D.R. Horton, Inc. (DHI) - Description of business

Company Description
" --> ITEM 1.   BUSINESS D.R. Horton, Inc. is the largest homebuilding company in the United States, based on our domestic homes closed during the twelve months ended September 30, 2006. We construct and sell high quality homes through our operating divisions in 27 states and 84 metropolitan markets of the United States, primarily under the name of D.R. Horton, America’s Builder. D.R. Horton, Inc. is a Fortune 500 company, and our common stock is included in the S&P 500 Index and listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DHI.” Unless the context otherwise requires, the terms “D.R. Horton,” the “Company,” “we” and “our” used herein refer to D.R. Horton, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and its predecessors and subsidiaries. Donald R. Horton began our homebuilding business in 1978. In 1991, we were incorporated in Delaware to acquire the assets and businesses of our predecessor companies, which were residential home construction and development companies owned or controlled by Mr. Horton. In 1992, we completed our initial public offering of our common stock. From inception, we have consistently grown the size of our company by investing our available capital into our existing homebuilding markets and into start-up operations in new markets. Additionally, we have acquired numerous other homebuilding companies, which have strengthened our market position in existing markets and expanded our geographic presence and product offerings in other markets. The effectiveness of our organic growth and acquisition strategies enabled us to become the largest homebuilding company in the United States, a distinction we have maintained for our last five fiscal years. Our homes generally range in size from 1,000 to 5,000 square feet and in price from $90,000 to $900,000. For the year ended September 30, 2006, we closed 53,099 homes with an average closing sales price of approximately $273,900. Through our financial services operations, we provide mortgage banking and title agency services to homebuyers in many of our homebuilding markets. DHI Mortgage, our wholly-owned subsidiary, provides mortgage financing services, principally to purchasers of homes we build and sell. We originate mortgage loans, then package and sell them and their servicing rights to third-party investors shortly after origination on a non-recourse or limited recourse basis. Our subsidiary title companies serve as title insurance agents by providing title insurance policies, examination and closing services, primarily to purchasers of homes we build and sell. Our financial reporting segments consist of six homebuilding segments and a financial services segment. Our homebuilding operations are by far the most substantial part of our business, comprising approximately 98% of consolidated revenues and approximately 95% of consolidated income before income taxes in fiscal 2006. During fiscal 2006, our total consolidated revenues were $15.1 billion, and our total consolidated income before income taxes was $2.0 billion. Our homebuilding reporting segments generate most of their revenues from the sale of completed homes, with a lesser amount from the sale of land and lots. In addition to building traditional single-family detached homes, the homebuilding segments also build attached homes, such as town homes, duplexes, triplexes and condominiums (including some mid-rise buildings), which share common walls and roofs. The sale of detached homes generated approximately 80%, 83%, and 84% of home sales revenues in fiscal 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively. Our financial services segment generates its revenues from originating and selling mortgages and collecting fees for title insurance agency and closing services. We make available, as soon as reasonably practicable, on our Internet website all of our reports required to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These reports include our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, changes in beneficial ownership reports on Forms 3, 4, and 5, proxy statements and amendments to such reports. These reports may be accessed by going to our Internet website and clicking on the “Investor Relations” link. We will also provide these reports in electronic or paper format to our stockholders free of charge upon request made to our Investor Relations department. Information on our Internet website is not part of this annual report on Form 10-K. Our principal executive offices are located at 301 Commerce Street, Suite 500, Fort Worth, Texas 76102. Our telephone number is (817) 390-8200, and our Internet website address is www.drhorton.com. Operating Strategy Our overall operating strategy has long been to take advantage of opportunities to grow our homebuilding business profitably through capturing greater market share, while continuing to maintain a strong balance sheet. To execute our strategy we have invested our available capital in our existing homebuilding markets through our capital allocation process and entered satellite markets as opportunities were available. We have also evaluated homebuilding acquisition opportunities as they arose. The market conditions in our homebuilding markets have softened considerably during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2006. Although we believe the long-term fundamentals which support home sales demand remain solid and the current negative conditions in many of our markets will moderate over time, we cannot predict the duration and severity of the current market