Manufacturer reputation counts a lot in other categories--say, cars, where consumers will buy a sturdy Volvo or Mercedes knowing the danged thing will last for 15 years. Up to now, anyone buying a home probably didn't have a clue whether, say, a Pulte home was built better than one built by KB Home. Until now. J.D. Power & Associates (disclaimer: Power is a sister company of BusinessWeek, both owned by The McGraw-Hill Cos.) just released its latest annual survey of 569 homebuilders from 30 of the nation's largest markets. Power surveyed recent purchasers in these cities as to whether they were happy with the quality of their home. Conclusion: Pulte Homes Inc. and Centex Corp. were among the highest ranked builders, while D.R. Horton Inc. was consistently among the lowest-ranked of the large builders. If you're shopping for a new home in one of these markets, it might behoove you to check out Power's rankings in your city, which you can do here, with the help of pulldown menus.

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