Denver-based MDC Holdings Inc. announced that it had acquired virtually all of the assets of Crawford Homes, one of the largest home builders in northeast Florida, for an undisclosed cash price. The purchase gives MDC entry into Jacksonville and marks its second new market in Florida this year -- it opened a start-up operation in Tampa in July.

MDC, whose subsidiaries build as "Richmond American Homes," closed 8,900 homes in 2002, generating $2.3 billion. Its new assets include more than 550 vacant residential lots and 165 homes, spread throughout 15 communities.

MDC is not your father's Colorado builder anymore. "We operate now in 13 states," says Paris G. Reece III, MDC's executive vice president and CFO. MDC ranks among the top five builders in many areas, including Colorado, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and Northern Virginia. "Our strategy has been to diversify our operations" to avoid relying on a particular market, explains Reese. "For the first six months of 2003, home orders for Colorado represented only 21 percent of our company's total, and this was exceeded by orders in our Phoenix division of 27 percent. This, along with our strong balance sheet, has allowed us to expand rapidly while minimizing risk."

Crawford Homes closed 302 homes for revenues of $47 million through the first eight months of 2003 at an average price of approximately $157,000. About 40 employees from Crawford are expected to join MDC. Reese says he appreciates experienced local personnel. "Local knowledge is a big advantage for us as we expand," he says.