By Alison Rice. Florida luxury builder WCI Communities has joined the public builder club. The Bonita Springs, Fla.-based company went public on March 12, ending its first day of trading with nearly a 20 percent gain. The stock, offered at $19 a share, closed at $22.67.

The IPO represented a realization of a long-held goal for WCI, which always planned to go public. But the timing never worked before. "Valuations [for home building stocks] were so low, and we weren't constrained for capital," says WCI president Jerry Starkey, who expects that the newly public company will see lower capital costs, improved access to financing, and higher profitability.