NVR, Inc. (“NVR”) was formed in 1980 as NVHomes, Inc. Our primary business is the construction and sale of single-family detached homes, townhomes and condominium buildings. To more fully serve customers of our homebuilding operations, we also operate a mortgage banking and title services business. We conduct our homebuilding activities directly. Our mortgage banking operations are operated primarily through a wholly owned subsidiary, NVR Mortgage Finance, Inc. (“NVRM”).
We are one of the largest homebuilders in the United States. While we operate in multiple locations in fourteen states, primarily in the eastern part of the United States, approximately 38% of our home settlements in 2009 occurred in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD metropolitan areas, which accounted for 48% of our 2009 homebuilding revenues. Our homebuilding operations include the construction and sale of single-family detached homes, townhomes and condominium buildings under four trade names: Ryan Homes, NVHomes, Fox Ridge Homes and Rymarc Homes. The Ryan Homes, Fox Ridge Homes, and Rymarc Homes products are marketed primarily to first-time homeowners and first-time move-up buyers. The Ryan Homes product is currently sold in twenty-five metropolitan areas located in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida. The Fox Ridge Homes product is sold solely in the Nashville, TN metropolitan area and the Rymarc Homes product is sold solely in the Columbia, SC metropolitan area. The NVHomes product is marketed primarily to move-up and upscale buyers and is sold in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA and the Maryland Eastern Shore metropolitan areas. In 2009, our average price of a settled unit was approximately $296,000.
We do not engage in land development. Instead, we typically acquire finished building lots at market prices from various development entities under fixed price purchase agreements (“purchase agreements”) that require deposits that may be forfeited if we fail to perform under the purchase agreement. The deposits required under the purchase agreements are in the form of cash or letters of credit in varying amounts and represent a percentage, typically ranging up to 10%, of the aggregate purchase price of the finished lots.
We believe that our lot acquisition strategy avoids the financial requirements and risks associated with direct land ownership and land development. We may, at our option, choose for any reason and at any time not to perform under these purchase agreements by delivering notice of our intent not to acquire the finished lots under contract. Our sole legal obligation and economic loss for failure to perform under these purchase agreements is limited to the amount of the deposit pursuant to the liquidating damage provision contained within the purchase agreements. We do not have any financial guarantees or completion obligations and we typically do not guarantee lot purchases on a specific performance basis under these purchase agreements. We generally seek to maintain control over a supply of lots believed to be suitable to meet our five-year business plan.
On a limited basis, we also obtain finished lots using joint venture limited liability corporations (“LLCs”). All LLCs are typically structured such that we are a non-controlling member and are at risk only for the amount we have invested. We are not a borrower, guarantor or obligor on any of the LLCs debt. We enter into a standard fixed price purchase agreement to purchase lots from these LLCs. At December 31, 2009, we had an aggregate investment totaling approximately $25 million in ten separate LLCs. As of December 31, 2009, eight of these LLCs were non-performing and as a result, we had recorded an impairment reserve equal to our total investment of approximately $3 million in these LLCs due to our determination that our investment was not recoverable. We do not expect to obtain any lots from these eight LLCs in future periods. In the two performing LLCs, our aggregate investment totaled $22 million and we controlled approximately 760 lots. At December 31, 2009, we had additional funding commitments totaling $4 million to one of the two performing LLCs.
In addition to building and selling homes, we provide a number of mortgage-related services through our mortgage banking operations. Through operations in each of our homebuilding markets, NVRM originates mortgage loans almost exclusively for our homebuyers. NVRM generates revenues primarily from origination fees, gains on sales of loans and title fees. NVRM sells all of the mortgage loans it closes into the secondary markets on a servicing released basis.
Segment information for our homebuilding and mortgage banking businesses is included in Note 2 in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.
Current Business Environment
During 2009, the homebuilding environment in certain markets began to exhibit some stabilization after several years of declining sales and selling prices. Despite this stabilization, the homebuilding market remains challenging and many market uncertainties remain due to the continuing economic recession. Homebuyer confidence continues to be negatively impacted by concerns regarding job stability driven by historically high unemployment rates. Slowed demand and high foreclosure rates have contributed to high levels of existing and new homes available for sale. The sales of new and existing homes also continue to be adversely impacted by a tighter mortgage lending environment that has made it more difficult for our customers to obtain mortgage financing. In addition, significant future uncertainties remain as to certain of the government’s stimulus programs, which we believe helped to stabilize home prices, as the federal tax credit for first time and move-up buyers and the Federal Reserve’s purchases of mortgage-backed securities are expected to end in 2010. The termination of those programs may lead to a decline in demand and higher mortgage interest rates.
We offer single-family detached homes, townhomes and condominium buildings with many different basic home designs. These home designs have a variety of elevations and numerous other options. Our homes combine traditional or colonial exterior designs with contemporary interior designs and amenities, generally include two to four bedrooms and range from approximately 1,000 to 7,300 square feet. During 2009, the prices at which we settled homes ranged from approximately $56,000 to $2,000,000 and averaged approximately $296,000. During 2008, our average price was approximately $338,000.
Our four reportable homebuilding segments operate in the following geographic regions:
Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware
New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania
Kentucky, New York, Ohio, western Pennsylvania and Indiana
North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee
Backlog totaled 3,531 units and approximately $1.1 billion at December 31, 2009 compared to backlog of 3,164 units and approximately $1.0 billion at December 31, 2008. Backlog, which represents homes sold but not yet settled with the customer, may be impacted by customer cancellations for various reasons that are beyond our control, such as failure to obtain mortgage financing, inability to sell an existing home, job loss, or a variety of other reasons. In any period, a portion of the cancellations that we experience are related to new sales that occurred during the same period, and a portion are related to sales that occurred in prior periods and therefore appeared in the opening backlog for the current period. Expressed as the total of all cancellations during the period as a percentage of gross sales during the period, our cancellation rate was approximately 14%, 23% and 21% in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively. During 2009 and 2008, approximately 7% and 10% of a reporting quarter’s opening backlog cancelled during the fiscal quarter, respectively.
We utilize independent subcontractors under fixed price contracts to perform construction work on our homes. The subcontractors’ work is performed under the supervision of our employees who monitor quality control. We use several independent subcontractors in our various markets and we are not dependent on any single subcontractor or on a small number of subcontractors.
We do not engage in land development. Instead, we typically purchase finished lots from various land developers under fixed price purchase agreements that require deposits that may be forfeited if we fail to perform under the agreement. The deposits required under the purchase agreements are in the form of cash or letters of credit in varying amounts and represent a percentage, typically ranging up to 10%, of the aggregate purchase price of the finished lots. We are not dependent on any single developer or on a small number of developers.
Sales and Marketing
Our preferred marketing method is for customers to visit a furnished model home featuring many built-in options and a landscaped lot. The garages of these model homes are usually converted into temporary sales centers where alternative facades and floor plans are displayed and designs for other models are available for review. Sales representatives are compensated predominantly on a commission basis.
NVRM’s mortgage loans in process that have not closed (“Pipeline”) at December 31, 2009 and 2008, had an aggregate principal balance of $770 million and $730 million, respectively. Our cancellation rate was approximately 35% in 2009. During 2008 and 2007, NVRM’s loan cancellation rates were approximately 49% and 45%, respectively. We can provide no assurance that our historical loan cancellation rates are indicative of the actual loan cancellation rate that may occur in 2010.