From left, Tony Avila, Builder Advisor Group; Bird Anderson, Wells Fargo; and Kate Kaminski, Walton Global, discuss land, capital, and build-to-rent during “The Penciling Playbook: Strategies to Unlock the Deal” panel at the Builder 100 Conference.
Kathleen Clark Photography From left, Tony Avila, Builder Advisor Group; Bird Anderson, Wells Fargo; and Kate Kaminski, Walton Global, discuss land, capital, and build-to-rent during “The Penciling Playbook: Strategies to Unlock the Deal” panel at the Builder 100 Conference.

On the final day of the Builder 100 Conference in Dana Point, California, four sessions touched on topics ranging from performance marketing and circularity in construction to land and capital.

Here are six takeaways from day three of the Builder 100 Conference at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel:

  1. Capital markets are tighter, relationships are as important as ever. While in the past when bank capital has been tight, it has spawned from banks suffering credit losses. However, that is not the case in the current environment, according to Bird Anderson, managing director and head of home builder banking for Wells Fargo. Other dynamics are at play, including the interest rate shock from 18 months ago and regulatory changes. Anderson said banks are open, but capital is being rationed and banks are more selective. “When [capital] is rationed, it goes to the highest yield, which means it goes to the relationships that have the highest returns and new opportunities that have the highest returns,” Anderson said during “The Penciling Playbook: Strategies to Unlock the Deal” session.
  2. The usual suspects continue to stand out in the land market. Participating on the panel with Anderson, chief operating officer of Walton Global Kate Kaminski said it is relatively easier to get land deals done in the Sun Belt. She said California, Colorado, and areas where there are more restrictions on getting approvals and environmental challenges translate to more difficult land conditions. However, the Southeast, Texas, and Arizona can still have challenges, including water and infrastructure issues. “Those [states] that are releasing land that is available for affordable housing supply are where we’re continuing to see the most strength and where we’re going to continue to focus,” Kaminski said.
  3. BTR investments are on pause until market conditions improve. Panelists Anderson, Kaminski, and Builder Advisor Group founder and CEO Tony Avila agreed that the build-to-rent market is dormant. Avila said BTR is on hold until a more reasonable cost of capital emerges to help deals move forward; Anderson noted demand for BTR deals is low; and Kaminski said BTR remains on the back burner until market conditions improve.
  4. The entire customer journey matters. During his “Cross-Industry Insights: Upping Your Performance Marketing Game” presentation, MidOcean Partners digital operating partner Bob Myers discussed the importance of the omnichannel customer journey and the power of generative artificial intelligence. Myers shared examples of how other industries, including food and retail, are finding success exploring omnichannel approaches and deploying AI to enhance the customer experience. AI is reshaping consumer expectations and industry dynamics, and omnichannel lead-gen advancements can help bridge online convenience with the physical world, according to Myers.
  5. 3D printing and innovative design approaches are delivering results in the present. Highlighting 3D-printed projects by ICON in Texas and Arizona and low-cost, shipping container student housing in Copenhagen, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, partner at Bjarke Ingels Group, explained how personalized, sustainable, attainable, technology-forward futuristic living communities are already being built. Bergmann also highlighted ICON’s prototype robotic-arm-mounted 3D printer and the efficiencies the company hopes it can deliver. The 70-foot-tall, crane-like system allows for higher 3D-printed construction than currently possible with ICON’s Vulcan printer. The crane system allows the machine to build multiple structures in a single vicinity with only minor adjustments and only a few people to monitor progress.
  6. The concept of circularity can deliver value, improve sustainability. Shailesh Lekhwani, associate partner at McKinsey & Co., described the concept of circularity as similar to playing with a Lego set: The bricks are manufactured, used to build a structure, and, rather than being thrown away at the end the structure’s life span, they are broken down to be reused on a future structure. He said the concept applied to the built environment can reduce material waste, improve sustainability, and reduce emissions. Currently, the built environment accounts for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions; according to Lekhwani, 75% of emissions from the built environment can be reduced if circularity is done right. In addition to environmental impacts, exploring the concept of circularity—different than recycling—can deliver cost reductions and reduced supply chain volatility, including raw material price volatility and supply chain risks, he added.