PulteGroup, Inc. recently announced that Rebecca Lundberg was been promoted to division president of the company’s Arizona operations. Lundberg has been with the firm for 13 years and began her career in the sales department in Arizona. Most recently she served as the vice president of operations in the Northern California division.
Starting her career on the customer-facing front lines turned out to be excellent training. “The value of starting in sales is that you learn firsthand what’s important to our customers and how to serve them well because you get to hear it directly from them,” she says.
Lundberg is moving from one red hot real estate market to another, but there are distinct differences. “In Northern California our approach to success centered largely around building urban infill communities that are within, or proximate to, employment- and transit-corridors,” she says. “That often translated into building higher density homes near BART stations, bridges or freeways that afforded our home owners quick access to their employers.”
There isn’t going to be much urban infill in her new assignment, which in many ways will be like coming home as Lundberg graduated from the University of Arizona and landed her first job with Pulte in Tucson. In Arizona it’s still all about traditional development.
“In Arizona, we have a diverse geographic portfolio offering single-family communities in more suburban locations,” she says. “Our approach for success focuses on continuing to have a strong presence in diverse locations throughout the state.”
Although land acquisition would appear to be easier in the southwest, along with a more relaxed attitude towards regulation, Lundberg is not predicting an easy go of it. “I do not anticipate the regulatory pressures to ease, nor for there to be easier access to land in Arizona,” she says. “The land acquisition environment is highly competitive with all the national public builders having a presence here and competing for the same land to position themselves for long term growth in the market.”
According to BUILDER’s Local Leaders list, Pulte is currently in fourth place in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale market, trailing three other home building heavyweights, D.R. Horton, Lennar, and AV Homes. Lundberg believes that the Phoenix market is currently a victim of its own popularity in regards to keeping up with the demand for housing.
“The regulatory agencies are resource constrained, with many imposing new rules to manage the increased volume,” she says. “This is causing significant delays in many municipalities; however, we are working with our consultants, trades, and municipal partners to find new ways to manage the increased volume.”
Lundberg will also be dealing with an ongoing issue in the home building industry – a shortage of warm, knowledgeable bodies with wrenches. “Trade labor constraints on both the horizontal and vertical sides of the business continue to be our biggest challenge, creating cost and time pressures,” she says. “Phoenix permits grew from almost 20k in 2017 to over 22k in 2018. We are on track for over 22k permits again in 2019, yet we aren’t seeing the same growth in the number of available and skilled-trades people or companies.”
Lundberg sees good things for her return to Arizona. She points to the state’s trifecta of low unemployment, low housing supply, and low interest rates, which helps keep the odds in Pulte’s favor. She looks at a recent bump in luxury move-up sales as another good omen.
With most of her working life spent in the shelter business, it’s the people inside the buildings that keep her happy at work. “I love helping people build the American dream,” she says. “It may sound cliché, but it’s wonderful that each and every day I get to come to a place where we help people get into a beautiful, brand new home. When you look back on life that’s what you remember. The fact that we are a part of the place people build those memories is extremely fulfilling.”