Staking a Claim

In a time of consolidation, there are still regional builders that prevail in their markets

June 6, 2016

This month contributing editor John Caulfield profiles four regional builders that are each prevailing in their markets. Data from Meyers Research on 50 of the country’s top U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and the home builders most active within them, gave us a big-picture view of new-home construction across the country. We then zeroed in on some of the places where the action is (Image: Clker FreeVector Image via Pixabay).

The kind of evaluation that goes into choosing the MSAs on which to focus involves more than just numbers. We wonder: If we were 25 and just starting out, where would we want to live? We imagine: If we suddenly couldn’t afford to live where we do now and had to pull up stakes, where would we go? Finally, we look for patterns: Where are the markets in which regional builders are staking a claim? 

Caulfield covered residential construction through years of dips and peaks, but for the last few, he’s been writing about the commercial side. With this story, he returns to his former beat. In the reporting, Caulfield says, “I discovered players that I hadn’t heard of before—that’s a good thing—that are really taking off in their markets.” He was impressed by the number of independent companies that started in 2008–2010 and emerged from the recession to position themselves in a meaningful way within their markets. 

In an industry largely dominated by a small number of companies at the top, that’s a Herculean accomplishment. And yet, there are still certain markets where local builders are able to firmly assert themselves. What’s the magic ingredient? Miami, which is one of the markets we looked at, has established itself as an art-world mecca; it’s a place where building homes designed by noted architects confers an edge. Another market you’ll read about is Austin, Texas, which has long been known as a creative and tech-centric locale. Fresno, Calif., has its prodigious agricultural production, and the transformation of Allentown, Pa., is a redevelopment success story. Regions each have unique appeal—and regional builders boast an insider’s edge on how to play to the particulars. 

The play yields payoff: All the local builders profiled this month have powerful assets in common. “Each of them has longevity in their markets, a name, and repeat business,” Caulfield observes. Residents know who their local builders are, and the recognition resonates. 


Amy Albert is editor-in-chief of Professional Builder magazine. Previously, she worked as chief editor of Custom Home and design editor at Builder. Amy came to writing about building by way of food journalism, as kitchen design editor at Bon Appetit and before that, at Fine Cooking, where she shot, edited, and wrote stories on kitchen design. She studied art history with an emphasis on architecture and urban design at the University of Pennsylvania, has served on several design juries, and is a recipient of the 2017 Jesse H. Neal Award for excellence in journalism.