Thursday, December 07, 2006

Local Community Builders Build Communities

That is the primary difference between the big nationals and the locals, the communities they build are congruent with what has occurred in the community historically and culturally.

Local home builders battle the big boys
National firms with deep pockets now lead in region

By Jim Wasserman - Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:00 am PST Thursday, December 7, 2006

Fifteen years ago when you walked through the door of your new home, chances are it carried the name of the local family who built it -- Elliott, Dunmore, Mourier, Lewis or Sweigart.

Such area builders ruled the roost then, when Harry C. Elliott III and Tom Winn battled back and forth to be No. 1 in annual sales.

Today Tom Winn's Winncrest Homes is a subsidiary of one the nation's largest homebuilders, Miami-based Lennar Corp., which battles for No. 1 in the Sacramento region with the biggest builder of them all, Fort Worth-based D.R. Horton Inc.

Folsom-based Elliott Homes, meanwhile, ranks 17th in sales this year -- its 162 home sales trailing far behind nearly 1,000 sales by Lennar, according to an industry market researcher.

Nothing more clearly indicates the corporate takeover of the region's homebuilding business than this: Where local, family-owned companies once dominated, six of every 10 homes sold in the Sacramento area this year are now being built by national production builders -- giant corporations that buy microwaves and dishwashers by the thousands and take cues from headquarters in Texas, Florida, New Jersey or Los Angeles.

That market shift has forced the local companies to sharpen their focus as they attempt to capitalize on what they say are some of their chief advantages: being small, nimble and rooted in communities where they've been doing business for decades.