Back then, we said that MDC Holdings may be the safest stock in the sector, simply because its market value of $860 million is below the conservatively-assessed $880 million value of its real estate holdings. Well, the stock has rallied roughly 10% since then and is worth roughly $80 million more than that stated book value figure.Yet the recent upward move may be a sign of even better trading action ahead. That's because tentative signs are emerging that the much-anticipated, long-delayed upturn in new home construction may finally, finally, be at hand. Economists now think we'll see roughly 700,000 housing starts in 2012, roughly 5% ahead of 2011 levels. It's worth noting that for the 50-year stretch from 1957 to 2007, that figure was above 1 million on 45 occasions. The recent drop in new-home construction has enabled supply to drop and if demand perks up just a bit, that 700,000 forecast for 2012 would just be a baseline for years to come.