Ashton Woods Homes Posts 46 Percent Sales Increase

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With quarterly and annual housing starts down in the Houston area, Ashton Woods Homes offers surprising news -- a 46% increase in Houston-area sales during fiscal year 2009. The builder ended its fiscal year May 31, reporting not just the significant increase in annual sales, but also a sizeable drop in its cancellation rate, from 49 percent to 22 percent.

We really studied our submarkets and adjusted our product features, pricing and incentives to accommodate our target market

With quarterly and annual housing starts down in the Houston area, Ashton Woods Homes offers surprising news -- a 46% increase in Houston-area sales during fiscal year 2009.

The builder ended its fiscal year May 31, reporting not just the significant increase in annual sales, but also a sizeable drop in its cancellation rate, from 49 percent to 22 percent.

Dan Gezella, vice president of sales and marketing for Ashton Woods, said company sales during the previous 2008 fiscal year (June 2007 through May 2008) were typical for most area builders and credits a concentrated market analysis and resulting product changes for this year's surge in sales.

"We really studied our submarkets and adjusted our product features, pricing and incentives to accommodate our target market," Gezella said. "We were trying to build value in our customers' eyes, so while we were not necessarily offering the lowest prices, we were the best value when they considered features versus price, and it worked for us. We achieved a great deal this year when most builders' sales volumes have dropped."

In fact, the Houston market reported a 54 percent decline in housing starts during the first quarter of the year compared to the first quarter of 2008 and a 35 percent decline in starts from April 2008 through March 2009, according to Metrostudy, a national housing market research firm that tracks housing activity on a quarterly basis.

Gezella said Ashton Woods expects another strong fiscal year, with plans to move into three new communities. "We are definitely looking for opportunities to expand," he said.

A long-time Houston area builder, Ashton Woods offers designs in nine communities. Base pricing ranges from the $120,000s to $410,000s. The builder has earned several coveted industry awards, including the Greater Houston Builders Association's Builder of the Year and Grand Award, a Texas Star Award, and a Silver Award from The Nationals.

In addition to Texas, Ashton Woods also builds in Georgia, Florida, Colorado and Arizona. For more information, visit Ashton Woods Homes - New Homes Houston Division.

About Ashton Woods Homes
One of the Great Gulf Group of Companies, Ashton Woods offers the accessibility, accountability and hands-on customer service of a local home builder with the experience, resources and financial strength of an international firm. Over the past 40 years, Ashton Woods has become known for designing versatile, energy-efficient homes priced from the $100s to the $300s. Now building in 10 of the Houston area's most well-located communities, the company is a Gold Level Environments for Living™ and Energy Star® builder, honored with the most coveted local, regional and national awards. Ashton Woods is also the developer of Southern Trails in Pearland, Texas.

Contact:
Dan Gezella
VP Sales and Marketing
Ashton Woods Homes
Phone: 281- 561-7773
dgezella (at) ashtonwoodshomes (dot) com

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RICHARD BERGER
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