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Rankings show ebb and flow of local builders

Jonathan Spiers March 22, 2016 0

Cornerstone Homes' Roger Glover.

Cornerstone Homes’ Roger Glover.

Richmond’s top-producing homebuilders kept hammering away in 2015.

The top eight local firms in Richmond BizSense’s annual list of the highest-producing homebuilders retained their same spots from the previous year, while the No. 9 firm – Chesterfield County-based Finer Homes – moved up one spot from its 2014 ranking.

Maintaining the top spot on the list was Ryan Homes, which held onto the No. 1 position despite a slight decrease year-to-year in the number of homes built and sold – from 671 (for both) in 2014 to 666 in 2015. With 131 employees in its local office in The Boulders, the Reston-based company’s Richmond office sold homes that averaged $356,738 and 2,955 square feet.

Rounding out the top three were HHHunt Homes, which built 74 more homes than in 2014 for a total of 289, and sold 295 – 78 more than the year before; and Eagle Construction of VA, which built 11 fewer homes for a total of 186 but sold nine more for a total of 146.

Also maintaining their top-10 spots were Main Street Homes at No. 4, StyleCraft Homes at No. 5, Liberty Homes at 6, R-CI Builders at 7 and Boone Homes at 8, followed by Finer Homes at 9.

Breaking into the top 10 in the No. 10 spot was Powhatan-based Mitchell Homes, which jumped eight positions from its 2014 ranking. The scattered-site builder constructed 35 homes in 2015, up from 10 the year before.

Scott Sleeme, president of Mitchell Homes, chalked up the rise in his firm’s productivity to a mix of pent-up demand and landowners ready to move forward with building homes.

Mitchell Homes' Scott Sleeme.

Mitchell Homes’ Scott Sleeme.

“They’re ready to build,” Sleeme said. “They’ve been holding onto the land so long, the mortgage rates are so low, and we offered some pretty attractive incentives to buyers over the last 18 months that got a lot of people off the fence.

As a scattered-site builder, Mitchell Homes builds individual homes on land already owned by its customers. Most homes are built on family-owned land, and while projects are not focused on a particular neighborhood, Sleeme said the majority of his business over the past year came from Hanover County.

“Overall, we saw a pretty major increase in our closings from 2014 to 2015 – about a 75 percent increase in our closings statewide,” he said.

For 2016, Sleeme said he expecting another busy year for Mitchell Homes.

“Things this year should be substantially better than 2015,” Sleeme said. “It seems like, for the first time in a long time, there’s some stability there, as far as a steady number of sales each month.”

Another standout entry in this year’s list is Cornerstone Homes, which came in at No. 12 in its first appearance in the annual rankings. Owner Roger Glover, who focuses on communities for residents 55 and up, sold his first homes locally in 2015 after building in other markets over the past few decades.

“We made a decision to focus on Richmond, and up to Fredericksburg and Hampton Roads, starting two years ago,” Glover said. “We weren’t building at all in Richmond until 2014.”

That was when Cornerstone purchased Magnolia Lakes, its first local property, out of foreclosure. Glover said he had kept a distance from Richmond previously because Magnolia Lakes’ original developer, Tascon Group, had the rights to the metro Richmond market for Epcon Communities, a national homebuilder that Cornerstone works with on its projects.

Work continues on the now-named Villas at Magnolia Lakes, with 110 attached homes to be built by the end of 2017 and 50 detached homes planned after that. And Cornerstone is moving forward with a comparable development, the 82-unit Villas at Ashlake, located off Hull Street Road across from the Woodlake community.

The Villas at Ashlake has received zoning approval from the county, and Glover said he is working on site plan approval and that construction could start as early as August or September.

Beyond Chesterfield, Cornerstone has started site work on a 125-home age-restricted community outside Fredericksburg, and it is also planning a 400-home project in Hanover County called Chickahominy Falls. That project, which would blend suburban living with an organic farming concept, is slated to go before county supervisors for final zoning approval this week.

Laughing, Glover said: “Tell Ryan Homes, watch out. We’re only about 600 homes behind them.”

The 22 firms on this year’s list built a total of 1,924 homes and sold 1,951 in 2015. Average home prices ranged from $120,000 to $750,000, and average square footage ranged from 1,600 to 3,700.

Other list results worth noting include Southside Community Development & Housing Corporation, which came in at 13 after not appearing on the list the previous year; Perkinson Homes, which jumped from 23 to 14 this year; Comfort Homes, which jumped from 27 to 18; and W.B. Garrett Inc., which jumped from 26 to 20 this year.

Editor’s note: The list and its rankings are based on individual survey responses and may omit some companies due to lack of information or deadline restrictions.

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