In a move that has been rumored for months, NVR has begun to sell homes in Florida under its Ryan subsidiary, increasing its stable of markets to 12 states.

Ryan Homes established itself as a corporation in Florida on May 19, noting that its logo would be blue and that it would include the slogan: "Welcoming families home for over 50 years."

The famously quiet company did not comment beyond noting that it has marked the move on its Web site, where it has colored in the state of Florida on its market map and is advertising a Sept. 1 grand opening of a model in the Cypress Lakes master-planned community near Orlando.

Orange County property records show that NVR bought 11 lots in the community June 15 for $42,000 from Jen Florida I, a limited liability corporation.

Just a month earlier, Jen Florida had bought those lots plus 55 others and what appears to be the rest of the undeveloped land in Cypress Lakes for $3.6 million from DOA Properties IX, another LLC.

It wasn't clear who DOA bought the property from, but both Engle Homes, a division of Technical Olympic USA that is liquidating some of its assets in bankruptcy, and Ryland Homes had been building in Cypress Lakes. Neither have it listed as a selling community on their Web sites.

Ryan is selling four models at Cypress Lakes, according to its Web site, starting in the upper $180s and going up as high as the upper $250s for a home with 2,900 square feet and five bedrooms.

Public records also show that Ryan Homes filed notices to commence construction on six town home lots in The Parke at Hanover Place in Casselberry, a community in Seminole County near Orlando. It was not clear whether Ryan owns the lots or is building them out for another owner. There is no mention of that development on its Web site.

NVR has ties to Florida. Chairman of the board Dwight C. Schar and president and CEO Paul C. Saville both have owned homes in the state, and division president Tom Buescher is part of the Buescher family, which owns the Florida-based Mercedes Homes, currently reorganizing in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

It has been clear that NVR is on the search for opportunity in the downturn. The Reston, Va.-based company has deep pockets and has remained profitable even as its competitors' earnings have tumbled. Pulled into bankruptcy by its excessive land holdings in the last downturn, NVR emerged promising not to let that happen again. Since then, the company has declined to speculate in land, buying finished lots just as it needs them.

However, there has been at least one exception for land in severe distress. It bought dozens of lots in Columbus, Ohio, from Beazer Homes USA last year and looked to be poised to be seeking more elsewhere. The discerning company's move into Florida might be taken as a signal that the state's land values are at or near bottom, or at least that NVR thinks so.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor at BUILDER and BIG BUILDER magazines.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL, Columbus, OH.