Toll Brothers chairman and CEO Robert Toll said nobody asks him anymore if the market has hit bottom or turned the corner.
"I think that is a granted," Toll said during the company's fourth quarter preliminary earnings call Nov. 11. "The housing depression ended in March of '09."
With signed sales contracts up 42% in numbers and 62% in dollars from last year, Toll Brothers' numbers certainly support that. Still, Toll said he isn't convinced subsequent quarters will be as fruitful. Demand has been "volatile" since Labor Day, he said.
But that's to be expected, Toll said, adding it's similar to the pattern of improvement during the last downturn in the late '80s to early '90s.
"I think we are in the same place as we were in May or June of 1991," he said, then later added, "[Recovery] will come in fits and starts. There will be months when we feel lousy. There will be months when we feel back on top. But it feels to me that we are going to work our way out of it and into success again."
Toll said the company's business has improved in New York, Connecticut, Dallas, and Northern California. "Oddly enough, this is pretty close to the order of things as we came out of the [last] recession," he said.
In an answer to a question about land deals that might be coming to market, Toll said there are deals now, but they are being bid up beyond what should be reasonable.
"What we think is happening is you are getting land funds bidding" on properties, he said. Recently Toll came in eighth in a bid for some California land. "After 40-something years in the business, I would have hoped that we would have come closer than eight," he added.
Toll acknowledged that at some point the company will need to buy land. "We've got to do it, but we have to make sure we don't get caught up in a bidding war."