Two years ago, Lance Williams hit a wall. The way he had been financing Williams Homes, a Santa Clarita, Calif.–based company he founded in 1997, which relied primarily on banks, friends, and family, just wasn’t providing enough capital for him to take advantage of new acquisition opportunities that the housing recession was presenting.
In 2009, he started putting out feelers to private equity firms, including a “cold call” to IHP Capital Partners, in Irvine, Calif. But IHP, one of the country’s largest real estate investment firms, initially wasn’t receptive to the kind of financial relationship that Williams was seeking.
Williams kept in contact with IHP, though, and his perseverance paid off last week when the two companies announced they had entered into a “strategic affiliation,” in essence a joint-venture partnership that provides Williams Homes with “substantial additional capacity” to expand its home building and development operations.
For the past year and a half, Williams Homes has been accumulating land, and it currently controls more than 500 lots throughout Southern California. The builder, which generated $17 million in revenue from 51 closings last year, is looking to bump both numbers up, aiming to reach $27 million from 80 closings in 2011. The three communities it opened in 2010 should close out this year, and the company intends to open two more communities in 2011 and another three in 2012.
Next month, it expects to consummate two deals: the first is for 69 lots in Los Angeles’ South Bay area, which have tentative map approvals in place and where Williams Homes intends to build houses that would sell in the mid-$300,000 range; the second for 18 raw lots in San Dimas, Calif., which Williams says he wants to develop into “a little jewel box” community with semi-custom homes in the $900,000 range.
The builder projects that the sale of homes in these two deals alone should generate $30 million in revenue.
Williams, who before starting his own company had worked for Watt Companies and Beazer Homes, is cognizant of the dangers facing growing builders that outrun their management structure. To that end, over the past few years his company has added talent that includes its Executive Vice President Keith Herren, who previously worked for the builder/developer Newhall Ranch; and its Senior Vice President of Development Operations Robert Barjam, who had spent 15 years with SunCal Companies.
“We believe Williams Homes has a premier management team and exceptional building platform,” said Jay Pruitt, IHP’s senior vice president, in a prepared statement. Builder was unable to reach Pruitt for further comment.
Williams describes his company as a niche infill builder of single-family houses and townhomes whose prices range from $169,000 to more than $1 million.
John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.