There’s a national builder in town, and local real estate experts say the additional home supply and competition should mean good news for Omaha-area house seekers.
D.R. Horton — the country’s largest volume homebuilder, according to Builder Magazine — has started construction on more than 50 new for-sale homes in four suburban communities and expects to grow locally.
Having a national homebuilder establish a presence in the Omaha area is affirmation of the hot local housing market, those in the industry say. Founded in 1978 in Fort Worth, Texas, D.R. Horton is a publicly traded company that operates in 30 states and this year expects to sell more than 80,000 houses nationwide.
“It tells us our market is maturing and we have enough demand to capture the attention of these entities,” longtime local appraiser Gregg Mitchell said. “In a sense, you can probably say we’ve grown up.”
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Aaron Moulton, vice president of D.R. Horton's Omaha operations, said the company was attracted by the area’s growing population and economy, its employment base and Offutt Air Force Base.
The company started off building dwellings in existing subdivisions in Bellevue, Papillion, Bennington and Gretna and also plans to expand and develop its own neighborhoods.
Moulton said in a statement that the company expects to offer mostly single-family homes ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 square feet and starting in the low $300,000s.
Vince Leisey of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate said at the recent Commercial Real Estate Summit that he sees D.R. Horton replacing some volume historically supplied by HearthStone Homes before that builder went bankrupt in 2012.
For years, HearthStone battled with Omaha's Celebrity Homes to produce the top amount of newly constructed homes in entry-level price ranges.
Leisey said it seems a contradiction to describe "entry-level" and "first-time homebuyer" options as in the $300,000 range, but he said material and labor costs don't allow companies to build a new house for less than that these days.
Because volume builders deal in bulk, they can often leverage greater discounts for materials and labor. They save time and money by building out entire blocks or neighborhoods at a time, and can pass along some of those efficiencies in consumer pricing.
Moulton said D.R. Horton, in many communities, limits homebuyer selections of interior features, or preselects them, to increase efficiency and maintain affordability.
The Home Company has also tried to fill some of the gap in the local lower-end new construction market. It just unveiled a new series of home styles that will feature "modest" lot sizes and floor plans in the Sumtur Crossing neighborhood of Papillion and Belle Lago in Bellevue.
Dave Vogtman of the Home Company said the starting price for those homes is about $325,000.
Andy Alloway of Nebraska Realty said he is eager to see more local housing supply. Although inventory has improved somewhat lately, the Omaha area’s ongoing and unprecedented dearth of homes for buyers to choose from has led to bidding wars that have driven up prices.
So far this year, the median price of an existing home sold in the Omaha area is $240,000, up more than 14% over the same period last year. For new construction, the median sales price is up about 8% to almost $364,000, according to the Great Plains regional multiple listing service.
Said D.R. Horton's Moulton: “We are excited to bring quality new homes at an affordable price point to this undersupplied market.”
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