Surviving the worst housing market since the Great Depression represents a major achievement for a privately funded builder, but the top 10 for-profit private builders of 2009 were able to do more than just stay alive--they also managed to hold their own against the cash-rich publicly funded builders.
No private for-profit builder took a top 10 on the BUILDER 100 list, but one, Taylor Morrison, at No. 13 with 3,347 closings, came close. (Nonprofit Habitat for Humanity International achieved the rank of No. 8 on the list, with 5,294 closings.)
David Weekley Homes, The Villages, and Shea Homes weren’t too far behind with more than 2,000 closings for each of them. (See sidebar below for individual companies' closings and revenue numbers.) However, Shea Homes, with a 35.2% drop in closings and a 40.1% fall in revenue, dropped several spots, falling behind David Weekley and The Villages.
Yet, as a group, the top 10 private builders were, for the most part, able to stay close to the same spots on the lists they held last year. Woodside Homes, even under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, only dropped one notch, from No. 20 to No. 22, with 1,788 closings in 2009.
Of course, 2009’s difficult business conditions made an undeniable impact on these firms. Business remains a fraction of what it was during home building’s peak, and most large private builders on the BUILDER 100 took a sizeable hit again last year. As a group, closings were down an average of 21%. Revenues were off as well, by 23.9%, as the companies discounted homes to get them sold.
Only one private builder, Ashton Woods Homes, grew closings last year, boosting its business by 9.7% to 1,319 deliveries. However, its revenue still declined 9.5% in 2009.
(Editor’s note: Housing nonprofit Habitat for Humanity, the No. 1 builder on this list of top 10 private builders last year, would have also been the biggest private builder this year based on last year’s criteria. However, this year we decided to restrict this list of the top 10 private builders to for-profit firms only.)
Top 10 For-Profit Private Builders in 2009
1. Taylor Morrison (B100 rank: #13*)
3,347 closings, $1.3 billion revenue
2. David Weekley Homes (B100 rank: #17)
2,229 closings; $690.million in revenue
3. The Villages (B100 rank: #19)
2,115 closings; $658.5 million in revenue
4. Shea Homes (B100 rank: #20)
2,091 closings; $838.9 million in revenue
5. Woodside Homes (B100 rank: #21)
1,788 closings; $469 million in revenue
6. The Drees Co. (B100 rank: #22)
1,500 closings; 519.6 million in revenue
7. Highland Homes (B100 rank: #23)
1,455 closings; $511.2 million in revenue
8. Ashton Woods Homes (B100 rank: #24)
1,319 closings; $319.5 million in revenue
9. McGuyer Homebuilders (B100 rank: #25)
1,280 closings; $325.7 million in revenue
10. Perry Homes (B100 rank: #26)
1,267 closings; $368.7 million in revenue
Source: BUILDER 100
* Numbers in parentheses refer to the company’s overall rank on this year’s BUILDER 100 list.