20th Anniversary: Residential Real Estate Then and Now

October 31st, 2014

This year Brandywine Homes celebrates its 20th Anniversary as a homebuilder and developer in Southern California.  Join us this week as we look back at our history over the years.

1994: Housing began its comeback as buyers snapped up bargains following a long downturn. “It may not be enough to entirely lift Los Angeles out of its economic quagmire,” the Los Angeles Times reported in June 1994, “but, for now, the quickened pace is providing hope for the once-moribund housing market. The percentage of listed homes that sold throughout Los Angeles has nearly doubled — from 19 percent to 34 percent — with the bulk of the increase attributable to single-family homes.” However, rising mortgage interest rates threatened to scuttle the recovery. Interest rates on a 30-year mortgage averaged about 8.04 percent in June; by October, they’d hit 9.01 percent, their highest level since 1991.

2014: As the residential real estate market continues to rebound from the housing slump that began in 2008, the market for new inventory remains strong. Several California markets have seen significant inventory growth as the median price of an existing single-family detached home hits $464,750 — the highest since 2007. Nationally, sales of new single-family homes have surged, reaching the highest level in more than six years. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder sentiment has reached its highest level in nine years, reflecting the general optimism surrounding home building. Lower-than-expected mortgage interest rates, hovering around 4.3 percent, have helped fuel the recovery and mitigate the slower pace of job, income and wage growth.

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20th Anniversary: Partners in a Cause: 20 Years of Creating Vibrant Communities

October 30th, 2014

 In 2014 Brandywine Homes celebrates its 20th Anniversary as a homebuilder and developer in Southern California.  Join us this week as we look back at our history over the years.

Over the years, Brandywine Homes has revitalized transitional neighborhoods, brought life back into stagnating city centers and provided much-needed housing to underserved areas in Southern California through its unique ability to work in full partnership with city officials, regulators, investors and contractors. The following are just a handful of the vibrant communities by Brandywine.


Renaissance pool

Renaissance Plaza

The new downtown for the city of Stanton, Renaissance Plaza, is a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly development on 10 acres. Brandywine developed the master plan and designed three integrated home types, seven of them with live/work space with retail frontage on the ground floor. Completed in 2010, the project required consolidation of a patchwork of properties with a dozen different ownerships and 27 leaseholders  — and an extraordinary amount of planning, patience and persistence.

Renaissance Plaza is in a prime commercial location, with high visibility, on Beach Boulevard, which had fallen into disrepair. Retail businesses were either failing, abandoned or inappropriate for a residential neighborhood, and the city of Stanton used redevelopment funds to clean up the area. Existing tenants were relocated, and the city acquired the commercial portion of the property. Brandywine developed and helped the city write a  plan for Renaissance Plaza that transformed a blighted area into a cohesive and moderately priced mix of much-needed new housing.

Century Village - Tiny

Century Village

Located in the heart of Garden Grove, Century Village is a 2.67-acre property designed to attract young professionals and families  to a dynamic urban environment. With 53 spacious three- and four-bedroom townhomes priced from the low $400,000s, the community is close to freeways, award-winning schools and neighborhood events and amenities.

Brandywine worked with the city of Garden Grove to establish a new type of community to meet the needs of extended families with family-friendly floor plans and three-car garages. Located in the heart of the Century Triangle area, Century Village was built on a property that had been abandoned by several developers during the Great Recession. Now a distinguished, walkable community, Century Village has been key to reviving Garden Grove’s urban  core.

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Cardiff Glen

Featuring 26 spacious homes on estate-sized lots on 16 acres in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Cardiff Glen is a coastal enclave bordering protected wetlands on the desirable west side of Interstate 5. The one-of-a-kind community has become a centerpiece of the neighborhood, with rustic stone and rough-hewn timber bridges over Rossini Creek and native trees, shrubs and plants that provide a natural sanctuary for birds and wildlife.

A nursery that dates to 1936 was still active when Brandywine purchased the property.  The entitlement process on the environmentally sensitive property  was complex, involving the California Coastal Commission and nearby homeowners who were initially opposed to the new development. Brandywine worked with government agencies and neighbors, eventually bringing everyone on board through a collaborative process. It took six years from the day the project went into escrow until the day it was closed in 2002.

Covington Rendering Color CROPPED
Covington

Currently under construction, Covington is a 5.1-acre urban infill community with 51 townhomes across from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda.  The approximately 1,750- to 2,100-square-foot townhomes will incorporate craftsman elements into elegant architecture designed to blend with the surrounding neighborhoods. Covington,  which will also include a recreation center, a community meeting room and a pool, is scheduled to be completed by fall 2015.

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Estates Pasadena

Offering the only new, detached single-family homes available in all of Pasadena, Estates Pasadena includes 12 four- and five-bedroom homes built in Cape Cod, Hastings English and French Provincial styles. The approximately 2,900- to 3,500-square-foot homes have family-friendly open floor plans, inviting front porches and authentic brick and stone exteriors and fireplaces. Less than a mile from the Foothill & Rosemead Shopping Center, the community has access to excellent Pasadena schools and is less than 15 miles from Old Pasadena, Paseo Colorado shopping center, Norton Simon Museum, the Santa Anita race track and more.