conditions. Consequently, while our long-term strategy remains to continue to profitably grow our homebuilding business, our focus while the market conditions are weaker will primarily be upon continued strengthening of the financial condition of the Company by reducing inventories of homes and land, thereby increasing liquidity. Geographic Diversity From 1978 to late 1987, our homebuilding activities were conducted in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We then began diversifying geographically by entering additional markets, both through start-up operations and acquisitions. We now operate in 27 states and 84 markets. This provides us with geographic diversification in our homebuilding inventory investments and our sources of revenues and earnings. We believe our diversification strategy mitigates the effects of local and regional economic cycles and enhances our growth potential. Typically, we do not invest material amounts of capital in real estate, including raw land, developed lots, models and speculative homes or overhead in start-up operations in new markets, until such markets demonstrate growth potential and acceptance of our products. While we believe there are long-term growth opportunities in our existing markets, we also intend to continue our diversification strategy by seeking to selectively enter new markets, primarily through the opening of satellite operations in smaller markets near our existing operating divisions. We also continue to evaluate opportunities to enter new markets or strengthen our presence in our existing markets through acquisitions of other homebuilding companies. Economies of Scale We are the largest homebuilding company in the United States in terms of number of homes closed in fiscal 2006. By the same measure, we are also either the largest or one of the five largest builders in many of our markets in fiscal 2006. We believe that our national, regional and local scale of operations has provided us with benefits that may not be available in the same degree to some other smaller homebuilders, such as:   •  Negotiation of volume discounts and rebates from national, regional and local materials suppliers and lower labor rates from certain subcontractors;     •  Earlier opportunities on large land parcels, as land sellers may present parcels for sale to us sooner due to our strong presence in a market;     •  Efficient land entitlement processes, as we often dedicate full-time staff to work with municipalities to resolve difficult land and lot entitlement concerns; and     •  Greater access to and lower cost of capital, due to our strong balance sheet and our lending and capital markets relationships with national commercial and investment banking institutions. Our economies of scale have contributed to our strong homebuilding operating margins over the years. Our operating margins have provided us with operational flexibility to compete for additional market share in each of our markets and in new satellite markets versus our competitors with lower operating margins. Decentralized Operations We decentralize our homebuilding activities to give more operating flexibility to our local division presidents. At September 30, 2006, we had 41 separate homebuilding operating divisions, some of which are in the same market area and some of which operate in more than one market area. Generally, each operating division consists of a division president; land entitlement, acquisition and development personnel; a sales manager and sales personnel; a construction manager and construction superintendents; customer service personnel; a controller; a purchasing manager and office staff. We believe that division presidents and their management teams, who are familiar with local conditions, have better information on which to base decisions regarding local operations. Our division presidents receive performance bonuses based upon achieving targeted financial and operational measures in their operating divisions. Operating Division Responsibilities Each operating division is responsible for:   •  Site selection, which involves  — A feasibility study;  — Soil and environmental reviews;  — Review of existing zoning and other governmental requirements; and  — Review of the need for and extent of offsite work required to meet local building codes;   •  Negotiating lot option or similar contracts;     •  Obtaining all necessary land development and home construction approvals;     •  Overseeing land development;     •  Selecting building plans and architectural schemes;     •  Selecting and managing construction subcontractors and suppliers;     •  Planning and managing homebuilding schedules; and     •  Developing and implementing marketing plans. Centralized Controls We centralize the key risk elements of our homebuilding business through our regional and corporate offices. We have seven separate homebuilding regional offices. Generally, each regional office consists of a region president, legal counsel, a chief financial officer, a purchasing manager and limited office support staff. Each of our region presidents and their management teams are responsible for oversight of the operations of up to eight homebuilding operating divisions, including:   •  Review and approval of division business plans and budgets;     •  Review and approval of all land and lot acquisition contracts;     •  Allocation of inventory investments within corporate guidelines;     •  Oversight of land and home inventory levels; and     •  Review of major personnel decisions and division president compensation plans. Our corporate executives and corporate office departments are