When we released our Builder 100/Next 100 list a year ago, we were all reeling. Housing starts and new-home sales had contracted in April as lockdowns were ordered and the future increasingly uncertain. Builders were concerned about demand and their ability to stay open.

“Housing was crushed for six to eight weeks in March and April, and the general fear was that we were about to live through another housing bust,” notes Ali Wolf, chief economist at Zonda. “Economists, builders, developers, and other housing analysts were scouring for signs of distress, like tracking standing inventory, incentives, and prices cuts.”

But then, something happened. As Americans discovered Zoom, became part-time teachers, part-time line cooks, and jigsaw puzzle experts, a sudden focus turned to home. What followed was historic; home sales not only rebounded from April’s decline, but they would accelerate in the coming months. Concerns over demand quickly evaporated and were replaced by concerns over production capacity, labor shortages, and material costs. Zonda’s New Home Pending Sales Index, a residential real estate indicator based on the number of new-home sales contracts signed across the U.S., fell to 90.3 in April 2020, the lowest reading since its creation. By January 2021, the index skyrocketed to 174.2, a meteoric and unprecedented increase.

“Living in one space 24/7 that is our office, gym, restaurant, bedroom, and ‘third place’ forced us to reexamine how, and where, we live,” says Tim Sullivan, senior managing principal at Zonda. “Work from home gave us permission to act upon the realization that we needed better space, possibly a bigger place, and certainly a larger geography to choose from.” The resulting purchases from consumers redefining “home” boosted builders’ financial health, with two-thirds of total survey respondents seeing an increase in their gross margins during the year.

Overall, the Builder 100/Next 100 firms accounted for 441,420 new homes in 2020, a 17% increase compared with 2019. Similarly, the $165 billion in associated revenue was a 15% rise over 2019. Also, for the first time in the survey’s history, we’re including single-family build-to-rent homes in our totals. We feel this growing segment is more closely related to production of for-sale housing than it is to traditional apartment construction.

At the Builder 100 event, scheduled Sept. 8 to 10 in Dana Point, California, D.R. Horton will be honored as the builder with the Biggest Volume Increase. Data shows that the No. 1 builder on the 2021 list ended the year with a total of 71,292 closings, which is an increase of 12,858 from the previous year. Alabama-based Davidson Homes also will be recognized as the Biggest Mover, moving up 43 spots on this year’s list and breaking into the top 100 at No. 93.

Here’s a look at the top 100 and Next 100 firms ranked by 2020 closings; click here for a downloadable PDF. For more information on the rankings, email [email protected]