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Donald R. Horton, founder of the largest U.S. homebuilder, dies

Donald R. Horton, founder and chairman of D.R. Horton, the largest homebuilder by volume in the U.S., has died at the age of 74, the company announced on Friday morning. Board members have named David V. Auld as executive chairman, effective immediately.

Horton, who was involved in the real estate and homebuilding industries since 1972, served as chairman of D.R. Horton since its creation in July 1991. He was also its president and CEO from July 1992 until November 1998. He is survived by his wife, two sons and four grandchildren. A cause of death was not disclosed.

“Throughout the Company’s 46-year existence, he worked tirelessly to build a national homebuilding operation with a strong company culture, and the impact of his personal involvement with our team of operators across the United States has contributed immeasurable value to our company and people,” Auld said in a statement.

A pioneer in the homebuilding industry, Horton invested in an “unorthodox” decentralized operational decision-making process at his company, with local leaders deciding on topics such as product offerings, price points and home features.

Over the years, he traveled extensively to its field operations, maintained a culture of family and care, and developed initiatives that focused on employees and their families, the company said.

As a result, D.R. Horton has been the largest homebuilder by volume in the U.S. since 2002. It operates in 119 markets across 33 states, focusing on building and selling homes with prices ranging from $200,000 to more than $1 million.

In July 2023, HousingWire reported that the company acquired Truland Homes, the largest private homebuilder along the Gulf Coast, adding approximately 263 lots, 155 homes in inventory and 55 homes in the sales order backlog.

As of March 31, 2024, D.R. Horton had a $3.1 billion cash balance. Although inflation and mortgage interest rates remain elevated, the homebuilder’s sales orders increased in the first three months of 2024 on both a quarterly and a yearly basis.

At the end of March, the company had 45,000 homes in inventory. During the 12-month period ending March 31, D.R. Horton closed 87,801 homes in its homebuilding operations, as well as 6,248 single-family rental homes and 2,536 multifamily rental units in its rental operations.

Through its subsidiaries, the company offers mortgage financing, title services and insurance agency services. In addition, D.R. Horton holds a majority stake in Forestar Group Inc., a publicly traded national residential lot development company.

“Under DR’s leadership, we have had the privilege of helping more than one million American individuals and families achieve homeownership,” Auld said in a prepared statement. “We are all indebted to DR for his vision, tenacity, and never-ending drive to continue to grow and improve our Company.” 

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