Intense competition and greater attention to detail contributed to a broad jump in new home satisfaction, according to the latest annual J.D. Power and Associates New-Home Builder Customer Satisfaction Study. The report, which covered 21 markets -- up from 16 covered in 2002 -- registered an 8 percent improvement in customer satisfaction ratings with new homes when compared to the year before. The scores increased in every market except Charlotte, which was unchanged. Customer satisfaction in Colorado increased the most -- 19 percent -- more than double the national average. Other notable increases occurred in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Minneapolis, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

J.D. Power, based in Westlake Village, Calif., ranked nearly 270 builders based on responses from 71,312 buyers of single-family homes who have lived in their houses from four to 18 months. Buyers rated builders based on nine criteria, including quality of workmanship, price versus value, and home design. Builders making an exceptionally strong showing in multiple markets were Pulte Homes, Centex Homes, KB Home, Lennar Corp., and Standard Pacific Corp. While some builders question the validity of the results (see "Power Play"), the findings lend support for the notion that builders are building better homes.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.