responsible for establishing our operational policies and internal control standards and for monitoring compliance with established policies and controls throughout our operations. The corporate office also has primary responsibility for direct management of certain key risk elements and initiatives through the following centralized functions:   •  Financing;     •  Cash management;     •  Risk and litigation management;     •  Allocation of capital;     •  Issuance and monitoring of inventory investment guidelines to regional homebuilding operations;     •  Environmental assessments of land and lot acquisitions;     •  Approval and funding of land and lot acquisitions;     •  Accounting and management reporting;     •  Internal audit;     •  Information technology systems;     •  Administration of payroll and employee benefits;     •  Negotiation of national purchasing contracts;     •  Management of major national or regional supply chain initiatives;     •  Monitoring and analysis of margins, returns and expenses; and     •  Administration of customer satisfaction surveys and reporting of results. Cost Management We control our overhead costs by centralizing certain administrative and accounting functions and by closely monitoring the number of administrative personnel and management positions in our operating divisions, as well as in our regional and corporate offices. We also minimize advertising costs by participating in promotional activities sponsored by local real estate brokers. We control construction costs by striving to design our homes efficiently and by obtaining competitive bids for construction materials and labor. We also negotiate favorable pricing from our primary subcontractors and suppliers based on the volume of services and products we purchase from them on a local, regional and national basis. We monitor our construction costs on each house through our purchasing and construction budgeting systems, and we monitor our inventory levels, margins, returns and expenses through our management information systems. Acquisitions We have recently focused on internal growth, strengthening our balance sheet and increasing our liquidity. However, as an integral component of our operational strategy, we continue to evaluate opportunities for strategic acquisitions. We believe that, in some instances, expanding our operations through the acquisition of existing homebuilding companies can provide us benefits not found in start-up operations, such as:   •  Established land positions and inventories;     •  Existing relationships with municipalities, land owners, developers, subcontractors and suppliers;     •  Proven product acceptance by homebuyers; and     •  Immediate impact on our total home closings and revenues, which can provide improved costs in many parts of the company through volume pricing incentives in some of our national and regional purchasing contracts. In evaluating potential acquisition candidates, we seek homebuilding companies that have excellent reputations, track records of profitability and strong management teams. We seek to limit the risks associated with acquiring such companies by conducting extensive operational, financial and legal due diligence on each acquisition and by only acquiring homebuilding companies that we believe will have a positive impact on our earnings within an acceptable period of time. We believe that our acquisition evaluation and due diligence processes combined with our decentralized operating approach with centralized controls have contributed to the successful integration of our prior acquisitions. Markets We conduct our homebuilding operations in all of the geographic regions, states and markets listed below, and we conduct our mortgage and title operations in many of these markets. The names of the regions and the markets comprising each region reflect the aggregation of our homebuilding operating segments into six separate reportable regions.       State   Reporting Region/Market       Northeast Region Delaware   Central Delaware     Delaware Shore Georgia   Savannah Illinois   Chicago Maryland   Baltimore     Suburban Washington, D.C. Minnesota   Minneapolis/St. Paul New Jersey   North New Jersey     South New Jersey New York   Sullivan County North Carolina   Brunswick County     Charlotte     Greensboro/Winston-Salem     Raleigh/Durham Pennsylvania   Philadelphia     Lancaster South Carolina   Charleston     Columbia     Greenville     Hilton Head     Myrtle Beach Virginia   Northern Virginia Wisconsin   Kenosha     Southeast Region Alabama   Birmingham     Huntsville     Mobile Georgia   Atlanta     Macon Florida   Daytona Beach     Fort Myers/Naples     Jacksonville     Melbourne     Miami/West Palm Beach     Ocala     Orlando     Pensacola     Tampa     South Central Region Louisiana   Baton Rouge Oklahoma   Oklahoma City Texas   Austin     Bryan/College Station     Dallas     Fort Worth     Houston     Killeen/Temple     Laredo     Rio Grande Valley     San Antonio     Waco       State   Reporting Region/Market       Southwest Region Arizona   Casa Grande     Phoenix     Tucson Colorado   Colorado Springs     Denver     Ft. Collins New Mexico   Albuquerque     Las Cruces Texas   Lubbock Utah   Salt Lake City     California Region California   Bay Area     Central Valley     Lancaster/Palmdale     Imperial Valley     Los Angeles County     Orange County     Riverside/San Bernardino     Sacramento     San Diego County     Ventura County Nevada   Reno     West Region Hawaii   Hawaii     Maui     Oahu Idaho   Boise Nevada   Las Vegas Oregon   Albany     Bend     Eugene     Portland Washington   Bellingham     