Latest Blog Posts

Concerts In The Park!

July 16th, 2014

Enjoy a summer night at the Concerts in the Park sponsored by both the City of Claremont and the Claremont Kiwanis Club and features some of the best entertainment in the area. In an effort to appeal to a wide audience, the series features a diverse type of music while including a few traditional groups. Although the concert officially runs from 7:00-8:30pm, the concert goers begin arriving as early as 6:00pm to select a space and enjoy dinner in the park. The Kiwanis Club offers a variety of concessions, from burgers, dogs and quesadillas to ice cream, popcorn, nachos, candy and drinks. Proceeds from the concessions fund the bands. The 2014 series will run thru September 1, and is free and open to the public.

  • Remember: Bring blankets and low chairs.
  • Dogs are not allowed in City Parks other than Claremont Pooch Park.
  • Alcoholic beverages and smoking are not allowed in any City Park.

2014 Concert Schedule

  • July 21 – Cold Duck – 70′s
  • July 28 – Kulayd – Doo-Wop/Motown
  • August 4 – Upstream – Reggae
  • August 11 – LCR – Classic Rock
  • August 18 – Boxcar 7 – Blues/Soul/R&B
  • August 25 – Night Blooming Jazzmen – Dixieland Jazz
  • September 1 – The Answer – Classic Rock

Before you enjoy an evening under the stars be sure to stop by Ivy Walk. Ivy Walk is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm!

Framing Has Begun at Ivy Walk!

July 3rd, 2014


Framing has begun at Ivy Walk! This new community is starting to look like home for our phase 1 buyers!
This great new community is in an ideal location close to shopping, dining, entertainment and is walking distance to Claremont Village.
Don’t let the opportunity to own one of these brand new homes slip by. Stop in today to tour the model!

Despite Volatility, New-Home Starts This Year Surpass Year-Ago Figures

June 19th, 2014

Monthly figures on U.S. home-construction starts make the industry appear bipolar: down significantly in March, up big in April and down again in May.

The reality is, when the focus is broadened to the first five months of this year, home starts have exceeded last year’s tally.

Tuesday’s headlines noted that housing starts in May were 6.5% less than a month earlier. However, the Census’ monthly figures are subject to volatility and substantial revisions. You can get a more reliable picture at this point by examining year-to-date figures, which include most of the spring season.

Consider that, for the first five months of this year, builders started 396,000 dwelling units, not adjusted for seasonality. That’s up 6.6% from the same period last year.

Factoring out the fast-growing multifamily sector, you still get a 2.5% increase in single-family home starts in this year’s first five months (255,600) over the same period of 2013 (249,300).

“When we look over several months to smooth out that volatility, construction clearly is recovering, especially on the multiunit side,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist for real-estate website Trulia, referring to apartments and condominiums.

Mr. Kolko added that, over the past three months, construction starts for both multifamily and single-family exceed the year-ago tally by 10%.

The reasons that the new-home market has slowed to smaller gains this year from rather strong gains last year are well chronicled. Chief among them are rising home prices and interest rates. Even so, many analysts still forecast gains in starts and sales for this year.

“I still maintain my belief that we’re going to have continued increases in housing starts on a trend basis through the rest of this year and into next year,” said Brad Hunter, chief economist for home-building research firm Metrostudy, part of Hanley Wood LLC.

Metrostudy forecasts one million home starts for 2014, an increase of nearly 9% from 2013.

Scott Laurie, president and chief executive of Southern California home builder Olson Co., anticipates selling 30% more homes this year than last year. However, much of that is due to the builder starting new projects. On a per-community basis, which is akin to retailers measuring sales at individual stores against their year-ago numbers, the builder’s sales are flat with its totals from last year.

“For us, the best way to quantify it is that we’re doing just as well as we did last year,” Mr. Laurie said. “And last year was a very good year.”

By Kris Hudson

Best Laid Plans

June 12th, 2014

In the first half of 2013, builders around the country saw buyers return to the market. But to capitalize, they needed to have some homes ready to sell.

“Because we had grown our company every year since 2008, we were well-positioned and well-capitalized to put a lot of inventory on the ground,” says Fred Delibero, CEO of Summit Custom Homes in Kansas City, Mo. “That allowed us to capture a lot of market share before the competitors came back into the market.”

