Low interest rates and inventory will draw buyers to the market, Lennar Corp.’s executive chairman, Stuart Miller, said on a conference call with industry analysts this week. The home builder, one of the largest in the country, said it was working on new ways for buyers to purchase new homes virtually, such as by leveraging its digital programs and offering drive-through closings. Such closings enable home buyers to sign documents from their car. “Even in the current environment, we are selling homes,” Miller said. “Since the first quarter, new orders continue to be strong.”
Miller acknowledged that in some cities, construction has been halted by local governments due to shelter-in-place restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. But Miller said Lennar has not halted its production yet, and the company will continue to build homes and adapt to the changing environment. He said low mortgage rates could incentivize a rush of new-home buyers once the coronavirus pandemic eases. The company has slowed its land purchases, focusing on reducing its outflow of cash to boost its liquidity and balance sheet position, a statement read on its earnings.
Lennar reported strong first-quarter earnings, totaling $398.5 million compared to $239.9 million in the first quarter of 2019. Its new orders also rose 18% on a year-over-year basis, with 12,376 homes in the first quarter.