The end of the year is a time for all of us to pause and reflect. What went really well during the past 12 months? What’s on your to-do list for the coming year? As you look ahead, are you hopeful about accomplishing some of those goals?
Builders do the same.
Geoff Bowen, the new president of the Lake Norman Home Builders, recently went through that process officially with more than a dozen leaders of the association. They spent time analyzing the ups and downs, and planning for the coming year. This week, he and his business partner have been going through the same process.
A year ago, as business slowed, Geoff and his wife, Deborah, wound down their former company, EFC Builders. They partnered with developer Jeff Cernuto in a new company called Princeton Builders and said they were optimistic about 2012.
As this year closes, they’re even more optimistic about 2013. “We are, we are,” Geoff Bowen said. “And I speak for the (Lake Norman) builders as well as for Geoff and Deborah and our new partner. ... There seems to be a resurgence in new construction.”
He sold the first speculative house in at least three years, he said, and the talk of interest in new homes is starting to rise above a whisper.
Falling membership in groups like the Lake Norman Home Builders hints at how tough times have been.
It its peak, Bowen said, the association had 650 members. Last year, the roster of builders, subcontractors, suppliers and others had dwindled to close to 200. But it has rebounded, and is likely to hit 240 or 250 in the coming year.
Before they partnered with Cernuto, the Bowens hadn’t built a house in several years, despite their success and recognition. They kept the doors open at EFC with renovation jobs.
Geoff Bowen chuckles when he describes the initial meeting with Cernuto: “Here’s a starving builder and a starving developer. If we get together, at least we’ll have company.”
They took a deep breath and built a house for sale in Fern Leaf in Mooresville, off Perth Road on the east side of the lake.
He remembers the details, because they were so important to the success of the fledgling company.
They started the house on April 23 and completed it in 67 days. They put it on the market on a Friday in June and had an offer within two weeks. Financing was a problem for the prospective buyer, so they put it back on the market – and had another offer within a couple of weeks. The sale closed in September.
The 3,327-square-foot house sold for $370,000.
A few years ago, Bowen said, families could talk about buying, but didn’t have any real chance of selling their existing homes. That’s changing as the market rebounds. There’s increased interest from prospective buyers from out of state, from places like California and the Northeast.
“Now,” Bowen said, “they can do more than talk.”
And, as the year closes, Princeton has started two more houses on that same street in Fern Leaf.