Lennar is moving back into the Atlanta market, and many of the other public builders who maintained sparse outposts there throughout the downturn are looking to grow their presence in the Southern hub city as well, hoping to feast on deeply discounted land offerings.

"The nationals are really starting to crank it up," said Steve Palm, president of Smart Numbers, an Atlanta-based residential real estate information, analysis, and forecasting firm. "We are getting calls from everybody."

Why? "There are so many cheap lots available," Palm said. Banks are beginning to move lots and land they've been holding onto in the market, he added.

No news has leaked out about land Lennar might have purchased or is negotiating to buy. Lennar doesn't typically discuss market moves, said Marshal Ames, vice president of investor relations for the Miami-based company. However, the company is preparing a press release on the topic, he said Tuesday morning.

Lennar has already begun to put its personnel in place for the Atlanta operation. Todd Jones, a former Centex and Ryland division president, is president of Lennar's new Atlanta division, according to his LinkedIn profile. Jones had been Centex's Atlanta division president since August 2007 until taking the Lennar position.

Even local-based builders, such as Beazer Homes USA, which barely had any building presence at all in its hometown, have started working to build more in their own back yards. Land investor Hearthstone recently banked Beazer with some local work when it chose the builder to market, sell, and finish building out 462 lots in six communities in Atlanta, including Westchase Commons and The Lakes at Sugarloaf in Gwinnett County, The Gates at John's Creek in Fulton County, Thorngate and Olde Union Preserve in Forsyth County, and Cobblestone Creek in Cobb County.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.