Battling Back, Home Builders Cut Options

Since almost the day they were born, suburbs have been criticized for their plain vanilla sameness. Is the downturn causing the landscape to become even more look-alike?

Faced with declining demand for new homes and a glut of inventory, home builders are cutting house plans from their portfolios and standardizing on design in an effort to save costs and better compete with bargain-priced foreclosures and pre-existing homes.

Miami-based Lennar Corporation is streamlining the number of models it offers for new homes. And Los Angeles–based builder KB Home "is cutting costs partly by standardizing window sizes and floor plans rather than allowing endless local variations," The Wall Street Journalrecently reported.

Is what's good for builders good for the suburbs?