B&D Interview: Bryan Havel

Builder and Developer: What sets Tri Pointe Homes apart from other builders?

Bryan Havel: Tri Pointe Homes is one of the largest public homebuilders in the US. Our business model combines the financial resources, technology platforms and proven leadership of a national organization with the regional insights, long standing community ties and agility of empowered local teams. This unique “big and small” approach has served us well during a time of unprecedented buyer demands and worldwide supply constraints.

We have a long history in Texas (which was established 50 years ago under the name Trendmaker Homes) and an ample supply of lots upon which to build, including those in master-planned communities and lots we develop.

BD: What kinds of green/smart tech and amenities are featured in your properties? What inspired Tri Homes to include those features?

Havel: As part of LivingSmart®, a program committed to healthy and environmentally responsible business practices, all our homes are designed and independently certified to exceed local energy codes. The homes are also enhanced with money saving, energy-efficient features throughout. Each home also includes features from Tri Pointe Homes’ HomeSmart® program that provides the comfort, security and Wi-Fi connectivity residents need to control many of their home features, from Wi-Fi controlled thermostat and light switches to mesh Wi-Fi systems and Ring Video doorbells.

BD: Has COVID/work from home impacted design/layout choices for upcoming models?

Havel: COVID-19 has led to an increase in people working and schooling from home, a trend that has resulted in more buyers searching for housing with multipurpose or flex capabilities. You can see this in the additional inclusion of flex spaces in the home – rooms that are designed to be flexible to fit the needs of your work or family situation – i.e., having a room that can serve as a home office space or a classroom for those who have opted for virtual learning environments.

The trend of higher-tech homes was already established before the pandemic, of course, but we’re seeing further escalation here as people demand more from their living (and working and educational) spaces. With HomeSmart features, part of our LivingSmart program, homeowners benefit from, among other things, a Wi-Fi mesh network that helps eliminate dead zones in the home, making in-home connectivity more accessible to everyone.

Last but not least, there has been an uptick in the demand for multi-generational functionality in homes as more buyers are looking to accommodate elderly relatives given the increased health concerns about denser traditional senior housing.

BD: What trends are you noticing based on buyer requests?

Havel: We do believe buyers will continue to desire flexibility, both in their lifestyles and work routines, values that must be supported spatially, such as with a home office/study or flex space that can be turned into a home gym. Remember that co-working spaces, the gig economy, and the general increase in technology jobs were pre-pandemic trends fueling that need – or possibility – of flexibility. Now with COVID-19, the work-from-home option is even more entrenched. Interestingly, homebuilding became a strength through COVID as the ability for people to have a home became more important.

BD: With the Austin housing market booming, where do you see the market going in the upcoming year?

Havel: We expect the market to remain strong through the end of the year. Austin has rapidly become one of the biggest boom markets in the country with a combination of population and job growth. It has been one of the fastest growing cities in the nation for the past decade, and that growth seems sustainable given the desire of buyers and companies to relocate for the lower cost of living. Austin ranks second nationally for homebuilding prospects with corporate relocations including Oracle and Tesla cementing the market’s future growth.

BD: In your opinion, what is attracting California buyers to Austin?

Havel: Austin has its own special vibe and lifestyle that is attractive to many. People are also attracted to opportunity, which continues to grow with the steady pace of corporate relocations to Austin. Residents and companies are enticed by Texas’ low cost of living and pro-business approach, leading to more jobs and further migration, especially from the West Coast. As such, all the homebuilders here in Austin are also continuing to see a big influx of buyers from California. Even in the shutdown period when some of the buyers were struggling to fly down, they were really comfortable with doing things virtually to continue to buy homes here.

BD: How has Tri Pointe been affected by the material shortage/supply chain?

Havel: One of the biggest issues facing our industry is delays in the supply chain. Tri Pointe Homes is working diligently with our trade partners to secure all materials, while simultaneously identifying additional suppliers and alternate materials of equivalent quality. These circumstances, combined with labor shortages and the increased demand for new homes have caused extended cycle times throughout the industry. Our focus during these challenging times is to continue to provide our customers with an abundance of constant communication as we navigate these supply and labor challenges. While the build times may be extended, our top goal is to ensure we still deliver a premier homebuying experience and dream home for our customers.

BD: What are some future plans for Tri Pointe that you are excited about?

Havel: Our Tri Pointe Homes Austin division is excited about the new communities we are opening in Austin as well as the innovative home plans we continue to add to our product line-up. As many builders focus on selling inventory homes, we believe we can continue to offer a differentiated experience by allowing buyers to choose their floor plan and lot and have the opportunity to visit our design studio to customize their dream home. As the Austin market continues to expand, we are excited to have a strong pipeline of well-located communities and homesites to grow along with the market and delight new homebuyers for many years to come.

Bryan Havel is the division president of Tri Pointe Homes Austin.