Wonder Women Data from the National Association of Realtors show that single women accounted for 22 percent of home sales nationally in 2006—up from 14 percent in 1995. Single men purchased only 9 percent of total homes sold last year, a number that's unchanged since the mid-1990s. Builders already target women when decorating many model homes, emphasizing lighter colors and showcasing kitchens, so selling to single women should be a natural. — S. Zurier

Source: Contra Costa Times

Ranch Dressing TNDs have sparked a revival of classical elevation styles in recent years, but the tides may be turning. A recent study of 1,000 homeowners nationwide by window and door maker JELD-WEN found that when given a choice among eight architectural styles, the largest cohort of respondents (26 percent) selected ranch as the type of home in which they'd most like to live—a trend no doubt fueled by aging boomers' propensity for single-story living. Contemporary façades scored a close second (20 percent), followed by Old World Mediterranean, Craftsman, cottage, colonial, and Victorian designs. Tudor was the least popular.—J. Sullivan

Lights Out In a growing trend, state politicians in California, Connecticut, and New Jersey have introduced bills aimed at eventually banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs—the ones most people are used to—burn more energy and are being replaced by compact fluorescents that use far less. But fluorescent bulbs, which contain mercury, must be recycled or handled according to state and federal regulations. Household users of mercury-containing fluorescent lamps are typically exempt from special disposal requirements, but some states ban homeowners from disposing of the bulbs. EPA expects compact fluorescent sales to double in 2007.—N.F. Maynard


Found Money In March, Taylor Woodrow Homes launched a new Web site, FloridaGreatBuys .com, that featured 27 homes in seven communities in Florida whose prices—ranging from $263,810 for a 1,616-square-foot condo to $1,275,000 for a 3,178-square-foot oceanfront unit—had been discounted by anywhere from $27,000 to $500,000. Taylor Woodrow marketed these homes as inventory closeouts, grand-opening specials, or—in a unique twist—homes whose former buyers had walked away from their deposits. The builder offered new-home buyers access to those forfeited deposits, which they could apply to their down payments. A company spokesperson could not say how much deposit money was available.—J. Caulfield

Hot New Standard Tankless hot water heaters are now standard in 15 out of 19 of Centex Homes' Arizona communities. The Dallas-based builder recently announced a partnership with Rinnai Corp., the world's largest gas appliance manufacturer. Tankless hot water heaters are up to 50 percent more energy-efficient than traditional water heaters.—P. Curry

Green Premium A new survey by Green Builder Media of 250 home builders reports that U.S. home buyers are willing to pay a premium of 11 percent to 25 percent for “green” houses. The definition includes building practices that improve energy efficiency, indoor air quality, reduce jobsite waste, or use recycled, renewable, or non-polluting materials. The builders reported that the average buyer of a green home is college-educated and between 35 and 50 years old.—P.C.

Black and Blue In another sign of the housing market slowdown, power tool and hardware product manufacturer, Black & Decker Corp., based in Towson, Md., anticipates weak demand lingering into 2007. “We expect that key sectors of the U.S. economy will remain slow,” says Nolan D. Archibald, the company's chairman and CEO. The company, which faced weak demand and retailers reducing inventory, saw sales decrease 1 percent to $6.4 billion in fiscal 2006. Sales of power tools and accessories decreased 2 percent for the year, the company says. Black & Decker plans to continue cost-cutting measures, as its operating margins remain under pressure from high raw material prices in fiscal 2007.—E. Butterfield


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