Bonterra Builders in Matthews, N.C., Eagle Construction of Virginia in Glen Allen, Va., and The Olson Co. in Seal Beach, Calif., also stood out from the pack because they made lot purchases and product design decisions during the downturn that fueled massive growth in 2013. These builders marshaled the capital to compete with their larger well-heeled competitors, while staying small and nimble enough to maneuver around them in the hunt for land and labor.

The dramatic rise in closings at these four companies made them among the biggest gainers on our Builder Next 100 list (released in May), while securing top spots in their primary markets. Here’s how they did it.

Getting in at the Bottom
Bud Ohly, president of Eagle, began preparing for the recovery during the recession’s darkest hour. In 2008, he started two distressed real estate funds to scoop up troubled projects. Eagle would assist banks with distressed properties by completing construction, marketing, and even changing light bulbs and mowing yards.

“We got very familiar with a lot of banks and when they had a problem, they’d call us,” explains Ohly, whose closings jumped 74 percent in 2013, a year that saw the firm acquired by the Markel Ventures subsidiary of Glen Allen–based Markel Corp. in August. “We’d analyze the situation and turn those into opportunities to buy good properties. It was kind of a perfect storm where everything came together and really gave us the dry powder to get future projects off the ground.”

Delibero also purchased a number of bank-owned lots in 2009, which fueled his firm’s 61 percent growth in 2013. In a market without any public competition, Summit has an advantage of size that companies like Bonterra and Olson don’t—it’s the market’s biggest builder and one of only a couple that also does development. But securing land is still difficult.

“The demand for land became so incredible so quickly,” Delibero says. “There was a period of time where you were purchasing lots from banks. Then, all of the sudden, prices went up considerably in a short period of time.”

Darren Sutton, president of Bonterra Builders—whose closings jumped 99 percent in 2013—estimates he secured 15 percent to 20 percent of his lots from banks. But that pipeline has since dried up. “You can’t buy the opportunities that we search for from banks anymore,” he says.

In the Charlotte market, which has seven builders among the top 10 nationals, Sutton sought out farmers and land owners who wanted to sell. Quality was his selling point.

“A lot of land owners know the people that own the land around them and they want to make sure they find somebody who will do a good job on it,” Sutton says. “People know we’ll build a nice product on it, so it kind of makes them happy.”

With more than 100 different plans, Bonterra secures lots its bigger competitors often find too small. For instance, Sutton recently picked up a couple of small development infill sites at A-plus locations that will accommodate about 15 homes apiece.

“A lot of this stuff is not something the national guys want,” Sutton says. “They don’t have the product to go on it, and they don’t want to spend the money to develop a product for something that small. But I don’t mind doing that.”

The Olson Co., whose closings jumped 66 percent in 2013, executed a similar strategy to accumulate land. In addition to being able to move quickly, president and CEO Scott Laurie chases complex deals that may have environmental issues and need demolition and new entitlements.

“It’s a pretty good barrier to entry,” Laurie says. “It typically takes two years to get from where we start due diligence to where we’re starting vertical construction. A lot of builders won’t wait for years to get started on the vertical construction.”

The Right Mix
While the downturn gave 2013’s highest risers a chance to gather land at discount prices, it also forced these builders to rethink their product offerings. For instance, Delibero began to focus on energy-efficient products as a way to differentiate Summit from its competitors in the Kansas City market.

“In the downturn, people were starting to become concerned about cost in general, mainly what it cost to own a home,” Delibero explains. “We were able to capitalize on that in our marketing. I think it was an important differentiator.”

Noticing that many of his customers were planning families, Delibero also shifted Summit’s focus from one-and-a-half story ranch homes to two-story homes. “We redesigned our plans to be market relevant and sharpened our pencils in our purchasing and operations and customer follow-up,” he says. “We talked to our buyers and found they were focused on open floor plans. We started from scratch.”

In preparation for the recovery, Eagle constructed an 8,300-square-foot design center in early 2012, which was named the 2012 Best Design Center in North America by the NAHB. Ohly says his company does an “unusual” amount of customization for a builder of its size.

