Homebuilders regained their footing in the first quarter, just in time to march in the Spring Parade of Homes in three weeks. Builders in the metro area started 1,167 houses through March, an increase of nearly 18 percent compared with the same period last year, but still well below the three years previous, according to The Builder Report by Dharma Inc. in Norman. They're building like it's 2008, the year before the national housing crash hit here, or 2012, the first year builders here dug out of the worst of the slump. Out of the past decade, the first quarter of each of those years was most comparable to this quarter, with 1,666 starts the three months of 2008 and 1,195 starts the first fourth of 2012. All of which is better than the sluggish first quarter of 2016, when builders started 990 houses and it felt like the middle of the Great Recession eight years ago. Building optimism, confidence "My attitude is more positive than it was for 2016. Most of my builder friends are very optimistic that 2017 will be a better year for sales of new homes," said Jay Evans, owner of Edmond's Two Structures Homes, which has entries in the Spring Parade of Homes. "We have seen improved traffic to our model homes and Realtor traffic has been steady. "Most of us are starting to clear out some of our existing 'showcase/inventory' homes. ... We have sold a couple of our homes that had birthdays and we are able to build some fresh inventory for the selling season."