Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers reported operating results through April on Tuesday morning, and the tally shows that the housing mess is far from over. Some highlights:
  • Revenue of approximately $817.9 million, down 30 percent from one year ago.
  • Inventory backlog 50 percent lower than year-ago, signaling a slowing in build activity.
  • Average prices fell to $590,000, compared to $711,000 in the year ago quarter, and $634,000 in FY 2008's first quarter (Toll's fiscal year doesn't run in tandem with the calendar year)
That said, we especially liked CEO Robert Toll's willingness to blame the media for creating downward pressure on prices:
Robert I. Toll, chairman and chief executive officer, stated: "The just-completed spring selling season was quite weak in most markets as buyers remained on the sidelines. We believe there is significant pent-up demand which is growing. When we have held promotions, buyers have come out to play and put down deposits. Often, however, a lack of confidence in the direction of home prices overcomes their enthusiasm and they don't take the next step of going to contract. They, like all of us, read the papers and watch TV, both of which keep advising them that home prices are declining.
In plain English, and to paraphrase: If only those damn media types would stop letting home buyers know what's really going on in housing, we could push a few more people into homes that are now worth an average of $590,000 versus $711,000 one year ago. Just remember, those price declines are all in your head. At least until you have to sell.