Largest US Luxury Home Builder Buys Land in Anticipation of Recovery

By John Gittelsohn and Peter Woodifield – Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Toll Brothers Buys Land as Quarterly Home Orders Rise

May 26 (Bloomberg) — Toll Brothers Inc., the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder, increased its land holdings for the first time in four years in anticipation of a recovery in the market.

The number of houses under contract but not yet sold rose in the three months ended April 30 for the first time on a year- over-year basis since 2006, the Horsham, Pennsylvania-based company said in an earnings statement today.

“People are not as scared any longer that a house is a lousy investment,” Chairman Robert Toll said on a conference call today. “The focus is starting to change. When a change is in the majority of the markets, which it clearly hasn’t done yet, then you’ll see a new paradigm for the business.”

After almost five years of falling sales and prices, homebuilders are looking to see if the nation’s fledgling economic recovery can sustain the real estate market as government subsidies end. Sales of new homes in the U.S. jumped 15 percent in April to an annual pace of 504,000, the highest level in two years, the Commerce Department said today.

Toll gained 17 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $20.78 at 4:08 p.m. in New York Stock exchange composite trading. The shares have climbed 10 percent this year, compared with a 7.7 percent rise in the Standard & Poor’s Supercomposite Homebuilding Index.

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