Sutton began the downturn by pulling all of the bells and whistles out of Bonterra’s homes to increase affordability. That didn’t work out very well. So, like Delibero, he went back to the drawing board and added upgrades like brick siding, hardwood, Energy Star products, granite countertops, and 9- and 10-foot ceilings. “I separated myself from the pack of national home builders,” Sutton says.

Finding Material and Labor
The fastest risers of 2013 were able to secure land and tweak their designs during the downturn, when competition was minimal. But as construction picked up, finding labor and materials became something of a wild goose chase.

“The labor pool is still not where it needs to be,” Sutton says. “We had foundations sitting waiting for framers and we were waiting for brick masons. A lot of the labor corps was depleted during the downturn.”

Sutton had to pay his subs more and turn around payments in as swiftly as a week.

“A lot of our vendors that were actually what I called labor-oriented vendors [framers, painters, and drywall hangers] were paid on a weekly basis just to keep us a preferred builder,” Sutton says. “I hate running my business like that, but you have to do what you have to do to get the job done.”

But Bonterra’s size offered Sutton more flexibility than his larger competitors had. “One thing about our organization is that I’m pretty quick to make a decision and we don’t have to run it up a ladder,” Sutton adds. “The publics may have budgets set that they can’t increase [for labor].”

Delibero, without public competition, faces different issues in the hunt for labor. He says some smaller builders might overpay for labor, which forced him to be disciplined as pricing overheated.

“That creates upward pressure in labor and materials costs,” he says. “Public builders know what things should cost and can create equilibrium in market.”

Regardless of with whom these private builders competed or how they went about securing labor and land, they ultimately ending up finding a path to success in 2013. And that was the intent all along.

“My goal was to be pristine in ’13,” Ohly says. “And, we were pretty darn close.”


Summit Custom Homes
Biggest Market/Rank: Kansas City (1)
Market Share in Top Market: 7.5%
Active Selling Communities: 30
Homes Closed in 2013: 180
Projected Closings in 2014: 216

Key to Success in 2013

“In 2008, we retooled the company and shifted our focus from a story-and-a-half ranch product to a two-story product. We also became very focused on green building.”

Future Plans

“Down the road, would we like to be regional? Probably, yes. It would possibly be in 2015. That’s what we’re looking at right now.”

The Olson Co.
Biggest Market/Rank: Los Angeles (8)
Market Share in Top Market: 3.1%
Active Selling Communities: 7
Homes Closed in 2013: 188
Projected Closings in 2014: 215

Key to Success in 2013

“It was the land we bought in 2010 and 2011. We really know the markets. We’re so focused in only building in LA and Orange County. We know the market down to every street and every ZIP code.”

Future Plans
“The key to our success is our discipline. We are very good at saying no. One of the real keys to success is our strategy and knowing what we will and will not do. When we say let’s do something different, we’ve opened Pandora’s box.”

Eagle Construction of Virginia
Biggest Market/Rank: Richmond (2)
Market Share in Top Market: 11.5%
Active Selling Communities: 7
Homes Closed in 2013: 304
Projected Closings in 2014: 249

Key to Success in 2013
“We were ready. We had mature communities selling out and a nice mix of new ones. We had a good combination of mixed-use, high-density, and age-targeted offerings. Many of these properties were purchased with capital raised to invest in distressed projects and land in the dark days.”

Future Plans

“We want to grow into three new geographic markets and become more efficient by decreasing cycle time. We have a major focus on low-maintenance and high-density [communities].”

Bonterra Builders
Biggest Market/Rank: Charlotte (10)
Market Share in Top Market: 3.8%
Active Selling Communities: 25
Homes Closed in 2013: 294
Projected Closings in 2014: 375

Key to Success in 2013

“We increased our community counts and focused on getting the best locations we could. We were pretty aggressive and got some deals from the banks. So, we were able to get some good lot prices going in [on what was delivered in 2013].”

Future Plans

“We’re going to look into expanding into another market. Right now, we’re based out of the Charlotte MSA [metropolitan statistical area], which also encompasses the northern part of South Carolina as well. We’re looking at another market within North Carolina or South Carolina for something that’s a good fit for us.”

