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Marina Heights is a development partnership between Ryan Companies and Sunbelt Holdings. Fellow Valley Partnership member Cushman & Wakefield was awarded the leasing assignment.

A valley of partners

Partner-to-partner transactions building up the valley
one project at a time

When Valley Partnership was founded 27 years ago, it was on the principles of responsible development. It has since grown to thousands of members throughout the commercial real estate community — from subcontractors to some of the largest developers in Arizona.

Eastmark includes a partnership between DMB Associates and Marham COntracting Co.

Eastmark includes a partnership between DMB Associates and Markham Contracting Co.

“In 2014 and beyond, Valley Partnership developer companies are the leaders of almost every major commercial real estate project announced, including Marina Heights, the numerous announcements of deals at Eastmark, and Liberty Center at Rio Salado,” says Valley Partnership President and CEO Richard Hubbard.

The members have rallied behind the idea of partnership, Hubbard says.

“These developers use Valley Partnership partners for all construction disciplines related to the project including planning, design, architecture, general contracting, engineering and even law and accounting,” Hubbard says. “Many of those ‘partner-to-partner’ transactions have come from long-standing relationships created through Valley Partnership. I would say that every level of partner in Valley Partnership, from board member to sole proprietor, is participating in the current commercial real estate building activity in the Valley.”

Some companies, such as Evergreen Devco, take the partner-to-partner very seriously.

Valley Partnership Chair of the Board Doug Leventhal is the principal and COO of Evergreen Devco. Though Evergreen has focused much of its recent work in Denver, the company finds exclusive value in partnership with fellow VP members for Arizona projects.

“I can say that for all our Arizona work, we tend to work exclusively with the companies that see the value in Valley Partnership and either are active members or active sponsors,” Leventhal says. “Our general contractors, for example, need to be members or sponsors almost as a prerequisite to getting our business. Our architects, engineers, attorneys and title companies need to be members of Valley Partnership — or have a good reason why they are not! It’s important to Evergreen that we collectively support Valley Partnership since we all benefit from its mission to promote responsible development in the Valley. We are all connected in this unique way.”

Liberty Center at Rio Salado is a partnership between Liberty Property Trust and Markham Contracting Co.

Liberty Center at Rio Salado is a partnership between Liberty Property Trust and Markham Contracting Co.

That unique connection, as DMB Associates President Charley Freericks sees it involves Valley Partnership’s advocacy role for developers as well as a genuine passion for making Arizona a great place to live.

“Valley Partnership understands that real estate isn’t the only driver of the economy,” says Freericks. “We are the beneficiaries of a strong and growing economy and it’s in our interest to make this a great place to live.”

Freericks, who has been a member for 10 years, served on the board of directors, was chairman in 2009, and has sat on multiple committees.

Most of DMB Associates’ partners at the developers’ 6,000-acre masterplanned community of Eastmark – and around the Valley – are Valley Partnership members, Freericks says.

“Over the years, we have worked with so many contractors, consultants and service providers who are members it would be hard to name them all,” he says. “In fact it might be difficult to find any that aren’t members.”

Valley Partnership has multiple avenues for paving those partnerships. There are 10 committees, including one for an annual golf tournament and a community building project. One of the most popular and frequent member events, is the Friday Morning Breakfasts — a monthly morning panel discussion about an industry trend featuring local experts.

Freericks reflected on a breakfast about the impact and trade partnership Arizona has with Canada as a particularly helpful one for his masterplanned communities of Eastmark and Victory at Verrado, which target Canadian homebuyers.

“Valley Partnership attracts important speakers and hosts debates of candidates for state and local offices which helps me make better informed decisions,” he says. “The Valley Partnership advocacy team was a huge help to the Fighter Country Partnership efforts to bring the F-35 mission to Luke. This will impact our economy for generations to come. Valley Partnership’s role as the champion for moderate regulation has impacted all of our properties over the years and will continue to do so.”

Heather Markham, vice president of Markham Contracting Co., says her company has been a member of Valley Partnership since 1992 and is also a Stewardship Sponsor. Markham has attended breakfasts for the last five years and is one of the students in Valley Partnership’s inaugural Young Advocates Program. As a co-chair of the Community Project Committee, Markham says she also appreciate’s Valley Partnership’s commitment to networking and giving back to the community.

“I believe this involvement in the community is critical personally as well as professionally for everyone,” she says.

Markham has been self performing grading, paving and wet utilities civil infrastructure in the Southwest since 1977. Though Valley Partnership has only been around since 1987, Markham says the company has worked with many current Valley Partnership companies for nearly four decades. Partners include DMB Associates (Verrado and Eastmark), Macerich (Sonoran Crossing), Sunbelt Holdings (Vistancia), APS, Grayhawk Development, Lennar, Vintage Partners, MT Builders, HilgartWilson, Pulte, Atwell, Dibble Engineering, Wood Patel & Associates, Hoskin & Ryan, Siteworks, Speedie & Associates, Trench Shore Rentals, Alliance Bank of Arizona and Cemex.

