Similar to most other homebuilders, M.D.C. Holdings (MDC +3.8%) and Beazer Homes (BZH +4.2%) both reported sizable drops in order and closings volume for the quarter ended March 31, but also showed boosts in average sales prices more than offsetting the volume declines.
Amid difficult credit and construction cost issues, as well as tough competition for building lots, homebuilders have been focusing on higher prices, but at some point the loss of customers will be too great.
Given that, D.R. Horton's (DHI +2.2%) introduction of Express Homes "targeted at the true entry level buyer" will be an experiment worth paying attention to. Getting young buyers to compromise on location and buy a relatively inexpensive home is one thing, but getting them past the high barrier today to get a mortgage will be another.