Meritage Buys Citation

Meritage Corp. announced it has bought the home building assets of Orange Co.-based Citation Homes of Southern California, which controls approximately 900 lots in the Inland Empire market. Steve Hilton, co-CEO of Meritage, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Plano, Texas, said that he expects Citation to close about 175 homes in 2004, generating about $50 million.

Name Change

M/I Schottenstein Homes Inc. announced it was changing its name to M/I Homes Inc. and that Robert Schottenstein was promoted from president to CEO of the new company. Irving Schottenstein will continue as chairman of the board.

Centex Spin-Off

Dallas-based Centex Corp. spun off Centex Construction Products (CXP) in late January. CXP will now be called Eagle Materials Inc. CXP is a Dallas-based company that manufactures and distributes cement, gypsum wallboard, recycled paperboard, and concrete and aggregates.

Industry Movers and Shakers

Centex Corp. has announced that Laurence Hirsch will retire, effective March 31, 2004. Hirsch has held the post of CEO since 1988 and served as the company's Chairman of the Board since 1991. Hirsch will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board of a separate company known as Centex Construction Products. Neil Devroy, vice president of communications at Centex, said that Hirsch's retirement memo to the company began: "I'm writing this today to tell you that I'm firing myself. In keeping with company policy, I'm giving myself 90 days' notice."

"It was very typical Larry," said Devroy.

Timothy Eller, Centex's current president and COO, has been elected by the Board to replace Hirsch. In addition to being named chairman and CEO, Eller will retain the titles of president and COO. Eller joined Centex in 1973.

In other news, it has been announced that Gail Peck has been named vice president and treasurer for Centex Corp. Peck joined Centex in 2001 as managing director of corporate finance. She will be responsible for the issuance of the company's public and private unsecured debt and credit facilities.

David Weekley Homes, based in Houston, has appointed Jon Calbert to area president, overseeing operations in Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Charleston, S.C. Previously, Calbert served as president of the home builder's Atlanta division, a position he held for five years.

Colorado-based Village Homes has announced that Matt Osborn has been promoted to the executive team of the family owned company. Osborn has been named vice president of marketing operations. Osborn has been with company since 1993. In other news, Gayl Price has been promoted to vice president of sales and marketing for Village Homes' Northern division. Price joined the company in 1994. She also has held chairman and committee positions with the Denver Metro Homebuilder's Association.

Charter Homes, based in Pennsylvania, has named two employees to its team. Timothy Shelley has been appointed neighborhood sales manager for the builder's Millcreek Neighborhood. Shelley has more than four years of experience in sales. Jennifer Todd has been named executive administrative assistant to Charter Homes' vice president of operations. She has more than three years of experience in administration and marketing in the real estate industry.

Home Run

Home construction stocks out- performed all but four of 87 industry sectors in 2003, based on year-end U.S. index figures compared to the prior year, according to Dow Jones data. The top 20 growth sectors are:

Dow Jones Indexes Energy Premium

Energy-efficient homes command a premium. A study by the EPA, Cornell University, and the NAHB Research Center calculates how much energy efficient upgrades enhance residential property values. The research found that home prices increase by between $11.63 and $20.73 for every $1 shaved from utility bills, and $528 for every inch of insulation. Depending on the standards used in construction, energy-efficient upgrades add from $1,315 to $3,416 to the home price. Research now turns to how energy efficiency affects home prices by neighborhood and location. The study was published in the Nov./Dec. 2003 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Contact:

Home Front

* Two-thirds of homeowners watch home-improvement television shows, and of those, almost 75 percent use what they see to tackle projects in their own homes, according to Lowe's Companies.

Big Builder Quarterly Financial Scoreboard Calendar fourth quarter and latest 12 months results -- reported through Jan. 29. 2004.
Public builders turned in dramatic gains in fourth quarter and year-end results, feuled by surges in closings and improved margins. (Revenues include land sales, financial services, and other income. Net income is after tax and extraordinary items. Closings are U.S. units delivered.)

Click here to view the chart.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.