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Systems and Sensibility

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Systems and Sensibility

Metrics from builders polled reveal potential areas of focus for the coming year 

December 8, 2016
This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of Pro Builder.

Professional Builder’s December issue features our 2016 Builder of the Year, LGI Homes. If CEO Eric Lipar, the gentleman at the center of the shot above, looks familiar to you, it’s because he was cover man of our Housing Giants issue in May of 2014, just after LGI joined the NASDAQ with a successful $90 million stock offering (left to right, Chuck Birt, VP development; Charles Merdian, CFO; Jack Lipar, EVP land acquisitions; Eric Lipar, CEO; Mike Snider, president and COO; Rachel Eaton, chief marketing officer; Kyle Hanna, VP purchasing; Photo: Nathan Lindstrom/dbphotoagency.com). 

We’ve known for a while that the Houston-based builder has been one to watch. It ranked No. 49 on our Housing Giants list the year it went public. In 2015 LGI climbed to No. 35, and this year it rose to No. 25. The builder is growing, but not by offering large luxury or semi-custom homes. Instead, LGI is expanding and entering new markets by transforming renters into buyers, answering the great and urgent demand for entry-level homes. Editorial director Denise Dersin, senior editor Mike Beirne, and I traveled to Houston earlier this fall to learn more about the company and discovered that LGI does things quite a bit differently from many other builders we’ve met and written about. “Turning Renters Into Buyers,” our in-depth profile, elaborates on those differences with an illuminating study in consistency. 

Regular readers know that Pro Builder’s contributing editor Scott Sedam has spent much of this year reflecting and reporting on how builders are coping with the shortages of skilled trades that so many are facing. This month, Sedam bolsters anecdotal findings with statistical evidence, sharing results of his own recent studies. “Survey Says” reveals striking figures on schedules, direct costs, overall quality, and growth. 

The holidays may be on the way, and the International Builders’ Show comes soon after in Orlando, but many of you are preparing for spring selling season. Design details that linger in buyers’ minds long after they’ve left the model are one of the factors that help clinch a sale. For inspiration, read senior editor Susan Bady’s roundup of ideas.

I write this days after the 2016 presidential election, observing prognosticators of all stripes trying to figure out what the results mean for the economy, the housing market, energy regulations, and home building. What are your thoughts? Is a rate hike by the Fed imminent or unlikely? Will Congress pass a new infrastructure plan? If it does, what will that mean for roads, public transit, and land acquisition? What of Fannie, Freddie, and the FHA? Drop us a line—we’d like to hear from you. 

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Written By

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. 

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