Eastern Washington     Olympia     Seattle/Tacoma     Vancouver       When evaluating new or existing homebuilding markets, we consider the following local, market-specific factors, among others:   •  Economic conditions;     •  Job growth;     •  Land availability;     •  Land entitlement and development processes;     •  New home sales activity;     •  Competition;     •  Secondary home sales activity; and     •  Prevailing housing products, features and pricing. Land Policies Typically, we acquire land after we have completed appropriate due diligence and generally after we have obtained the rights (“entitlements”) to begin development or construction work resulting in an acceptable number of residential lots. Before we acquire lots or tracts of land, we will, among other things, complete a feasibility study, which includes soil tests, independent environmental studies and other engineering work, and evaluate the status of necessary zoning and other governmental entitlements required to develop and use the property for home construction. Although we purchase and develop land primarily to support our homebuilding activities, we also sell lots and land to other developers and homebuilders. We also enter into land/lot option contracts, in which we obtain the right, but generally not the obligation, to buy land or lots at predetermined prices on a defined schedule commensurate with anticipated home closings or planned land development. Our option contracts generally are non-recourse, which limits our financial exposure to our earnest money deposited with land and lot sellers. This enables us to control significant land and lot positions with minimal capital investment, which substantially reduces the risks associated with land ownership and development. Almost all of our land positions are acquired directly by us. We avoid entering into joint venture arrangements due to their increased costs and complexity, as well as the loss of operational control inherent in such arrangements. We are a party to a very small number of joint ventures that were acquired through acquisitions of other homebuilders. All of these joint ventures are consolidated in our financial statements. We attempt to mitigate our exposure to real estate inventory risks by:   •  Managing our supply of land/lots controlled (owned and optioned) in each market based on anticipated future home closing levels;     •  Monitoring local market and demographic trends, housing preferences and related economic developments, such as new job opportunities, local growth initiatives and personal income trends;     •  Utilizing land/lot option contracts, where possible;     •  Limiting the size of acquired land parcels to smaller tracts, where possible;     •  Generally commencing construction of custom features or optional upgrades on homes under contract only after the buyer’s receipt of mortgage approval and receipt of satisfactory deposits from the buyer; and     •  Monitoring and managing the number of speculative homes (homes under construction without an executed sales contract) built in each subdivision. Construction Our home designs are selected or prepared in each of our markets to appeal to local tastes and preferences of homebuyers in each community. We also offer optional interior and exterior features to allow homebuyers to enhance the basic home design and to allow us to generate additional revenues from each home sold. Substantially all of our construction work is performed by subcontractors. Subcontractors typically are retained for a specific subdivision pursuant to a contract that obligates the subcontractor to complete construction at an agreed-upon price. Agreements with the subcontractors and suppliers we use generally are negotiated for each subdivision. We compete with other homebuilders for qualified subcontractors, raw materials and lots in the markets where we operate. We employ construction superintendents to monitor homes under construction, participate in major design and building decisions, coordinate the activities of subcontractors and suppliers, review the work of subcontractors for quality and cost controls and monitor compliance with zoning and building codes. In addition, our construction superintendents play a significant role in working with our homebuyers by assisting with option selection and home modification decisions, educating buyers on the construction process and instructing buyers on post-closing home maintenance. Construction time for our homes depends on the weather, availability of labor, materials and supplies, size of the home, and other factors. We typically complete the construction of a home within four to six months. We typically do not maintain significant inventories of construction materials, except for work in progress materials for homes under construction. Typically, the construction materials used in our operations are readily available from numerous sources. We have contracts exceeding one year with certain suppliers of our building materials that are cancelable at our option with a 30 day notice. In recent years, we have not experienced delays in construction due to shortages of materials or labor that have materially affected our consolidated operating results. Marketing and Sales We market and sell our homes through commissioned employees and independent real estate brokers. We typically conduct home sales from sales offices located in furnished model homes in each subdivision, and we typically do not offer our model homes for sale until the completion of a subdivision. Our sales personnel assist prospective homebuyers by providing them with