D.R. Horton (DHI) swung to a loss for its fiscal first quarter, as both sales orders and home closings dropped. The Texas-based homebuilder reported a loss of $20.4 million, or 6 cents a share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, down substantially from income of $192 million, or 56 cents a share, a year earlier. First-quarter homebuilding revenue declined about 31% to $767.1 million from $1.1 billion a year earlier. "We still face challenges, such as rising foreclosures, significant existing home inventory, high unemployment, tight mortgage lending standards and weak consumer confidence," said Donald Horton, chairman of D.R. Horton. "While our year-over-year comparisons for net sales orders are very difficult for the next two quarters, we do expect to see an increase from the sales levels we achieved in the December quarter." One of the nation's largest homebuilder reported 3,363 sales orders in the first quarter, down about 17% from 4,037 orders a year earlier. D.R. Horton closed sales on 3,637 homes during the period, down 34% from 5,529 the prior year. Home sales were inflated at the beginning of 2010 because of the government's first-time homebuyer tax credit, which expired in April. Chairman Horton said the company will continue its long-term strategy and provide affordable housing in actively selling communities. As of Dec. 31, D.R. Horton had total assets of $5.5 billion. For its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the homebuilder reported a profit of $245.1 million, or 77 cents a share, despite a fourth-quarter loss of $8.9 million. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.