D.R. Horton managed to hold onto its position as the largest home builder in America in 2010, despite a hard challenge from PulteGroup, which absorbed Centex in 2009, becoming the largest builder in America for a time, at least on paper.

Ft. Worth, Texas-based Horton closed 18,983 homes during the 2010 calendar year, nearly 2,000 more than second-place PulteGroup (17,095). Because Pulte builds bigger homes than Horton on average, the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based company actually booked more revenue than Horton last year, $4.57 billion, compared to Horton's $4.06 billion.

Builder magazine each year ranks the top 100 builders, and the next 100, in the United States based on calendar-year closings. The full results won't be released until May 11th. But several top-level results, including the top 10 builders contained in this story, will be released during the next two weeks.

Pulte certainly had a leg up in this competition, given its Centex acquisition in 2009. In calendar year 2008, for instance, Pulte and Centex combined to deliver more than 39,000 homes, compared to Horton's 24,000. But Horton refused to give up its leadership position easily, building many homes on spec during 2010 and eagerly optioning lots.

2010 was the first year of head-to-head competition on the leaderboard between Pulte and Horton. Because Pulte's acquisition of Centex occured during the middle of 2009, many of Centex's closings were listed separately on Builder's list of 2009 closings.

Had closings for the two companies been combined, however, Pulte (with 15,013 closings in 2009) and Centex (at 6,900) would have easily surpassed Horton (with 18,164).

Horton and Pulte put some distance between themselves and other top 10 companies during 2010. Third-place Lennar Corp., based in Miami, closed 10,955 homes during calendar year 2010, and fourth-place NVR, based in Reston, Va., sold 10,030 homes.

The revenue of each of the top four home builders is now nearly double the revenue of the next closest home builder, No. 5 Los Angeles-based KB Home, which closed 7,346 homes with $1.59 billion in revenue.

In a sign of the times, the sixth largest home builder last year was a non-profit, Habitat for Humanity International, which closed 6,032 homes in the United States last year. Sales at Habitat were up a robust 14%.

Four of the top 10 home builders (Horton, PulteGroup, NVR, and Habitat) managed to increase closings last year. The top 10 home builders in last year's list were all public companies, with the exception of Habitat. Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Meritage Homes reappeared on the top 10 list this year.

Last year, the top 10 builders managed to increase their share of the overall home building market, including condos. Their share of closings industry-wide rose to nearly 25%, from roughly 20% a year before. 

Rank
Company;
2010
Closings
Change

2010 Gross
Revenue

Change
1.
D.R. Horton
18.983
+5%
$4.056 billion
+5%
2.
PulteGroup
17,095
+14%
$4.569 billion
+12%
3.
Lennar Corp.
10,955
-5%
$3.074 billion
-1%
4.

NVR

10,030
+11%
$3.042 billion
+10%
5.
KB Home
7,346
-13%
$1.590 billion
-13%
6.
Habitat for Humanity Intl.
6,032
+14%
$1.400 billion
0%
7.
Hovnanian Enterprises
5,009
-11%
$1.496 billion
-12%
8.
The Ryland Group
4,245
-17%
$1.064 billion
-17%
9.
Beazer Homes USA
4,233
-4%
$939 million
-7%
10
Meritage Homes Corp.
3,700
-8%
$942 million
-3%

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Dallas, TX.