floor plans, price information, tours of model homes and assisting them with the selection of options and other custom features. We train and inform our sales personnel as to the availability of financing, construction schedules, and marketing and advertising plans. As market conditions warrant, we may provide potential homebuyers with one or more of a variety of incentives, including discounts and free upgrades, to be competitive in a particular market. In the current weak market conditions, we have significantly increased the level of incentives we are offering to homebuyers in many markets. We advertise in our local markets as necessary. We advertise in newspapers, marketing brochures and newsletters. We also use billboards, radio and television advertising and our Internet website to market the location, price range and availability of our homes. To minimize advertising costs, we attempt to operate in subdivisions in conspicuous locations that permit us to take advantage of local traffic patterns. We also believe that model homes play a substantial role in our marketing efforts, so we expend significant effort to create an attractive atmosphere in our model homes. In addition to using model homes, in certain markets we build a limited number of speculative homes in each subdivision. These homes enhance our marketing and sales efforts to prospective homebuyers who are relocating to these markets, as well as to independent brokers, who often represent homebuyers requiring a completed home within 60 days. We determine our speculative homes strategy in each market based on local market factors, such as new job growth, the number of job relocations, housing demand, seasonality, current sales contract cancellation trends and our past experience in the market. We determine the number of speculative homes to build in each subdivision based on our current and planned sales pace, and we monitor and adjust speculative homes inventory on an ongoing basis as conditions warrant. We typically sell a substantial majority of our speculative homes while they are under construction or immediately following completion; however, the softness in the current market conditions and related high cancellation rates have increased our speculative homes inventory to approximately 50% of our total homes in inventory as of September 30, 2006, up from 41% as of September 30, 2005. Our sales contracts require an earnest money deposit of at least $500. The amount of earnest money required varies between markets and subdivisions, and may significantly exceed $500. Additionally, customers are generally required to pay additional deposits when they select options or upgrade features for their homes. Most of our sales contracts stipulate that when customers cancel their contracts with us, we have the right to retain their earnest money and option deposits; however, our operating divisions occasionally choose to refund such deposits. Our sales contracts also include a financing contingency which permits customers to cancel and receive a refund of their deposits if they cannot obtain mortgage financing at prevailing or specified interest rates within a specified period. Our contracts may include other contingencies, such as the sale of an existing home. Depending upon market conditions, the sales contracts used in certain subdivisions may also contain restrictions aimed at limiting purchases of our homes by speculative investors who plan to purchase our homes and then quickly place the homes up for resale. As a percentage of gross sales orders, cancellations of sales contracts in fiscal 2006 were 28%, and our quarterly cancellation rates increased throughout fiscal 2006 to 40% in the fourth quarter, significantly higher than our typical historical range of 16% to 20%. The length of time between the signing of a sales contract for a home and delivery of the home to the buyer (closing) averages between three and six months. Customer Service and Quality Control Our operating divisions are responsible for pre-closing quality control inspections and responding to customers’ post-closing needs. We believe that prompt and courteous response to homebuyers’ needs during and after construction reduces post-closing repair costs, enhances our reputation for quality and service, and ultimately leads to significant repeat and referral business from the real estate community and homebuyers. We provide our homebuyers with a limited one-year warranty on workmanship and building materials. The subcontractors who perform the actual construction also provide us with warranties on workmanship and are generally prepared to respond to us and the homeowner promptly upon request. In addition, we typically provide a supplemental ten-year limited warranty that covers major construction defects, and some of our suppliers provide manufacturer’s warranties on specified products installed in the home. Customer Mortgage Financing We provide mortgage financing services principally to purchasers of our homes in the majority of our homebuilding markets through our wholly-owned subsidiary, DHI Mortgage. DHI Mortgage coordinates and expedites the entire sales transaction by ensuring that mortgage commitments are received and that closings take place in a timely and efficient manner. DHI Mortgage originates mortgage loans for a substantial portion of our homebuyers and, when necessary to fulfill the needs of some homebuyers, also brokers loans to third-party lenders who directly originate the mortgage loans. During the year ended September 30, 2006, approximately 94% of DHI Mortgage’s loan volume related to homes closed by our homebuilding