McMansion pioneers Toll Brothers Inc., our country’s biggest luxury homebuilder, reported its bleakest annual results since going public during the Reagan administration. The company may deliver only 2,000 to 3,000 homes during fiscal 2009 (instead of this year’s 4,743), which means the recently-posted $297.8 million fiscal loss will likely get worse before it gets better.
"Obviously, there are enormous challenges in our industry,” CEO Bob Toll said in a statement. His tone was different only a few months ago, during a feisty March interview with The Observer, excerpted below.
On the housing system: "The reason capitalism works is that one of the basic instincts of human nature is greed; everybody wants to get bigger, better, more, you know? And there are very few of us that walk around all day long with the thought of being our brother’s keeper."
On social responsibility: "No, I don’t think we’re feeling socially responsible not to sell homes. I think it’s on a business basis that we don’t want to sell homes to people that are going to fail, because we don’t want those homes back."
On compensation: "I definitely deserve to make four, five [million], etc., in that range, for the work that I do."
On American foreclosures: "I try when I’m not working not to worry. What do I worry about? I worry about my family’s health first."
On New York City: "Is Manhattan in a bubble? It doesn’t seem to me that it is. Manhattan is supported not just by the local market, not just by the region, not just by people from all over the United States who want to have a pied à terre, but it’s also supported by foreign buyers."
On artists leaving the East Village, where Toll recently built One Ten 3rd: "Hey, Max, once upon a time the populace of the United States wore buckskin and deerskin, rode ponies and hunted with bows and arrows, and I’m sure they didn’t appreciate it when your kind came to the Untied States."