Newly built residences in the U.S. are getting pricier as older, high-earning buyers have rebounded more quickly from the recession than entry-level buyers. This has prompted more home builders to go upscale to match the shift. Builders continue to erect entry-level houses, but demand is depressed from traditional levels. The national rate of new-home sales in 2013 is roughly 50% of the typical 800,000 yearly rate, due primarily to the falloff in entry-level and first-time buyers.

Lower-end buyers remain hampered by strict qualification standards and hefty downpayments that are now required by many lenders. At the same time, more affluent buyers have reaped higher earnings due to factors such as stock-market gains and improving home equity. In this year's second quarter, sales of new homes priced in the $300,000 to $400,000 range rose 21% of all sales, up from 13% four years ago, Census figures show. Over the same time span, sales of new homes priced from $150,000 to $200,000 fell from 25% to 19%.

Tom: Lee County is also starting to see an upswing in upper-end home sales for the same reasons described above.