David J. Borreson is CEO and founder of Peachtree Residential Properties, a 19-year-old privately held Atlanta-based company with 276 closings and $126 million in revenue last year. Peachtree was the 11th biggest builder in the crowded Atlanta market in 2005, based on revenue, and the fifth ranked private. The company specializes in move-up homes with an average sale price last year of $470,000. Before starting Peachtree, Borreson was president of Pulte Homes' Georgia division. He lives in north Atlanta with his wife and daughter. Borreson spoke with Associate Editor, Teresa Burney, in January.
BB: How has the slowdown affected the Atlanta home building market?
DB: There is certainly less traffic, but there are a lot of good qualified buyers out there. In traditional housing, Atlanta has generally had a nice steady increase in pricing and appreciation so investors aren't as quite as fond [of it] as some other markets–which is fine with us.
DB: There are numerous transactions out there right now that are starting to get a little bit more buyer friendly. But the really good transactions are still being negotiated and put under contract fairly quickly. We have always been very, very fussy about our land positions. Sometimes that works to our benefit and sometimes it means we pay a pretty price for it. But it also means we tend to have very little competition.
BB: You offer your buyers a chance to highly customize their house early in the process. Do you think that helps you minimize your cancellation rates by tying the buyer more emotionally to the home?
DB: I certainly do. When we can get them more involved in the process and it is more personalized, they can't just put that aside and find something the same.
BB: How do you distinguish yourself in a market like Atlanta where there are so many builders competing for a share of the pie?
DB: The first way is the quality of one's land position, and doing a good quality job. What we are trying to do now is tailor our homes to customers' needs. That's another point of differentiation. Another is product design. I know there are people in the market who don't think that you can differentiate yourself too much [with product design], but I disagree.
BB: Let's talk about your passions in life. I understand golf is one of them. Tell me about that hole-in-one at Pebble Beach.
DB: I was playing in a tournament out there, a PGA tour [event] in 2001. We were playing the 17th hole and I knocked it in. I hit a 6-iron ? it was a par 3. I've tried several times since, but the magic seems to have eluded me.
BB: How many times have you played Pebble Beach?
DB: I am embarrassed to say. Pebble Beach is addictive, even if you never knock it into the hole.
BB: What are your other sources of fun and enjoyment?
DB: We enjoy some boating and travel. My daughter and I [snow] ski. We have created dad and daughter ski weekends.
BB: When you say boating, are you talking about on the lakes around Atlanta?
DB: No, in the Low Country. Life is just a little bit too full around here. We enjoy spending time down below Charleston, S.C. We did one trip where we went from Kiawah Island, down the Intracoastal, and ended up staying in Harbour Town Marina [on Hilton Head Island] and playing some golf. We got to see one beautiful setting after the next.
BB: When you go away do you turn off all the electronic tethers?
DB: No, [but] that would be an interesting thought. I've acquired the talent to do both. You can't just turn it off. That's why they call them Crackberries.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.