To compete with scaled-back consumer sentiment, KB Home launched a new design of smaller, more affordable homes in March that it called its Open Series. In KB Home's conference call with analysts Tuesday, Mezger said the company would continue to build homes made to order -- that is, with buyers lined up -- but added that it was considering putting up some partially built houses in some select communities. That would speed up the construction process and potentially allow more consumers to take advantage of the home-buyer tax credit before its April expiration, he said.
Mezger also told analysts the company was increasing prices where it could. "It's the same product and you push a thousand here and thousand there and get what you can," he said. Home prices and sales picked up steadily during the second half of 2009 in Southern California, and some economists have said the worst is over. Yet whether the nascent recovery will translate into wide-scale construction in the region remains doubtful.