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Confidence grows; Builders share why

Earlier this week, the National Association of Home Builders released positive news that its builder confidence numbers rose for the third consecutive month, reaching the highest point since May 2010.

Builder confidence grew in both the South and West regions, stayed the same in the Midwest and dropped one point in the Northeast. The Southern region experienced the most growth reaching March 2008 levels.

Marshall Durrett, president, Durrett Builders, Austin, Texas, is encouraged by the latest builder confidence numbers. "Most people I talk to about the housing industry agree that a true recovery must be accompanied with jobs. Since our joblessness numbers have been improving in the U.S. lately, it only makes sense to me that housing is following. Whichever way the presidential election goes next year, at least individuals and business owners alike will be able to better predict the country's direction and can hopefully plan accordingly," he says.

Mike Scarlett, owner, Scarlett Custom Homes, moved his building company from San Diego to Dallas during the downturn, and is now seeing growth. "I can attribute the recent growth of my business through these difficult times to reinventing my business offerings to the customers. I took the downtime in building in 2009 to learn the latest in green building technology and underground shelters for the Texas market," Scarlett says.

While many custom home projects were put on hold during the downturn, Durrett sees this changing. "I have literally seen more inquiries in the last few months than I have seen in the last couple years, which is extremely promising. Architects seem to be more in the driver's seat than in the past, and stay involved throughout the entire project, so we have been focusing our marketing efforts accordingly," Durrett says. "There's still a fair amount of competition for custom home projects and whole house renovations, but informed clients know that it's wiser to pair up with a contractor early to utilize his knowledge and experience for a truly successful project."

Clients with considerable cash flow are on the lookout for opportunities, Scarlett adds. "[They] are still looking to take advantage of the green tax credits, good real estate deals and low interest rates driving their purchases," he says. "You just need to market yourself to that specific customer."

How is the market in your area? Are you seeing more projects and optimism?