Via housing economist Tom Lawler: Excerpt from Toll Brothers Earnings Press Release
“In our fourth quarter, despite a healthy economy, we saw a moderation in demand. Fourth quarter contracts declined 15% in dollars and 13% in units compared to a difficult comp from one year ago. Fourth quarter demand slowed to a per community pace more consistent with FY 2016’s fourth quarter, which was still strong.Lawler adds: Toll Brothers’ fiscal fourth quarter (and fiscal year) ended October 31, 2018. For the three months ending 10/31/18 Toll Brothers’ net contracts in California totaled 226 (at an average contract price of $1,815,800), down 39.4% from the comparable quarter of 2017 (when the average contract price was $1,624,400).
“In November, we saw the market soften further, which we attribute to the cumulative impact of rising interest rates and the effect on buyer sentiment of well-publicized reports of a housing slowdown. We saw similar consumer behavior beginning in late 2013, when a rapid rise in interest rates temporarily tempered buyer demand before the market regained momentum.
“California has seen the biggest decline. Significant price appreciation over the past few years, fewer foreign buyers in certain communities, and the impact of rising interest rates all contributed to this slowdown. But California is the world’s fifth largest economy with diverse, job-creating industries, including vibrant technology companies, a large concentration of wealth, and desirable lifestyle options. With our attractive coastal California land, our leading brand, and the state’s constrained supply of housing, we continue to believe in our long-term position in the California market.”