Spring break: Homebuilders are confident

House For Sale
Larry Downing | Reuters

U.S. homebuilders are gearing up for a sharp rise in demand this spring as Americans become more confident about keeping their jobs and are encouraged by easing access to credit.

Several homebuilders resorted to bigger discounts to attract buyers during last year's spring selling season, which is to the builders what the holiday shopping season is to retailers.

Lennar Corp., Toll Brothers Inc. and KB Home , among the top six builders, together reported an average 19 percent increase in orders in the latest quarter, up from 3.3 percent in the same period last year.

That suggests that a drop in housing starts in February had more to do with unusually harsh winter weather than weakness in underlying demand.

Lennar, the No.2 U.S. homebuilder after D.R. Horton Inc (DHI.N), said on Thursday it expected single-family housing starts and permits to rebound "shortly".

"An early read from this year's spring selling season suggests that the market is continuing to improve at a very steady pace," Chief Executive Stuart Miller said.