Meritage Enters Denver Meritage Corp. of Scottsdale and Dallas announced last month that it is expanding into the Denver market. Meritage co-CEO Steven Hilton also announced that Dennis A. Welsch, who oversaw both Colorado and New Mexico divisions as president and regional general manager of KB Home Colorado, has joined Meritage as president to run the Denver division. Welsch, an 18-year home building veteran, has been active in the Denver housing market for six years, where he oversaw 1,900 home closings a year. The company did not immediately announce where it plans to begin building. Denver's metro area issued more than 18,000 single-family permits last year, placing it among the top 20 housing markets in the U.S.

Levitt Buys Bowden Levitt Corp., based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., announced it has acquired Bowden Building Corp., which does business as Bowden Homes, for $7.2 million paid in cash. Founded in 1971, Bowden Homes has been the largest home builder in metropolitan Memphis for six consecutive years, offering homes at an average selling price of $150,000. In 2003, Bowden Homes recorded revenues of $62.4 million and delivered 420 homes, which is a 38 percent increase compared to 2002. Levitt delivered 1,011 homes and generated $286 million in 2003, according to CEO Alan B. Levan.

Holiday Expands Melbourne, Fla.-based Holiday Builders, the largest 100 percent employee-owned home builder in the country, has expanded into the Dallas-Ft. Worth market. Holiday's expansion includes two neighborhoods, Brookeville Estates and Parkview Estates, promoting homes with a two-year warranty and $9,000 in options as standard. Holiday announced it is also expanding into Ohio this year.

Record Sales U.S. home sales will remain near record highs even if interest rates rise, predicted the National Association of Realtors in early May. Existing home sales are projected to reach 6 million units in 2004, just 1.6 percent short of the record 6.1 million last year, and new home sales should come in at 1.07 million, only 1.2 percent below last year's record, the group said.

“Home sales should hold close to record territory for a couple months, then ease in the second half of the year but remain at historically strong levels,” said David Lereah, the group's chief economist. He predicts that housing starts will hit 1.84 million in 2004, slightly below the 1.85 million posted last year.

An interest rate increase will make it more difficult for lower-income borrowers to qualify for mortgages, the Washington-based NAR noted, but higher income buyers should not be affected. The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages is expected to rise to 6.6 percent by the fourth quarter, according to the group.

Hottest Buyers A new Fannie Mae survey reveals that nearly 75 percent of Mexican-Americans and 70 percent of other Latinos consider homeownership a top priority compared to 61 percent of immigrants as a whole. Hispanics, who will make up 17 percent of the nation's population by 2015, are expected to ultimately account for three out of five first-time home buyers, the mortgage giant reports, noting that Spanish-speaking buyers are generally younger, have larger families, and pool their resources to buy multiple properties.

Attached Is In For the first time, more attached new homes in San Diego County were sold than new detached single-family homes. During the first three months of this year, 2,123 sales were attached homes—either stacked-flat condos, townhouses, or row homes—compared to 2,071 detached homes, according to MarketPointe Realty Advisors. The 4,194 first quarter total combined home sales in the county was the second highest ever recorded, below the 4,389 sales of the third quarter of 1988.

Safety First While overall fatalities within the construction industry declined 9 percent over the past year, the fatality rate among Hispanics has increased by 11 percent, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Statistics reveal that Hispanics make up 10.7 percent of the U.S. workforce but experience 13.8 percent of fatal workplace injuries. Efforts are under way by OSHA to integrate Spanish into safety manuals and include instruction in Spanish to help protect Spanish-speaking workers.

KB Honored KB Home earned distinction by winning the American Business Award for best overall company in a ceremony last month in New York. More than 800 nominations from companies of all sizes and a variety of industries were submitted in consideration for over 40 “Stevie” award categories. The awards are billed as the first all-encompassing national business awards program honoring great performances in the workplace.

Clarification/Correction: The gross margin reported in May's “Public Builder Report Card” was lower than many companies reported for their home building operations. They reflected total corporate financial results.

Also: D.R. Horton closed 37,662 homes in calendar 2003, up 19 percent from 31,584 in 2002. Centex's home sales were $7.199 million in calendar 2003, up $5.409 million in 2002.

A caption in May's story “Boom Below the Border,” incorrectly identified the location of an HI development project. It was located in El Paso, Texas.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Denver, CO.