Greg Lingo sold Cornell Homes in July to Ryland Group, and is now president of Ryland’s Philadelphia division.
“For us, we were looking at a market that was definitely improving,” says Lingo about his decision to sell the company he founded in 2006. “We had gotten ourselves into the No. 3 position in Philadelphia with ‘mattress money’ from friends, family, and personal investment. But that could only get us so far.”
Lingo was approached by other builders, but ultimately chose Ryland, which he calls “the perfect partner.” Lingo liked Ryland’s “decentralized” approach “that leverages the know-how of the local operator.” He got assurances that Cornell Homes’ 40 or so employees would be maintained after the acquisition. And Lingo says he hit it off with Ryland’s CEO Larry Nicholson and COO Pete Skelly. “They are two people I thought I could work for.”
As an independent builder, Lingo spent half of his time “making sure our banking relationships were there.” Now, he turns over those responsibilities to Ryland, and concentrates “on things we like to do best, like acquiring ‘A’ locations and maintaining strong subcontractor relationships. Now, we can focus on leading.”
Hamill and Larry Canarelli had been business partners since 1991. They still own land in Colorado. But when Canarelli’s Las Vegas-based American West Development ran into financial trouble last year that lead to a bankruptcy filing, Hamill realized Oakwood’s growth would need a new financial source.
There were several suitors, Hamill says. But Denver-based Oakwood had already established a relationship with Mountain Real Estate Capital (MREC), with which it had acquired the 2,600-acre Banning Lewis Ranch in Colorado Springs, Colo. In March 2012, MREC entered into a strategic partnership with Oakwood, and committed more than $100 million to the builder’s expansion into second-tier markets.
Since that deal was consummated, Oakwood has moved into Omaha, Neb., and Salt Lake City. Hamill—who retained his partnership—told BUILDER in August that he had just met with two builders that Oakwood is interested in acquiring. The company is on pace to close about 600 homes in 2013, and 1,000 next year.
Carl Mulac sold Joseph Carl Homes to Avatar Holdings in October 2010. He’s now president of Avatar Properties.
Mulac and his partner, Reuben Leibowitz of Jen Partners, launched Phoenix-based Joseph Carl Homes in spring 2008. Twenty months later, the pair accepted a $62 million acquisition offer from Florida-based Avatar Holdings.
It seemed like a perfect fit, recalls Mulac, as Avatar’s Solavita, a master planned community for active adults in Poinciana, Fla., “was very similar to our footprint” at Canta Mia, an active-adult community in Goodyear, Ariz.
Inevitably, there were “integration issues,” says Mulac, noting that it took 18 months for the builder and developer to mesh. Only last year did AV Homes (Avatar’s name now) finish installing a new accounting system.
But things have worked out well, says Mulac, who heads AV’s home building arm. Through six months as of June 30, AV reported a 33.6 percent increase in closings, and a 42.9 percent gain in home building revenue. In July, the investment firm TPG paid $135 million to acquire 41.9 percent of AV Homes, which recently acquired several pieces of land in Phoenix and is searching for home building opportunities both within and outside of Arizona and Florida.