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Housing Hasn't Hit the Roof Yet

NEW CAUTION. A key component of past housing bubbles -- overbuilding -- isn't a problem this time. Land continues to be in short supply, and municipalities keep imposing tough restrictions on building permits. "Land is a zero-sum game. The supply side is continuing to be tight in a lot of markets without a lot of land to build on," says Richard J. Dugas Jr., chief operating officer of Pulte Homes (PHM ). In addition, he says "the processing time for land has doubled in just about every market we do business in over the past couple of years."

Even with the boom times builders have enjoyed in recent years, they're more cautious than in the past. Inventories of new homes are at some of the lowest levels on record. At the current rate of new-home sales, it would t

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