Despite rising unemployment, there have been a few signs of encouragement for both the economy and housing of late. To get a gauge on whether that has translated into a spring selling season for new-home builders, Big Builder Online surveyed its readers last week.

The good news was all of the respondents said they have seen increased traffic. "Buyers are entering the market finally realizing the opportunities that exist," said one respondent.

Half of the respondents said the entry-level market was benefiting the most, while 12.5% of respondents saw increased interest in both first-time move-ups and second-time move-ups.

Three-quarters of the respondents said they are pushing the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit in their marketing to attract more potential first-time home buyers.

Comparing this year's spring selling season to 2008, 62.5% of respondents said 2009 will be more productive, while 25% said they are not that optimistic and 12.5% said they are still unsure.

"2008 carried a backlog of work. 2009 has been steady, no backlog, yet," one respondent commented.