate Ranch in Scottsdale — can realize the tremendous benefits of Echo’s game-changing technology.”

Based in Fremont, Calif., Toll Brothers serves move-up, empty-nester, active-adult, and second-home buyers and operates in 19 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

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Existing-home sales decline in September

BY HBSDealer Staff

Total existing-home sales in September decreased 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.91 million from an upwardly revised 5.06 million in August, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The September figure is 11.3% above the 4.41 million-unit pace in September 2010.

This drop in existing-home sales comes just a day after the release of September housing starts, which showed 15% growth. 

“Existing-home sales have bounced around this year, staying relatively close to the current level in most months,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “The irony is affordability conditions have improved to historic highs and more creditworthy borrowers are trying to purchase homes, but the share of contract failures is double the level of September 2010. Even so, the volume of successful buyers is higher than a year ago and is remaining fairly stable — this speaks to an unfulfilled demand.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $165,400 in September, down 3.5% from September 2010. Distressed homes accounted for 30% of sales in September (18% were foreclosures, and 12% were short sales), down from 31% in August and 35% in September 2010.

Total housing inventory decreased 2% to 3.48 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.5-month supply, compared with an 8.4-month supply in August. 

Single-family home sales fell 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.33 million in September from 4.49 million in August, but are 12.2% above the 3.86 million-unit level in September 2010. The median existing single-family home price was $165,600 in September, down 3.9% from a year ago. 

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 2.6% to an annual level of 790,000 in September and are 6.8% above a year ago. Existing-home sales in the Midwest slipped 0.9% in September to a pace of 1.09 million but are 17.2% higher than September 2010. In the South, existing-home sales declined 2.6% to an annual level of 1.89 million in September but are 10.5% above a year ago. Existing-home sales in the West fell 8.8% to an annual pace of 1.14 million in September but are 10.7% higher than September 2010.

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