No. 1 U.S. homebuilder PulteGroup Inc posted a far narrower than expected quarterly loss on Wednesday and said it expects to record a profit for 2010 overall, as the housing market pulls out of a brutal downturn.

Pulte reported a first quarter loss of $12.5 million, or 3 cents a share, versus a prior-year loss of $514 million, or $2.02 per share.

Analysts, on average, had expected a quarterly loss of 22 cents per share.

Charges to write down the value of land fell to $8 million from $410 million a year before, and demand strengthened due to the homebuyer tax credit and an improving economy.

Revenue rose 75 percent to $1.0 billion, and orders rose 43 percent to 4,320 homes.

Pulte expects market conditions to remain relatively stable for the rest of the year, the company, based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, said in a statement.

Pulte, which operates in 29 states, gained its market-leading position by acquiring Centex last year.

Several of its rivals, including D.R. Horton Inc and Meritage Homes Corp , made money in recent quarters, helped by the homebuyer tax credit, tax benefits and recovery in the broader economy from the recession.

Most analysts forecast a lull in homebuying demand in the near-term, however, because while the tax credit induced consumers to expedite their purchases, it did not create new homebuyers. The credit expired April 30.

(Reporting by Helen Chernikoff and Bijoy Koyitty)