“Valley Partnership plays a very strong role in responsible development of the commercial real estate community and provides an excellent venue for all the stakeholders in the process to come together and discuss issues and concerns as well as success stories,” she says. “This promotes strong partnerships between cities, counties, towns, state, land owners, developers, contractors, architects, engineers and every trade partner involved in making Arizona a great place to live and work.”

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Ashton Woods Tops List of Most Trusted Builders in America

Trust is the new currency by which customers evaluate the merits of new-home builders, according to ground-breaking national research of more than 21,500 new- home shoppers in the Lifestory Research Most Trusted Builders in America Study SM.

The study finds that three-fourths of customers (76 percent) report that trust is a critical criterion by which they evaluate the merits of a home builder before making a purchase decision, placing significant emphasis on the perceived trustworthiness of home builder brands. “Home builders need to begin to ask themselves how consumers see their brand in regards to trust if they wish to effectively compete in the current marketplace,” said Lifestory Research President and CEO Eric Snider. “We find that the trust held by a customer toward a home builder is playing a central role among home shoppers as they seek to reduce uncertainty in the high-risk decision of purchasing a new home.”

The Lifestory Research Most Trusted Builders in America Study tracks 133 home builder brands in the top 27 housing markets in the United States.  However, for purposes of examining builders at the national level for this release, a builder brand was included if a builder was in the top 30 builders in the United States and was selling homes in at least three markets.  Based on this, the following brands were included in the national study of the Most Trusted Builders in America: Ashton Woods, Beazer, Centex, DR Horton, David Weekley, Del Webb, Drees, Gehan, Highland (TX), KB Home, KHovnanian, Lennar, M/I, Meritage, Perry, Pulte, Richmond American, Ryan, Ryland, Shea, Standard Pacific, Taylor Morrison, Toll Brothers, Trilogy by Shea Homes, and Woodside.

The Most Trusted Builder in America was Ashton Woods, the nation’s 25th largest builder selling homes in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Antonio and Tampa.  Ashton Woods produced a Net Trust Quotient Score of 111, followed in order by David Weekley Homes (108.5), Trilogy by Shea Homes (106.9), Perry Homes (106.8), Drees Homes (106.8), Meritage Homes (104.2), Highland Homes of Texas (104.2), Taylor Morrison Homes (101.6), M/I Homes (100.8), and Woodside Homes (100.8). Trilogy by Shea Homes also was recognized as the Most Trusted Active Adult Builder in America.

In a shift away from product usage and satisfaction research, Lifestory Research’s investigation focuses on how brands influence the purchase behavior of home shoppers. “We have seen a fundamental shift in consumer psychology that has occurred in response to the massive social revolution that has taken place over the last several years,” Snider said.  “Consumers are referencing customer advocacy organizations less for product information; instead, people are turning to their peers, friends, and digital social networks to garner opinions.  Moreover, in the process of shopping for a home, consumers rely upon their direct experience they have with the multitude of builder brands in a given marketplace.  As a result, we have seen brands rise in importance in the consumer purchase process.”

The study, in its first year, evaluates attitudes from thousands of consumers who are actively in the process of shopping for a new home in one of the top 27 housing markets in the United States.  Trust is measured through the Lifestory Research Net Trust Quotient Score.  This score is based on the fundamental perspective that every organization’s customer can be divided into three categories: “advocates” are customers who feel a significant trust toward a given brand; “neutrals” are customers who trust a specific brand, but they do not see a specific brand as standing on the shoulders of other brands in regards to trust; and “antagonists” are skeptics who have little, if any, trust in a specific brand.

The most effective way to gauge the trust of a brand is to take the percentage of customers who are trust advocates and subtract the percentage of people who are dis-trusters.  Scores are standardized (using z scores and t scores) with 100 being equal to the overall average.  Scores can array above and below the 100 point average.  Each Net Trust Quotient Score represents the net value of a brand on trust.  A brand with a high positive score is an indication that the brand is trusted by a large portion of the target market.  Conversely, a low score is an indication that the brand is not trusted by the consumer marketplace.

To qualify to participate in the study, participants must have met all of the following criteria:  Household located in the metro area of one of the 27 markets in the study (see link for list of markets), a household income in excess of $50,000, between the ages of 25 and 69, actively shopping for a home during the last 90 days, and with intentions of owning their next home (versus renting).

Detailed information about the study can be found at www.lifestoryresearch.com/builderrankings.