Record Quarters Hovnanian Enterprises, of Red Bank, N.J., reported record first quarter results for the three months ended Jan. 31, including record revenues ($775.2 million, up 24 percent from the prior year), earnings ($57.7 million, up 44 percent), deliveries (2,911 homes, up 27 percent) and backlog (6,554 homes, up 68 percent).

Meanwhile, Denver's MDC Holdings announced its best first-quarter start ever, as home orders in January and February jumped 36 percent over the same period a year ago. Its record 2,685 home orders were boosted by strong increases in California and Nevada, as well as in its newest markets in Texas, Utah, and Florida. But home orders were down 12 percent in Colorado.

Up, Up, and Away The composite prices for framing lumber and structural panels resurged to recent highs as demand has remained higher than expected. The composite price is a weighted average of 15 key framing lumber prices.


Home Appreciation The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight reported that the average U.S. home price increased 7.97 percent during 2003—the fourth consecutive year in which home prices jumped more than 7.5 percent, on average, across the country.

Home price appreciation surged in the fourth quarter, rising 3.67 percent—more than two percentage points—over the prior quarter, at an annualized rate of 14.67 percent. The figures are based on conforming loan data, which capture roughly 80 percent of all U.S. home transactions, according to Fannie Mae, which provides the data to OFHEO. The states posting the least appreciation included Utah, Texas, and Colorado. The states and major markets which posted the largest increases include:

LEADING STATES: Percent change in home prices through Dec. 31, 2003. LEADING MSAs

Population Watch

Fastest-growing counties States with the largest increase in population
States that will grow more than 40 percent from 1995-2025 (in thousands)

Excellence in Efficient HomesNew-Home Partners of the Year
D.R. Wastchak LLC (Tempe, Ariz.)
David Powers Homes (Houston)
Ence Homes (St. George, Utah)
Energy Services Group (Wilmington, Del.)
Engle Homes Colorado, (Englewood, Colo.)
MaGrann Associates (Moorestown, N.J.)
Nevada EnergySTAR Partners (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Pardee Homes (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Pulte Homes Nevada Operations (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Veridian Homes (Madison, Wis.)

EARTH FRIENDLY: Pictured (left to right) are Kathleen Hogan of the EPA; David Simon of Veridian Homes, which was honored for its EnergySTAR excellence; and Doug Faulkner, of the DOE.

The Envelope, PleaseIn a Washington, D.C., ceremony, the EPA recognized Pulte Homes' Nevada Operations, Pardee Homes, Houston's David Powers Homes, and Engle Homes Colorado as 2004 EnergySTAR Partners of the year. EnergySTAR homes are significantly more energy efficient than standard homes. This is the second year in a row that Pardee has been recognized. Every new home Pardee builds is EnergySTAR certified. Pulte has built 100 percent EnergySTAR homes in the Las Vegas Valley since 1999.

GREEN THANKS: Joyce Mason, vice president of marketing for Pardee Homes, accepts the EnergySTAR award from Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Fire Prone Despite the recent wildfires in California that killed 25 people and destroyed more than 3,600 homes, experts predict even more home building in fire-prone forested areas, and not just in California. Residents are fleeing to the woods to escape crowded cities, find lower-cost housing, or to purchase vacation homes, in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona. California's forestry department says that 7.2 million homes are in fire-prone areas in that state alone.

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