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IRVINE, CA-Land buying and new home sales increases, traffic showed an increase and builders expressed more optimism in a new survey of home builders. The latest survey results from John Burns Real Estate Consulting Inc. note that the Irvine-based firm’s April survey marks the third month of improvement in a row in the survey, which asks new home builders to rate a number of home-building and buying metrics, including sales, traffic, land buying, traffic of potential buyers, projected sales and other factors.

“While the improvement can be partially attributed to seasonality, we can also point to a shift in builders’ optimism in many metros,” the latest survey states. It notes that the expectations for future sales improved substantially, and that expectations rose in every single region except the Northwest.

The survey is based on a survey of 233 public and private builder executive representatives from more than 160 companies around the country, providing market ratings that represent conditions at 1,984 new home communities in 82 unique metros.

The increase in land buying shows that some 18% of the survey participants have already purchased land this year, 29% indicate they will buy land in 2Q ’09 and 47% expect to be buying by 2010. Builders are not buying in all markets, however. According to the survey’s executive summary, “There was a pronounced message that buying would not be occurring in Phoenix, Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando and Orange County for quite some time.”

The builders’ ratings of current sales reached a record level since Burns initiated the survey in June of 2008. Expectations climbed in the latest survey as the builders’ outlook “appears to be brightening,” Burns reports, with no region of the country reporting declining net sales per community this month.

The survey’s analysis of results in California attributes huge gains here to the state’s $10,000 bonus buyer tax credit. It notes that although many of the respondents in California mentioned the tax credits, their views differed on whether the tax credits were directly stimulating demand.

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