AUSTIN (Austin American-Statesman) – Dallas-based Centex Corp. and Michigan’s Pulte Homes Inc. announced their merger under the Pulte name Wednesday, a partnership that creates the largest homebuilder nationally.

The merger, valued at $1.3 billion, could signal a housing market rebound for Central Texas, where the companies are the second- and third-largest builders. In 2008, Centex sold 767 homes, and Pulte sold 665, according to Metrostudy.

Pulte has 33 communities in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, and Centex has more than 90 in Texas, said Pulte spokesperson Valerie Dolenga.

Gary Newman, president of Austin-based Waterstone Development, said Pulte has historically focused on the East and West Coasts, “and Texas was always just a secondary market.”

But as the coasts have been hammered during the housing downturn, “Texas’ economy and its housing industry is much healthier, and Austin is kind of the crown jewel of Texas right now, so I think we’ll see them much more active in Austin.”