operations, and DHI Mortgage provided mortgage financing services for approximately 68% of our total homes closed. For loans that it originates, DHI Mortgage packages and sells the loans and their servicing rights to third-party investors shortly after origination on a non-recourse or limited recourse basis. In markets where we currently do not provide mortgage financing, we work with a variety of mortgage lenders that make available to homebuyers a range of mortgage financing programs. Title Services We serve as a title insurance agent in selected markets by providing title insurance policies, examination and closing services to purchasers of homes we build and sell, through our subsidiary title companies. We currently assume little or no underwriting risk associated with these title policies. Employees At September 30, 2006, we employed 8,772 persons, of whom 1,432 were sales and marketing personnel, 2,764 were executive, administrative and clerical personnel, 2,846 were involved in construction and 1,730 worked in mortgage and title operations. We had fewer than 20 employees covered by collective bargaining agreements. Employees of some of the subcontractors which we use are represented by labor unions or are subject to collective bargaining agreements. We believe that our relations with our employees and subcontractors are good. Competition The homebuilding industry is highly competitive. We compete in each of our markets with numerous other national, regional and local homebuilders for homebuyers, desirable properties, raw materials, skilled labor and financing. We also compete with resales of existing homes and with the rental housing market. Our homes compete on the basis of quality, price, design, mortgage financing terms and location. Our financial services business competes with other mortgage lenders, including national, regional and local mortgage bankers and other financial institutions, some of which have greater access to capital markets, different lending criteria and potentially broader product offerings. Governmental Regulation and Environmental Matters The homebuilding industry is subject to extensive and complex regulations. We and the subcontractors we use must comply with various federal, state and local laws and regulations, including zoning, density and development requirements, building, environmental, advertising and real estate sales rules and regulations. These requirements affect the development process, as well as building materials to be used, building designs and minimum elevation of properties. Our homes are inspected by local authorities where required, and homes eligible for insurance or guarantees provided by the FHA and VA are subject to inspection by them. These regulations often provide broad discretion to the administering governmental authorities. In addition, our new housing developments may be subject to various assessments for schools, parks, streets and other public improvements. Our homebuilding operations are also subject to a variety of local, state and federal statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations concerning protection of health, safety and the environment. The particular environmental laws for each site vary greatly according to location, environmental condition and the present and former uses of the site and adjoining properties. Our mortgage company and title insurance agencies must also comply with various federal and state laws and regulations. These include eligibility and other requirements for participation in the programs offered by the FHA, VA, GNMA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These also include required compliance with consumer lending and other laws and regulations such as disclosure requirements, prohibitions against discrimination and real estate settlement procedures. All of these laws and regulations may subject our operations to examination by the applicable agencies. Seasonality We have typically experienced seasonal variations in our quarterly operating results and capital requirements. In prior years, we generally had more homes under construction, closed more homes and had greater revenues and operating income in the third and fourth quarters of our fiscal year. This seasonal activity increases our working capital requirements for our homebuilding operations during the third and fourth fiscal quarters and increases our funding requirements for the mortgages we originate in our financial services segment at the end of these quarters. As a result, our results of operations and financial position at the end of the third and fourth fiscal quarters are not necessarily representative of the balance of our fiscal year. In fiscal 2006, 57% of our consolidated revenues was attributable to operations in the third and fourth fiscal quarters. In contrast to our typical seasonal results, due to softening homebuilding market conditions during fiscal 2006, only 46% of our consolidated operating income was attributable to operations in the third and fourth fiscal quarters. This decrease was primarily due to the increased use of incentives to sell homes and inventory impairment charges and land option cost write-offs recorded during the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2006. We expect that we will experience our historical seasonal patterns of revenues and operating income in future fiscal years. ITEM 1A.   