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RISMEDIA, January 20, 2010—Though December 2009 was another slow month for housing, sales and traffic picked up immediately following Christmas, and continue to show more strength into the new year, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting’s January 2010 survey of home builders.

“Traffic improvements are more about quality than about sheer numbers,” said Jody Kahn, a vice president with the firm. “Still, this better end to the year buoyed builders’ perspectives for the next six months. Now, for the first time since the downturn began, we are seeing four regions with stable new home prices: Southern California, Texas, Midwest and Southern Florida.” Interestingly, sales slowed in most of these regions as a result.

This month’s survey consists of 302 home building industry executives from public and private companies. In total, their insight is reflective of on-the-ground conditions in 90 MSAs and 2,000+ communities.

Highlights from the survey include:

-Average net sales per community held at 1.4 nationally, which is still below the recent high of 2.0 in September 2009. Only the Southern Florida, Northwest and Northeast regions reported increased net sales per community. The biggest declines were reported by the Southern California, Northern California and Texas regions.

-Four regions report prices are flat, and most see minimal price declines. The direction of new home prices shifted towards flat, after dipping slightly in our December survey. Increased incentives were widely used to move inventory by yearend, which had eroded price ratings in December

-The average unsold, finished inventory per community decreased to 3.1 units, but up from a recent low of 2.8 units. We expect to see a continued rise in inventory through March 2010 as builders start homes to be ready for a strong Spring selling season, boosted by the April 30th qualification deadline for the tax credit extension.

-Housing starts are rising, particularly in the Southeast, Midwest, Texas, Northwest and Southern California regions. Many builders are starting the year with very low inventory after strong deliveries in the fall. Every builder who can, will start homes for the March start of the spring selling season.

For more information, visit www.realestateconsulting.com.

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