Gables-Based Homebuilder CC Homes Sees Increase in Sales
The mantra of real estate is, of course, location, location, location. But in the case of CC Homes, it is also timing, timing, timing. With a huge inventory of home sites, many acquired at bargain prices during the Great Recession, the Coral Gables-based home builder is now sitting in the proverbial catbird seat, with sales of new, single-family homes exploding.
According to recent figures provided by BHHS/EWM, single- family home sales across Miami-Dade and Broward counties rose about 10 percent July through September, compared with a year earlier. But if you look at homes that were built in just the last five years, that figure jumps to a nearly 60 percent increase. That is the CC Homes niche.
CC Homes was formed by Jim Carr and Armando Codina in 2008, when the two close friends decided to buy and develop large tracks of land throughout Florida. Codina had already built a real estate fortune constructing office buildings in Downtown Miami and Coral Gables, and warehouse space west of Miami International Airport. Carr, meanwhile, had years of experience building thousands of homes as the founder of Westbrooke Communities and then Carr Residential.
In what proved to be uncannily good timing for CC Homes, the global recession of 2008-2009 bottomed out the real estate market and proffered immense opportunities. “Originally we started by buying land and debt when all hell broke loose,” says Jim Carr. “The original plan didn’t actually include housing construction, but we were buying land at very favorable prices and found the best way to monetize our investment was to build ourselves.”
Since land cost represents up to a third of the price of a house, that meant CC Homes could sell quality housing at lower prices. And they could provide a middle class lifestyle for those willing to commute. In Ave Maria, for example – a small town 25 miles northeast of Naples – they purchased close to 2,500 lots. “It was at a good price and we were able to pass that along” in homes they could sell from the low $200,000 range to the low $300,000 range.
“The most important thing to a family is security and education,” says Carr. And that Ave Maria location? It wasn’t just about commuting to Naples, he says. “It’s an hour drive to Sawgrass Mills. So instead of buying an old house in West Broward, for the same price you could get something new and super safe. I mean, these were new communities where your kids could leave their bicycles outside without a lock. And with good, new schools.”
More recently, CC Homes has focused on South Florida, especially in pockets of southern Broward County and in Doral, the west Miami-Dade city where Codina has in recent years built a live-work-play downtown. In both areas, the housing is relatively affordable, albeit at higher prices than inland. New homes at their Marbella community in Miramar (which they purchased for its debt) range from the low $600,000 to the low $700,000 range, for homes that are 2,500 to 4,000-square feet. Other projects are in Cooper City, Southwest Ranches and Davie.
In Doral, the housing is more vertical, more urban and more expensive. While some of their townhouses there start at $500,000, many of their larger, more prestigious models start at over $1 million. Even here, however, CC Homes has hit a sweet spot. According to the data, sales of new homes for $1 million or more is the fastest growing category in South Florida; in Miami-Dade alone, from July to September, sales in that category grew by almost 90 percent over the previous year.
“Our sales on all projects are up,” says Carr. In October, for example, CC Homes (now one of the top five homebuilders inSouth Florida) sold 65 homes, three times the number sold in October 2019. “People want single family homes,” says Carr. “They want to spread out a little – and be safe.”
“Home building is a great business as long as Jim Carr is making the decisions,” says Codina. “He is the best partner and friend a person could have… the other part is his civic commitment.” Carr has been involved with Baptist Health South Florida for the past 20 years and is currently chairman of the board. With that connection in mind, CC Homes recently sweetened their deals in Doral and Ave Maria by offering new homebuyers complimentary Baptist Health Digital Health Kits, which offer unlimited virtual care visits and include personal self-exam devices. As their release said, “access to high quality healthcare is the greatest luxury.” Well, maybe, except for affordable new homes.