Fortune's Fastest

Home builders were prominent in Fortune magazine's ranking of the 100 fastest growing companies. To appear on the list, which is compiled by Zacks Investment Research and published in the issue dated September 1, companies must have achieved annual sales and EPS of at least 25 percent for three consecutive years. Scottsdale's Meritage Corp. finished just out of the top 10, at No. 11 in the ranks. Hovnanian ranked No. 15. Orleans Homebuilders catapulted to No. 29; Lennar ranks as No. 41; and D.R. Horton emerged at No. 70. Hovnanian and Meritage ranked third and fourth, respectively, in a side ranking based on total return to investors, with a three-year annualized return of 114 percent for Hovnanian and 110 percent for Meritage.

Volcanic Values

This is one for the record books. For the first time since the National Association of Realtors began tracking metropolitan home prices, values in every single metro area increased during the second quarter of 2003 compared with the same period last year. Prices in 40 of the 126 markets covered by the NAR saw record double-digit gains in that 12-month period.

10 Hottest Housing Markets
Prices in every metro area tracked by the NAR increased in the second quarter. These cities saw the biggest gains:
Market Increase Median price
Riverside/ San Bernardino, Calif. 23.5% $212,600
Providence, R.I. 23.2% $228,900
Los Angeles, Calif. 20.6% $337,200
Topeka, Kan. 20.2% $100,700
Sacramento, Calif. 20.1% $243,600
Knoxville, Tenn. 18.7% $141,300
Nassau/Suffolk, N.Y. 18.4% $363,700
Atlantic City, N.J. 18.3% $164,600
Melbourne/Titusville/Palm Bay, Fla. 16.5% $130,100
Daytona Beach, Fla. 16.4% $122,800
Source: National Association of Realtors

Texas Leads in New Housing

Texas led all states and accounted for about 10 percent of the increase in the nation's new housing inventory between July 2001 and July 2002, showing 149,000 new housing units built, according to the most recent U.S. Census data. Florida was close behind, adding 147,377 new housing units. Rounding out the top five were California (up 130,779), Georgia (up 87,909), and North Carolina (up 76,480). Every state is listed online at:

Industry Movers and Shakers

Shea Homes-Inland Empire selected Bob Yoder as its president. He previously served as vice president of community development for Shea Homes Southern California. At Shea Homes, he has been responsible for all community development management activities, including land development, entitlements, plan development, and project coordination for communities in Orange County, the Inland Empire, and South Los Angeles County. Before joining Shea in 1996, Yoder worked with Polygon Communities Inc. as their senior project manager. Yoder graduated from USC with an undergraduate degree in Economics and an MBA in Real Estate Finance.

Beazer Homes in Central Florida has made a spate of promotions. Theresa Tilton has become vice president of sales and marketing. Tilton joined Beazer Homes in the Orlando area two years ago as sales and marketing director, and she was formerly affiliated with the homebuilder's operations in Charlotte.

Beazer has also named two new community builders in its central Florida developments. Billy Thompson was named community builder at Sanctuary, Beazer's vacation home community in Polk County. A resident of Clermont, Thompson has more than 10 years of residential construction industry experience.

At Lake Sheen in Windermere, Shawn Larkin was named assistant community builder for Beazer. He is a resident of Maitland and has four years of construction industry experience.

Michael Engle joined K. Hovnanian Companies of California Inc. as vice president, community builder for the company's Dominguez Hills Village residential community in Carson, Calif. As vice president, Engle is responsible for all aspects of development, construction, and financial performance for Dominguez Hills Village, a gated community of single-family attached and detached homes with prices ranging from the high $200,000s to the mid $400,000s.

Personnel changes? E-mail Jill Ralph at:

Shea Expands Empire

Bert Selva, president and CEO of Shea Homes, announced the opening of Shea Homes Inland Empire in Southern California. The new division encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where the Southern California and San Diego divisions have already created a Shea Homes foothold. Shea, which closed 5,438 homes in 2002, grossing $1.8 billion, saw the largest number of its homes sell in Phoenix (2,007 closings). Southern California may topple Phoenix as Shea's hottest market in the near future.

Court Finds for Pulte

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims issued an opinion stating that Pulte Homes is entitled to $48.7 million, finding that the U.S. government had breached its contract with the Bloomington, Mich.-based home builder. The award will be tax-free, added the court. The dispute involved Pulte's acquisition of five failed savings and loan associations in 1988. An important part of that transaction was the availability of certain tax benefits. Subsequent legislation championed by Frank Guarini (R.-N.J.), targeted these benefits. The court found that these "Guarini" laws constituted a breach of contract. Pulte sued for damages. The decision formally awarding the money is expected by autumn. If the government files an appeal, it is unclear when the judgment would be paid.

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