In an online survey launched last week, Big Builder questioned its readers to determine whether volume home builders held an advantage over smaller, local builders in select markets. The responses were fairly even, with 55.6% saying that volume home builders had not gained market share over the past 12 months and 44.4% saying that they had.

"Most of the volume home builders have left the market to local builders," said a respondent who operates Colorado Springs.

Not surprisingly, results were much the same when asked whether privately held or publicly traded home builders held a competitive advantage in those same markets, with 44.4% each selecting privates and publics, respectively, while 11.2% felt neither had the upper hand.

Noted one respondent at a national public builder's San Antonio division, "Vendors seem to have been receptive to lower prices, knowing that our checks will be good when the bill comes in."

Argued a builder in the Southeast market, "The privately held companies seem to be listening to the local buyer more than the larger, publicly traded companies."

Coming out of the downturn, 55.6% of respondents expected volume home builders to have either increased or at least sustained their market share over smaller, local players, while 22.2% anticipated a decreased market share for volume builders or were uncertain how things would play out, respectively.