RISK FACTORS Discussion of our business and operations included in this annual report on Form 10-K should be read together with the risk factors set forth below. They describe various risks and uncertainties to which we are or may become subject. These risks and uncertainties, together with other factors described elsewhere in this report, have the potential to affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, strategies or prospects in a material and adverse manner. Because of the cyclical nature of our industry, changes in general economic, real estate construction or other business conditions could adversely affect our business or our financial results. Cyclical Industry.   The homebuilding industry is cyclical and is significantly affected by changes in general and local economic conditions, such as:   •  employment levels;     •  availability of financing for homebuyers;     •  interest rates;     •  consumer confidence;     •  levels of new and existing homes for sale;     •  demographic trends; and     •  housing demand. These may occur on a national scale or may affect some of the regions or markets in which we operate more than others. If adverse conditions affect any of our larger markets, they could have a proportionately greater impact on us than on some other homebuilding companies. An oversupply of alternatives to new homes, such as rental properties and used or foreclosed homes, including homes held for sale by investors and speculators, can also depress new home prices and reduce our margins on the sales of new homes. During fiscal 2006, the homebuilding industry experienced an industry-wide softening of demand for new homes. In many markets, home price appreciation over the past several years had attracted real estate investors and speculators. As price appreciation slowed in fiscal 2006, the demand from investors and speculators for new homes also slowed, resulting in an increase in new homes available for sale. At the same time, existing homes offered for sale by investors and speculators increased. In response to higher inventories of both new and existing homes, homebuilders increased the use of sales incentives to continue to sell new homes. In the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2006, we experienced a decrease in our net sales orders due to a decrease in homebuyer consumer confidence and a related increase in sales contract cancellations, both of which we believe were caused by the continued increase in the level of sales incentives offered by both builders of new homes and sellers of existing homes. Our use of incentives also contributed to significantly lower gross margins on the homes we closed during those quarters. We cannot predict the duration or severity of the current market conditions, nor provide any assurances that the adjustments we have made in our operating strategy to address these conditions will be successful. Risks Related to National Security.   Continued military deployments in the Middle East and other overseas regions, terrorist attacks, other acts of violence or threats to national security, and any corresponding response by the United States or others, or related domestic or international instability, may adversely affect general economic conditions or cause a slowdown of the national economy. Inventory Risks.   Inventory risks are substantial for our homebuilding business. Our long-term ability to build homes depends upon our acquiring land suitable for residential building at affordable prices in locations where our potential customers want to live. We must anticipate demand for new homes and continuously seek and make acquisitions of land for replacement and expansion of land inventory within our current markets and for new markets. In some markets, this has become more difficult and costly. The risks inherent in controlling or purchasing and developing land increase as consumer demand for housing decreases. Thus, we may have acquired options on or bought and developed land at a cost we will not be able to recover fully or on which we cannot build and sell homes profitably. Our deposits for building lots controlled under option or similar contracts may be put at risk. The value of undeveloped land, building lots and housing inventories can also fluctuate significantly as a result of changing market conditions. In addition, inventory carrying costs can be significant and can result in reduced margins or losses in a poorly performing project or market. In weak economic or market conditions, we may have to sell homes or land for a lower profit margin or at a loss, and we may have to record inventory impairment charges. We cannot make any assurances that the measures we employ to manage inventory risks and costs will be successful. During fiscal 2005 and the first part of fiscal 2006, our goals for years of supply for ownership and control of land and building lots were based on management’s expectations for future volume growth. In light of the much weaker market conditions recently encountered, our expectations have changed and we have significantly slowed our purchases of land and lots to reduce our inventory to better match our new reduced rate of production. We have recently terminated numerous land option contracts and have written off earnest money deposits and pre-acquisition costs related to these option contracts. We have also recorded inventory impairment charges related to some of our under-performing projects. Supply Risks.   The homebuilding industry has from time to time experienced significant difficulties that can affect the cost or timing of construction, including:   •  shortages of qualified trades people;     •  reliance on local subcontractors, who may be inadequately capitalized;     •  shortages of materials; and     •  volatile increases in the cost of materials, particularly increases in the price of lumber, drywall and cement, which are significant components of home construction costs. Risks from Nature.   