The Omaha area’s busiest builder, Celebrity Homes, has started new construction in five neighborhoods it hadn’t been in before. Many of the lots previously belonged to a builder that went bankrupt and are in areas ranging from southwest to northwest in the metro area.
The No. 2 most prolific builder, Legacy Homes, also is constructing houses in several subdivisions that were started years ago in sites from Bellevue to Bennington.
Such building reflects a change that accompanied the recent uptick in the local housing market. More homes are rising in neighborhoods that for years sat relatively dormant with little to no new construction.
Building that went on during the housing downturn tended to be clustered in the hottest and newest neighborhoods, said Tim Underwood of MarketResearch of Nebraska.
“What we saw in the downturn was flight to safety — and safety was perceived to be where a lot of activity is going on,” Underwood said. “Now we’re getting back to a more normal market and we’re seeing activity spreading out more.”
Even a few established neighborhoods that were down to a handful of still-to-be-built-upon lots have seen activity, said Underwood, whose firm tracks housing trends in about 20 metro areas, including Omaha and Lincoln. A dwindling number of desirable home lots is a large part of why area developers say they’re seeking to create more housing subdivisions on suburban tracts of land.
Shawn McGuire, broker and sales manager for production builder Celebrity Homes, said the firm recently added five neighborhoods to its subdivisions. Celebrity is the exclusive builder in the bulk of those 24 neighborhoods, and McGuire said interest overall has picked up.
“The market took its toll; buyers paused,” he said. “It’s nice the pause button has been released.”
Among the communities new to Celebrity, which has been in business since 1977, are Stockmans Hollow at 72nd Street and Giles Road, Summer Glen at 204th Street and Veterans Drive; Hanover Falls, 156th and State Streets; and Glenmoor at Sorensen Parkway and Irvington Road. Those include some of the nearly 600 lots that Celebrity purchased last year from the HearthStone Homes estate.
Celebrity also is building in places such as Clear Water Falls in Bellevue and White Tail Creek in Gretna, McGuire said. Typical single-family Celebrity houses, he said, range from $145,000 to $260,000.
Allen Grimes, managing partner of Legacy Homes, which formed last year, said the homebuilder ended 2012 on a strong note and has had an even better quarter this year.
“We’re building all over the Omaha metro, in about 25 communities, and we have started our first Lincoln homes.”
Legacy is considering getting into land development for residential housing, Grimes said. The homebuilder’s prices for its single-family models typically range from $140,000 to $275,000.
So far Legacy has had a positive reception from residents of areas where it builds, Grimes said. “We do an architectural review and different things to enhance the streetscape.”
Grimes said a concern by some is that Legacy might “take over” a neighborhood. He said, however, that Legacy has tried not to build more than four or five homes in any one particular spot.
McGuire said Celebrity has had mixed reactions from neighbors when it enters an already established area. Some, he said, indicate a preference for a custom builder of higher-end homes. Others, he said, are encouraged to see the subdivision filled out and financially healthier.
“Some neighborhoods have been quiet,” he said, “and are extremely glad we’re building there.”
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