The outlook of 150 sales managers at new-home communities in 18 markets turned negative in March, according to Wachovia Capital Markets' "Neighborhood Watch Survey."

In a report on the survey, Wachovia's senior home-building analyst, Carl Reichardt, noted, "The modest rebound we saw in our February survey data appears to have fizzled; March seemed a clear disappointment to many sales managers." He also noted, "Sales managers reported conditions as having deteriorated across all metrics in March from February: 'better-than-expected' responses fell and 'worse-than-expected' responses rose across all survey questions."

In the survey, 38% cited better-than-expected traffic, below the 41% in Feb. but slightly higher than the 36% reported Mar. 06, and 18% cited worse-than-expected traffic, above the 15% in February and the 11% reported in March 2006. Of the 150, 36% reported better-than-expected traffic quality (desire or ability to purchase), below the 40% in February but above the 33% reported last March, and 19% reported worse-than-expected traffic quality--the worst reading in the survey's history--above the 15% in Feb. and the 9% seen in 2006.

In terms of sales, 35% reported better-than-expected sales, below the 38% reported in February but above 33% a year ago. However, 26% noted worse-than-expected sales rates, up from 22% last month and 21% last year. Price rises also slowed, with 22% of respondents reporting an increase in base prices over the last 30 days, well below the 31% reported in February and the 43% reported in March of last year. Base-price cuts were reported by 7% versus 6% last month and 3% a year ago.

The markets include Baltimore, Philadelphia/N.J., Washington D.C., Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, Orlando, Tampa, Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Austin, Dallas/Ft.Worth, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Inland Empire, Northern California, Orange County and San Diego.

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