Top 10 Builders Slogged Through Tough 2009

The end of the housing recession did not materialize in 2009 as builders expected, and the fallout—in terms of failed companies, lost jobs, and red ink—is still spilling into 2010. But there were signs in some markets that both buyer demand and home prices had hit bottom, and that business conditions might finally improve this year. The industry’s largest 10 builders proved once again that size isn’t everything. Their combined closings in 2009, at 89,578, were off by nearly 37%, and for the third consecutive year, these builders lost market share. Only one of them—NVR—managed to turn a full-year profit. Like many of their midsize and even custom competitors, several big builders found some solace in first-time home buyers, who seemed to be the only customers able to get mortgage financing. In their pursuit of these buyers, builders added smaller, more affordable house plans to their portfolios. And a few, such as Lennar, added social networking to their marketing efforts.

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