Weather conditions and natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanic activity, droughts, floods and wildfires, can harm our homebuilding business. These can delay home closings, adversely affect the cost or availability of materials or labor, or damage homes under construction. The climates and geology of many of the states in which we operate, including California, Florida and Texas, where we have some of our larger operations, present increased risks of adverse weather or natural disaster. Consequences.   As a result of the foregoing matters, potential customers may be less willing or able to buy our homes, or we may take longer or incur more costs to build them. We may not be able to recapture increased costs by raising prices in many cases because of market conditions or because we fix our prices in advance of delivery by signing home sales contracts. We may be unable to change the mix of our home offerings or the affordability of our homes to maintain our margins or satisfactorily address changing market conditions in other ways. In addition, cancellations of home sales contracts in backlog may increase as homebuyers cancel or do not honor their contracts. In the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2006, we experienced an increase in sales contract cancellations due to a decrease in homebuyer consumer confidence, which we believe was caused by the continued increase in the level of sales incentives offered by both builders of new homes and sellers of existing homes. We are not certain how long the increased level of cancellations will continue. Our financial services business is closely related to our homebuilding business, as it originates mortgage loans principally to purchasers of the homes we build. A decrease in the demand for our homes because of the foregoing matters may also adversely affect the financial results of this segment of our business. Consumer preferences for adjustable rate and other low-margin loans may also adversely affect our financial services results. An increase in the default rate on the mortgages we originate may adversely affect the pricing we receive upon the sale of mortgages that we originate and our profitability on such loan sales. Increases in interest rates, reductions in mortgage availability or increases in the effective costs of owning a home could prevent potential customers from buying our homes and adversely affect our business or our financial results. Most of our customers finance their home purchases through lenders providing mortgage financing. In recent years, interest rates have been at historical lows. Many homebuyers have also chosen adjustable rate, interest only or other mortgages that involve initial lower monthly payments. As a result, new homes have been more affordable. Increases in interest rates or decreases in the availability of mortgage financing products, however, may adversely affect the market for new homes. Potential homebuyers may be less willing or able to pay the increased monthly costs or to obtain mortgage financing that exposes them to interest rate changes. Lenders may increase the qualification requirements needed for mortgages or adjust their terms to address any increased credit risk. Even if potential customers do not need financing, changes in interest rates and the availability of mortgage financing products may make it harder for them to sell their current homes to potential buyers who need financing. These matters may adversely affect the sales or pricing of our homes and may also reduce the volume or margins in our financial services business. The impact on our financial services business may be compounded to the extent we are unable to match interest rates and amounts on loans we have committed to originate through the various hedging strategies we employ. We believe that the availability of FHA and VA mortgage financing is an important factor in marketing some of our homes. We also believe that the liquidity provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the mortgage industry is important to the housing market; however, the federal government has sought to limit the size of the home-loan portfolios and operations of these two government-sponsored enterprises. Any limitations or restrictions on the availability of the financing or on the liquidity provided by them could adversely affect interest rates, mortgage financing and our sales of new homes and mortgage loans. Significant expenses of owning a home, including mortgage interest expense and real estate taxes, generally are deductible expenses for an individual’s federal, and in some cases state, income taxes, subject to various limitations under current tax law and policy. If the federal government or a state government changes its income tax laws, as has been discussed, to eliminate or substantially modify these income tax deductions, the after-tax cost of owning a new home could increase for many of our potential customers. The resulting loss or reduction of homeowner tax deductions, if such tax law changes were enacted without offsetting provisions, could adversely impact demand for and sales prices of new homes. Governmental regulations could increase the cost and limit the availability of our development and homebuilding projects or affect our related financial services operations and adversely affect our business or our financial results. We are subject to extensive and complex regulations that affect land development and home construction, including zoning, density restricti