An entry level home from D.R. Horton Express
An entry level home from D.R. Horton Express

BUILDER's premier lists of the top 200 builders in the country, the BUILDER 100 and the Next 100, are set to be released next week. In light of that, we are counting down each day with some facts and figures gleaned from the data.

Maybe the starter home isn’t dead. Our analysis of the latest Builder 100/Next 100 data shows a surprising trend in one type of housing offered by U.S. home builders last year: an uptick in entry-level. This segment of the market, which has been floundering since the recession, prompted BUILDER to declare starter homes nearly extinct last year.

So editors were surprised to see a rise in the number of builders on our 2016 Builder 100/Next 100 list that reported devoting at least 50% of their business to entry level product. It was a substantial increase, with 45 builders reporting entry level work compared to 36 the year before, a 25% rise. (Click here for a report on one entry-level builder.)

To be sure, the number of builders engaged in the entry-level market is still way short of the 70 builders that reported working in that segment in 2010, and it remains to be seen whether this year’s numbers become a trend or are just a blip. But it appears that more young buyers are coming into the market, according to HomeAdvisor chief economist Brad Hunter. “The re-entry of the entry-level buyer has begun, but this group's next moves will be gradual. Income challenges remain, and there are still relatively few new home developments who target this group,” he says in this BUILDER article.

This graphic illustrates the top product types over the past six years:

In addition, 2016 Builder 100 data shows that two other important product types—move-up and luxury/custom--leveled off in 2015. Nevertheless, move-up housing continued to dominate the list with 107 builders reporting activity in that sement in 50% or more of their business. (Click here for a report on one of them.)

Three firms reported building 50% or more of their homes for affordable housing--Habitat for Humanity, NeighborWorks America, and Tropicana Properties. One builder—Stock Development—reported at least 50% of its business was in the vacation market.