Case Studies

Homewood Corporation

Building Unique Communities in Central Ohio

George Skestos founded Homewood Corporation (Homewood) in 1963 as small local builder in central Ohio. Still based in Columbus today, the company has grown steadily for 50 years. It is evident that the company has made a name for itself, as Homewood has constructed approximately 4,000 homes since opening its doors.

Jim Lipnos, now president of Homewood, oversees day to day operations. His crew of 50 sales representatives, administrative staff and project managers build unique developments in 28 communities across the region.

“We have always been a land-rich builder,” Jim explains. “We have been buying land as far back as 20 years ago in prime real estate locations. We held onto it for a long time and we are developing it Rnow. We have land in Hilliard, Dublin and the Olentangy school district, all of which we purchased 10 to 20 years ago.”

In order to satisfy an array of clients, the company has two main product lines. Homewood Homes, which range from $180,000 to $250,000, as well as Ambassador Homes, which are between $300,000 and $500,000, provide varying options for clients.

“For the Homewood Homes line, our target market is young families,” he elaborates. “We are in some good school districts, we have affordable pricing. We give people a good alternative to renting.”

Homewood takes it even a step further. “We also have a buy back program,” Jim says. “If you have an existing home and want to move up to one of our homes, we buy your home for fair market value and close on your new home the same day. We either take the old house and flip it to sell again, or we turn it into a rental. It’s hard enough for young families to get loans or down payments, so we do rent to own programs on many of the houses we buy back.”

Great Places to Live

Homewood has been working on a number of unique subdivision projects over recent years. The team is currently working on a new product line for Avondale Woods, a mixed community consisting of single-family and multifamily properties in Dublin.

“This development will have everything from rental apartments for young couples to entry level homes on 60-foot-wide lots, all the way to luxury homes on 90- to 100-foot lots,” says Jim. “This development is in the city of Dublin. There will be another rental part of the neighborhood for people 55 and older. We have got this whole life cycle of demographics. The idea is that generations of the same families can live together in the same area and walk back and forth to see each other on walking paths. This will also allow people to transition comfortably in life from one stage to another. People get engrained in a community, so now they don’t have to leave as they move along to the next stage.”

Currently, the team is tackling several projects of a similar scope. “We have two in Hilliard, the Carr property and Alton Darby – our working names are for roads or previous owners,” Jim explains. “We have another in the Olentangy school district. These are two very good districts in central Ohio. These neighborhoods will be large, single-family developments on large tracts of land, similar to Avondale as far as variety.”

Jim goes on to explain that there will be a range of lot sizes, as well as neighborhood amenities. “We have found that people are choosing areas to live in that have features such as walking paths and clubhouses,” he continues. “There has to be something to set you apart from a standard subdivision and draw people to the area. One factor is the school district; the other is what is nearby. Location is important, especially considering pedestrians or kids riding bikes. We are taking this more into account when we bring developments online.”

Being Good Neighbors

Like many developers, Homewood faced major challenges after the housing bubble burst a few years back. “Years ago, we were building between 400 and 500 homes per year,” Jim explains. “Currently we are building between 125 and 150 homes per year. We are not the biggest builder in town, nor do we want to be. We build what we can manage and what we are staffed for. With uncertainty in the market, we are set up to build about 150 homes this year so that’s what we’ll do. We’re not sure that we want to staff up to build 250, because there is still some uncertainty. We are cautiously optimistic. We don’t want to staff up if we don’t have to.”

Although George Skestos, owner of Homewood, is 85 years old, he is still very involved in the daily operations. According to Jim, this level of commitment across the board continues to set the company apart; the entire team is proud to uphold the Homewood name.

“I’m primarily involved in land development, so for me, it is rewarding anytime we get approval,” Jim continues. “For the company as a whole, though, I’m really proud of how we handled the downturn in the market and instituted this buy back program. It has helped us survive and helped people in our community survive. We have ensured that people could get in or out of homes as they needed depending on their situation. Many people can’t get a down payment or a loan, but we can get them into rentals. Now, a few years later, they are purchasing those homes.”

As the economy turns around, Jim and George are cautiously optimistic for the future of the market. The challenge now is securing reputable subcontractors. During the downturn, many of the company’s longstanding strategic partners went out of business. Now that there is more work afloat, Homewood is competing for contractors with other developers. Jim and his crew have put major time and energy into maintaining and developing relationships with contractors.

As business picks up, the Homewood team is looking forward to breaking ground on new unique communities. With a strong stock of land nearly ready to go, Homewood is focusing on infrastructure for the next phase. After 50 years, Homewood Corporation continues to build strong foundations for lasting relationships across the board, from renters to strategic partners.

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Spring 2018

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