Record Homeownership The overall U.S. homeownership rate reached a record 68.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Just as significantly, the data showed that the rate of homeownership for minorities reached a record 50.6 percent—the first time in history that the rate exceeded 50 percent.

SP's New Look Irvine, Calif.-based Standard Pacific Corp. is introducing a new, larger single-unit detached product line aimed at large families. The new homes, which will debut in the hot North Carolina market, will measure from 2,200 to 2,800 square feet, and prices will be in the $200,000 range.

Ryland Challenged The Ryland Group is fending off a lawsuit filed in January that charges the builder's executives with violations of the Securities Exchange Act. The suit alleges that Ryland management failed to disclose, or misrepresented, the dramatic falloff of new orders in the Texas market. Ryland reported record sales, earnings, and closings in the fourth quarter, ending Dec. 31. The report was notably upbeat despite an announcement released 12 days prior noting new orders in the fourth quarter had decreased 8.9 percent, to 2,532, with orders in Texas down 33 percent. Texas represented 18 percent of Ryland's fourth quarter orders in 2002. Marya Jones, communications manager for Ryland, said at press time that the Calabasas, Calif., company had not yet seen the complaint but was confident that the lawsuit was without merit. “We intend to aggressively defend against it once we receive the papers,” Jones said.

Everyone to Maui David Weekley Homes surpassed $1 billion in sales for the year just ended, and, as management promised, the entire company, some 4,000 people—employees and guests—will head to Maui this month to celebrate. The idea of the company-wide “bonus” grew out of a management retreat. The firm, founded in 1976, builds in 14 cities and is now the largest home builder in Texas and the second-largest privately held builder in the country. No word on how the mass bonus might affect current year sales.

Bathrooms Win While property value jumps 4 percent for every extra bedroom, the biggest impact on home value may be the number of bathrooms. Each additional facility boosts the value of a property by 24 percent, according to research done by Florida State University professors. The study revealed how the following characteristics boosted the effective selling price of homes, based on 28,800 transactions in 21 counties around greater Philadelphia from 1996 through early 2003:

Full Bathroom 24.1%
Partial bathroom 15.0%
Garage 12.9%
Central Air conditioning 12.4%
Fireplace 12.0%
Basement 9.0%
Double oven in kitchen 8.8%
Built-in refrigerator 8.4%
Sitting area in master bdrm. 8.0%
In-ground pool 7.9%
Usable attic 7.9%
Den/study 7.3%
Whirlpool tub 7.3%
Nine-foot ceilings 6.2%
Security systems 5.6%

Correction In February's Progress Report, the Concord Homes project team was misidentified. The actual team included: Roger Mankedick, executive vice president; Mike Templeton, vice president of marketing; and Heidi Bodkin, sales manager.

Metro Markets Permits The top metro markets for single-family home permits in the first nine months of 2003 were:

Metro Market Single-Family
Permits (1,000s)
1. Atlanta, Ga. 40.58
2. Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz. 35.48
3. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. 28.14
4. Houston, Texas 26.82
5. Washington, D.C. 24.58
6. Las Vegas, Nev. 23.19
7. Chicago 23.09
8. Dallas, Texas 20.99
9. Orlando, Fla. 16.67
10. Tampa-St. Petersburg 15.44
11. Minneapolis-St. Paul 15.06
12. Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, N.C. 13.43
13. Sacramento, Calif. 12.85
14. Detroit 11.47
15. Ft. Worth-Arlington, Texas 10.87
16. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C. 10.64
17. Indianapolis 10.15
18. Jacksonville, Fla. 9.83
19. Denver 9.69
20. St. Louis, Mo. 9.17
21. Philadelphia 9.13
22. Columbus, Ohio 9.12
23. Kansas City, Mo. /Kan. 8.95
24. Nashville 8.78
25. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. 8.62
26. Portland-Vancouver, Ore. /Wash. 8.45
27. W. Palm Beach-Boca Raton 8.44
28. Los Angeles-Long Beach 7.69
29. San Diego 7.55
30. Salt Lake City-Ogden, Utah 7.16
31. San Antonio, Texas 6.97
32. Ft. Myers-Cape Coral, Fla. 6.69
33. Cincinnati, Ohio 6.54
34. Greensboro-Winston-Salem, N.C. 6.40
35. Miami, Fla. 6.36
36. Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla. 6.19
37. Memphis, Tenn. 6.16
38. Austin-San Marcos, Texas 6.16
39. Daytona Beach, Fla. 6.16
40. Baltimore 6.05
41. Norfolk-Beach-Newport News, Va. 5.90
42. Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, Ohio 5.43
43. Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C. 5.37
44. Oakland, Calif. 5.27
45. Albuquerque, N.M. 5.26
46. Oklahoma City 5.07
47. Stockton-Lodi, Calif. 5.03
48. Richmond-Petersburg, Va. 4.85
49. Louisville, Ky. 4.78
50. Grand Rapids-Muskegon, Mich. 4.76
U.S. Total 1,098.81

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA, Charlotte, NC, Orlando, FL.