By Les Shaver
Builder Magazine

Ivy Walk Ribbon Cutting Event

May 23rd, 2014


On May 22nd, Ivy Walk celebrated a Ribbon Cutting Event with the Pro Tem City Mayor, Claremont Chamber of Commerce and City Council. The model grand opened on May 17th and is already getting quite an interest. Stop in to view the model home and reserve your homesite today! Models are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Ivy Walk’s Model Grand Opening!

May 13th, 2014

Join us this Saturday for the Ivy Walk Model Grand Opening in Claremont! These spacious homes feature up to 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and up to 1,770 square feet of living space and are the perfect place to call home. Ivy Walk is walking distance to Claremont Village. Come view this charming collection of new residences that will take you back to a place and time where you can experience the good life at home. For more information on Ivy Walk please call 562-370-9500.

Builder Magazine Spotlights The Olson Company

May 9th, 2014

The Olson Company was highlighted in a recent issue of Builder Magazine.

Metrostudy says: The Olson Co. is the most significant builder of urban infill housing in California. They specialize in introducing product to unique, often built-out urban areas while staying focused on gentrification and changing demographics.

During the housing downturn, executives at The Olson Co. watched as overall unit count shrank from a high of 787 in 2006 to 126 in 2010. As the market hit bottom, company  executives looked to the firm’s past for inspiration.

Founded 26 years ago as a builder of high-density urban communities in California, the company expanded in the 1990s into luxury suburban and urban developments outside of its core Orange County market. Post-recession, company leaders decided to return to Steve Olson’s original vision of in-town, affordable, transit-based housing for first-time and move-up buyers in urban Los Angeles and Orange County, and the strategy is paying off. Last year the company grew 66 percent doing what it does best: building small-lot attached and detached townhomes in more than 90 cities including Fountain Valley, La Verne, Alhambra, and Fullerton.

“We’ve adhered to our original strategy of building affordable homes in areas that are within walking distance to schools, retail, and parks to reduce our buyers’ commute time,” says CEO Scott Laurie (pictured). “As prices moved up we’ve moved up our prices, but we still try to be the low-price leader for new housing within the marketplace.”

The company leverages its long-standing relationships with local municipalities to help acquire land parcels in desirable areas. “We always go in to a city saying ‘How can we solve your problems?’” he says. “The way we separate ourselves from the competition is that we are full-service, from entitlements and rezoning through buildout.”

The builder has nabbed 15 Eliant Awards for home buyer satisfaction in the past three years by keeping close tabs on what buyers want in a new home. For instance, Olson includes solar standard in some areas and all projects are certified to LEED for Homes. Developments with feng shui elements are a hit with Asian buyers, who make up to 76 percent of buyers in some areas. “When you look at what we do, we have a very good understanding of who the buyer is and where we should and shouldn’t be building,” Laurie says.—Jennifer Goodman

Click here to see full article.

Model Coming Soon at Ivy Walk

May 2nd, 2014

Join our VIP Priority today to take advantage of VIP pricing and home selection in phase one! A private model showing and sales release will be held for the VIP Priority list.

Ivy Walk will offer 3 to 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, up to approximately 1,770 square feet and is walking distance to Claremont Village. Stop by for more information sales center is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Exploring Claremont

April 25th, 2014


Uncover the timeless charm and new energy of Ivy Walk as you discover the historic city of Claremont. In just a short walk, explore the center of all things enticing at Claremont Village. With over 150 thriving businesses, everything from shopping for the latest trends and dining at premier restaurants to treating yourself to a pampering massage can be accomplished in one trip. Meet up with neighbors and venture out to the weekly Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market to taste the freshest produce and enjoy one-of-a-kind art pieces. Trek through the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains with a hike at Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, or opt for a relaxing picnic at one of 22 local community parks. Local schools are within minutes of home. Plus, an ideal location close to freeways makes commuting to and from Claremont an effortless journey.

Join Our VIP Priority List Today!

April 15th, 2014


Get pre-qualified today and join our VIP priority list. As an official VIP at Ivy Walk, you will be given exclusive access to private events and priority home selection. A private model showing and sales release will be held for the VIP Priority list. Our homes will offer up to 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and up to approximately 1,770 square feet. Stop by today for more information.