Local duo bringing national homebuilding brand to Richmond

A rendering of the model AR Homes Richmond is building at Tuckahoe Creek. (Photos courtesy Matt Ellington)

A local homebuilder and real estate broker are teaming up to bring a national custom homebuilding brand to Richmond.

Matt Ellington and C. Ryan Fanelli have launched a local franchise of Arthur Rutenberg Homes, a 65-year-old Florida-based brand that’s been expanding across the country with franchises now in nine states.

Ellington, a native Richmonder and Virginia Tech grad, was in his seventh year leading his own Ellington Homes brand when Fanelli, an agent with locally based Commonwealth Commercial, approached him about going in on an AR Homes franchise together.

“I came across the company and really liked (its) idea of bringing some sanity to custom homebuilding,” said Fanelli, who previously worked for Ryan Homes. “I approached Matt about partnering to bring it to Richmond, because it’s an exciting concept and Matt builds beautiful homes.”

Since buying the franchise in October 2017, with Fanelli on board as a minority investor, Ellington said they’ve been learning the company’s processes while also designing a model home, now under construction at Tuckahoe Creek.

Ellington said the Goochland subdivision, developed by Bill Goodwin’s Riverstone Group, was selected for the model because of its acre-sized lots that are sold directly to buyers – an approach that AR Homes takes with about 25 percent of the 20,000-plus custom homes it has built to date, according to its website.

Construction is underway on the model, which is scheduled to open in April.

“They’re selling the lots to the retail buyer instead of builders, which really aligns perfectly with our ‘on your lot’ program,” Ellington said.

“We wanted to align ourselves with one of the premier owners and developers of land on the East Coast, and we met with Chris Corrada and the team at Riverstone. They built a beautiful community out there in Goochland, and we felt like it fit our style of home.”

Tarrington on the James in the mix

In addition to Tuckahoe Creek, where it is aiming to open its model in April, AR Homes Richmond is lined up to build in Tarrington on the James, the Chesterfield community by Realty Ventures Group that this year entered its final phase with work starting on its last three sections.

Ellington Homes was previously among Tarrington’s list of preferred builders. Other communities have included Carter’s Ridge, a cul de sac development off Ridge Road in Henrico where Ellington built nine Craftsman-style homes.

Excluding lots, AR houses in Tarrington on the James start at $700,000, while its homes in Tuckahoe Creek start at $800,000. Ellington said the franchise’s homes average about $850,000 and 4,000 square feet; home sizes can start at 2,200 square feet with prices starting in the low $500,000s.

Homes typically feature an open floor plan that emphasize indoor-outdoor living spaces, glass walls, covered porches with outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, and first-floor master bedrooms, Ellington said.

Matt Ellington

Beyond Tuckahoe Creek and Tarrington, Ellington said the franchise can build in other communities and on single home sites throughout metro Richmond and across the Mid-Atlantic, serving as the company’s first franchise in the region and its 47th nationally.

Ellington and Fanelli would not disclose what it has cost to launch the franchise locally. Fanelli said they have funded the venture primarily with cash.

Ellington said the association with AR Homes and its resources are worth the investment.

“It’s harnessing the power of a big, national builder,” Ellington said. “I’m a guy that’s born and raised in Richmond, so you’re still getting the local custom treatment, with the power of a big national company behind you.”

AR Homes joins a growing list of national homebuilder brands wanting a piece of Richmond’s real estate market.

Earlier this year, industry giant D.R. Horton entered the market with 48 lots it picked up in Midlothian’s Collington development for $4.5 million. Canada-based Walton Global Investments paid $1.15 million for a 74-acre tract in Powhatan County. Delaware-based Schell Brothers arrived in 2016, luring Shane Burnette from Midlothian-based Perkinson Homes to lead its local outfit.

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Matt Barber

Congrats, gents. We’re looking forward to watching you grow.