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Gafisa: Brazil 09 housing sector strong

Elzio Barreto and Guillermo Parra-Bernal Reuters
Gafisa: Brazil 09 housing sector strong - Brazil - Housing - Real Estate

Gafisa (GFSA3.SA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Brazil's second-largest residential builder, expects a good year for the country's real estate developers, particularly those with a focus on low-income housing, Chief Executive Officer Wilson Amaral said in an interview on Monday.

The company has cut the number of projects for 2009 but expects a $15 billion low-income housing plan by Brazil's government to propel sales of cheaper homes.

"The market has become more selective, but it didn't turn into the mayhem we imagined in September or October," Amaral said at the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit in Sao Paulo. "This year will be a good year for companies like ours with a strong foothold in low-income housing."

Gafisa aims to have a relevant presence in low-income housing, with a market share of 5-10 percent, he said.

The company has seen "immediate results" since the housing plan was unveiled late in March, with an increase in traffic at the shops for its Tenda (TEND3.SA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) unit that caters to low-income people, he said. Still, concrete results in terms of actual sales may only be known in 90-120 days.

The day after the package was announced, Tenda received around 3,000 phone calls at its contact center, compared with the usual 20 to 30.

"The package has created traffic at our stores, in our call centers that is far above normal," Amaral said. "We believe that a good portion of the pipeline of business generated with those calls will become actual sales."


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