For Kathy Britton, driving around communities, walking development sites, and seeing new homes isn’t just part of her job. It’s been her whole life. Growing up, she spent her time off from school on sites with her dad, Bob Perry, founder of Houston-based Perry Homes. Britton’s first job in high school was working as a model homes greeter and her first job out of law school was in Perry Homes’ land acquisitions division.
When hen her father unexpectedly passed away at the age of 80 in April 2013, Britton was stunned. He had been in good health only days before. But from a professional standpoint, Britton was ready because Perry had prepared his daughter to one day step into his shoes.
After taking a moment for herself and family, Britton’s next priority was taking care of the Perry Homes family. “My primary goal was communicating to the employees that the company would continue, to ensure stability and security for them, that they’d have a place to work,” she says.
The next step was making sure she followed through on that promise. As the owner and CEO, Britton had to move quickly to keep Perry Homes on pace with the market.
“The market had been down just prior to his death. The lot supply was dwindling a bit, which was part of the strategy, but then immediately that 2013 market just went gangbusters,” says Britton. “I was thrilled to see the sales were great and we were going to do fantastic in the year after he passed, but we were down to less than an 18-month lot supply.”
Perry Homes’ land acquisition team aggressively secured lots in Houston. Once the company’s primary market was secured, there was still more to be done. Oil prices started to slump a year later and Britton needed a strategy for surviving the local downturn.
Making It Her Own
To continue to thrive, Perry Homes needed to diversify. In 2015, Britton lead the company into the Austin market, and most recently, into the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) market.
The company first entered DFW 25 years ago, but the recession ultimately forced it to pull out. Britton also believes the product the company offered at the time – urban style housing in close-in neighborhoods – wasn’t right for the Dallas buyer.
In March, Perry Homes acquired Scott Felder Homes’ DFW operations. BR Homebuilding Group purchased Scott Felder Homes in September 2014, operating in Austin and San Antonio. Under BR Homebuilding’s control, Scott Felder Homes created start-up operations in Dallas that it later sold to Perry Homes. The Dallas operations were focused on putting together an impressive lot portfolio and designing a higher end product for that market. When Perry Homes acquired the DFW operations, only a few homes were under development and none had yet closed. BR Homebuilding Group continues to own and operate Scott Felder Homes in Austin and San Antonio.
The new product line, with prices from $500,000 to $750,000, in Dallas, which will be sold under a the newly created Britton Homes brand, is targeting a luxury buyer with gourmet kitchens, luxurious master suites, and more technology, energy efficiency and security upgrades.
According to Metrostudy’s Dallas-Fort Worth regional director Paige Shipp, Dallas is looking healthy, with 114,100 jobs added year-over-year in June. But the last two quarters have shown a possible oversupply in the higher end market, though. Shipp warns the inventory will likely only continue rising. In the lower price points, there’s a sizeable lack of supply, which could open Perry Homes to bring its own brand into the DFW market.
“The long-term plan is to have a mix [of price points],” says Britton. “We will sprinkle in some Perry products [throughout Dallas].”
Perry Homes has two contracts in the works in the DFW area for a more mid-level priced product. Britton says Perry Homes will create a new product for the Dallas buyer and will maintain prices below $400,000. Anything more expensive than that will be sold under the Britton Homes brand.
Honoring the Past
November marks the beginning of Perry Homes’ 50th year in business, which has Britton looking back to find what has made it so successful.
“My dad taught me our employees and our reputation are always our greatest assets, and that we should operate businesses with character and integrity,” says Britton.
In the three years she’s been heading Perry Homes, it’s easy to see Britton follows that. She’s quick to give credit to her team, like the fellow executives who worked with her father for more than 20 years and the team at Scott Felder Homes who made Britton Homes possible.
In 2014, Perry Homes closed on 1,747 homes with $651 million in revenue, and in 2015, closed on 1,706 homes with $676 million in revenue. Britton expects similar figures for this year.
With that continued success, Britton hopes she can continue her father’s legacy as a trusted home builder and produce new home lines for more Texans.
“It’s really a privilege to honor him with what we’re doing here,” says Britton, “but to move it forward and evolve it in an exciting way.”