Had to be hundreds of folks, maybe a thousand, who turned up at Hogan Park in Aurora this past Labor Day.
Like me, they were there to see Umi. Which is a 21-foot tall statue of a woman-like figure, made of logs. At least it looks like logs. In reality I believe it’s concrete formed and shaped to resemble twisted, petrified wood.
Created by a world-renowned artist named Daniel Popper, the statue is an artistic centerpiece of the Aurora Highlands. Which is a huge “planned community” of new-build homes springing up on the plains south of DIA, about 20 miles east of downtown Denver.
The Aurora Highlands will have 12,000 homes plus plenty of mixed-use development, a medical and office complex, four public schools, a City of Aurora rec center and a private “beach club” with a water park for use by HOA-dues-paying residents of the community.
Umi “weaves together the essence of nature and humanity,” said Carla Ferreira, in a press release. Ferreira is a principal at The Aurora Highlands and a big proponent of public art. Her father Carlo Ferreria, another principal, created a similar mega-development in Texas, called Shadow Creek Ranch.
Partially completed now is a 21-mile hike/bike trail to be sandwiched into an oblong green space called Hogan Park. Along the trail will be playgrounds, picnic areas, public art spaces, a zip line; and that statuesque feminine figure, Umi.
I biked a section of the trail. It’s a paved, wide, flat, easy ride. I enjoyed it greatly.
The Aurora Highlands has been in development for six years, starting with the infrastructure of roads, underground power lines, and water. The remaining build-out is expected to take another 10 to 20 years, depending on who you talk to.
Active now are five major home builders: Richmond American, Pulte Homes, Tri-Pointe, Taylor Morrison, and Bridgewater. Two more have yet to break ground. Homes are selling briskly, pretty much as fast as they can build ‘em.
Current base prices range from around $459,000 to more than $700,000. Options and upgrades such as finished basements can easily boost a contract price by $200,000 or more.
Not all the homes are single-family. Richmond American is building some paired homes with a current base price of $413,950.
Like many agents and prospective buyers, I use an app called NewHomeSource.com. It packages up the crush of rapidly changing info from homebuilders into a digestible form. It is not perfect, but the data is frequently updated.
Not all builders choose to participate. Bridgewater for one does not pay to play. More about that in this video.
Buyers can contact me for a free subscription to NewHomeSource.com. We can then collaborate in considering homes.
A client and I recently walked through several model homes at Aurora Highlands. A few impressions:
- Most of the homes evoked a sunny sort of grandeur, with sliding, floor-to-ceiling glass doors letting in tons of light.
- Kitchens often blended into the great outdoors. with patio dining furniture and gas grills visible through the glass.
- Finished basements were a part of the opulence—many with wet bars or staged up with home gyms. Ceilings were 10 or 11 feet. Yet some basements seemed “removed” from the main floor, for better or worse.
- A sameness pervaded the walls and finishes. Nearly all the paint is a bright snow white. The rare earth-tone treatment was a welcome relief.
With the exception of Pulte Homes, the builders currently have precious few “move-in ready” homes. The recent collective total was five or six. Move-in readiness is not to be confused with “quick move-in.” If a buyer can wait a few months, the options expand greatly.
Pulte recently had 12 single-family models ready for move-in. Someone noted, Pulte just keeps cranking ‘em out, undeterred by market conditions. When inventory starts to grow, they respond with discounts and incentives.
All the builders currently are pushing incentives, with below-market interest rates and concessions toward closing costs. For sales that close by the end of September, Pulte is extending 5.5 to 6.25 percent APR fixed rate financing to conventional, FHA, and VA borrowers.
New-build homes are a world apart from MLS listed sales. They are not included in the sales statistics reported regularly by the Denver Metro Association of Realtors.
MLS sales were down by 16 percent in August 2023 compared to August 2022, according to DMAR. New-build homes are a good alternative for a lot of people. They are built and sold by corporate behemoths that understand, above all, how to build and sell.
My client signed a contract with Richmond American. The purchase price is $913,950 for a 5BR/4BA ranch with 4,444 finished square feet. We locked a promotional interest rate of 6.75 percent with a $15,199 seller concession toward buyer closing costs. Closing is expected in November.