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Home Builder Camps Out To Sell

The home builders are supposedly more upbeat this month than they have been in the better part of a year. At least that’s what the survey from the National Association of Home Builderssays. The first-time home buyer tax credit, combined with lower mortgage interest rates, have potential contract signers out kicking the tires. Optimism is out there, if not actual signed papers.

And right now no builder perhaps is more optimistic than John Wieland, CEO of Atlanta-based John Wieland Homes. The mid-sized home builder, whose markets also include Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh and Charleston, has been riding around those states in an RV, pledging to sell 101 homes before summer. His company has shrunk from 1150 to just 280 employees, as home building plummetted 80% from the peak of the housing boom.

Spring Real Estate Guide 2009 | A CNBC Special Report
Spring Real Estate Guide 2009 | A CNBC Special Report

“I feel that housing is so fundamental to the fabric of America, and this is the 4th recession I have been through,” remarks the 40-year veteran of the industry. “Housing always led the way out and it can happen again this time, and my message is get housing moving. If we can get housing moving we can get the economy moving. I just want to demonstrate to my company that I was in there with them and I was going to get housing moving.”

He so there, he’s actually camping out in his own new construction, air mattress and all. I have to say that when we shot our interview with Wieland last month, and watched him set up his little lamp and flashlight in a new home, it seemed more PR stunt than substance. But I’ve got to hand it to him. He has sold 86 homes since he began the tour.

Just 15 left to reach his goal.

“I’m going to be doing it until I sell 101 homes so the more people that buy the sooner I go back to my wife,” concludes the builder, who is also a grandfather.

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