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Homebuilding Returns – 06.22.2010The last column I expected to write for quite a while was to comment on the recovery of homebuilders and renewed activity in Sunbelt markets, especially Florida. Yet in the online version of the Wall Street Journal this morning there was an article reporting that homebuilders are gobbling-up cheap land in central Florida and turning on the spigot, building new product. Not long ago the expectation was that new home construction would be years, if not a decade away. But cheap land and a recovering economy is fueling a new round of homebuilding. The top 10 homebuilders are all in Florida and in other Sunbelt locations gearing-up operations. For example, Meritage Homes Corp. has 13 actively selling communities in Florida, with similar plans for Denver, Las Vegas, Arizona and parts of California: to buy land at rock-bottom prices and begin building. Every real estate depression that I have experienced produces a widely held view that recovery is more distant than ultimately is the case. I suggest that at least on the residential front this is the case, and the rebound is already in progress, albeit slowly.

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