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Waverly

Waverly, a 2.3-acre community of 19 single-family homes in West Covina, 18 miles east of Los Angeles, offers the first new detached homes to be built in the area for several years. The three- and four-bedroom homes at Waverly, ranging from approximately 2,150 square feet to 2,400 square feet, are a mix of French and Spanish design.  Community amenities include a tot lot and barbecue area. Just down the street from the Westfield Mall, Waverly is close to local schools, the GO WEST bus shuttle and public parks.

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The Orchards

Located on the site of the former Alondra Center  in La Mirada, The Orchards consists of 41 three- and four-bedroom Craftsman-style homes ranging from approximately 1,300 to 2,000 square feet — the first new homes to be built in La Mirada in more than a decade. In a development deal with the city of La Mirada to revitalize the area, Brandywine in 2009 purchased the former strip mall, which was demolished in 2008.The gated community includes six homes for low- to moderate-income buyers at an affordable price.

Cobblestone

Cobblestone is a 34-unit rental community consisting of townhomes and flats on 1.1 acres in Garden Grove, the heart of Orange County. One of four rental developments that Brandywine has opened or is building in Southern California, Cobblestone consists of 12 one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom and  six three-bedroom townhomes and flats ranging from 771 to 1,226 square feet. Just miles from Disneyland and  Knott’s Berry Farm, the community has quick access to the 2 Freeway and Westminster Avenue shopping centers and dining as well as Garden Groves’ award-winning schools.

Waterstone

Waterstone, a 25-unit rental community consisting of two- and three-bedroom townhomes and flats on .887 acres in Garden Grove, takes the edge off of the affordable housing shortage in Orange County. The 900- to 1,360-square-foot homes  are geared toward couples and young families, and the community includes a tot lot and barbecue areas. Waterstone offers convenient access to retail, grocery and dining as well as Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.

Through public/private partnerships with local governments and nonprofit organizations, Brandywine provides market-rate and workforce housing, finding innovative ways to help Southern California cities rebuild for the future. Brandywine communities are often mixed-use and include a variety of home types that appeal to a broad range of homebuyers.

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20th Anniversary: Keeping It Real While Doubling in Size

October 29th, 2014

 In 2014 Brandywine Homes celebrates its 20th Anniversary as a homebuilder and developer in Southern California.  Join us this week as we look back at our history over the years.

 

Brandywine Homes Executives: Dave Barisic, Jim Barisic, Mark Whitehead, Brett Whitehead

Brandywine Homes Executives: Dave Barisic, Jim Barisic, Mark Whitehead, Brett Whitehead

Though Brandywine Homes has more than doubled in size in the past four years, the family company’s close-knit spirit remains.

“We try to keep Brandywine a family business,” founder and Chairman Jim Barisic says. “We don’t treat immediate family members any differently than other people in the company. We all share in the company’s success. We don’t have secrets and we don’t have high employee turnover.”

Jim’s three sons, Brett Whitehead (president and CFO), Mark Whitehead (vice president of operations) and Dave Barisic (vice president of sales and marketing) joined the firm within a few years of its founding, and each brought a different set of talents that helped the company grow into one of Southern California’s preeminent infill builders.

“I never intended to hire Dave, Brett and Mark — but I did so out of necessity,” Jim says.

In the past four years, Brandywine doubled its production as well as its staff and it now employs 19 people. Still, Dave says the company’s core values of cultivating community, long-term partnerships, craftsmanship and service have remained the same. “I don’t think the face of the company has changed over the years,” says Dave. “We’ve just added more faces.”

For Jim, keeping a lean and flexible staff is a key to success. “One of the greatest tools we have is our ability to move quickly,” he says. “We don’t have to follow any fixed plan. We can be very opportunistic. The big guys can’t do that.”

Everyone in the company wears several hats, and Brandywine’s glass-walled offices encourage communication and collaboration. All four of the company principals must agree before taking on any projects or making any major directional changes — another key to the company’s success.

“As a small, closely knit company, we don’t do a shotgun approach,” Brett Whitehead says. “If we make an offer, we’re serious, and that’s helped us a lot. We’re very good at establishing rapport with communities and regulators. They like us and trust us.”

Will Brandywine double again in the next four years? Jim says that’s not likely.

“We’ll continue to grow gradually,” Jim says. “We want to be up to having five properties at any one point in time plus two to three times that number in the hopper. Conservative growth is our style. Steady as you go.”

 

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20th Anniversary: Brandywine Homes Building Homes that Revitalize Communities for 20 Years

October 28th, 2014

 In 2014 Brandywine Homes celebrates its 20th Anniversary as a homebuilder and developer in Southern California.  Join us this week as we look back at our history over the years.

In 1994, Southern California was just beginning to recover from a residential real estate slump, but the housing market was still iffy. Home mortgage interest rates were inching up, and banks were still shy about making construction loans. It was a questionable time, at best, to start a homebuilding company.

Building homes that revitalize communities is what Jim Barisic does best. In the 1980s, he worked on large master-planned communities before he and a partner created a firm that built custom infill homes and small rental projects in southern California. The business boomed until the real estate market crashed as a result of the savings and loan crisis in the late 1980s, and Jim’s business partner decided he’d had enough. With three boys to get through school and no desire to retire from the business he loved, Jim took a plunge. He founded Brandywine Homes, with only a part-time bookkeeper as staff, and built a small subdivision on the banks of Santiago Creek in Orange County.

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With Brandywine, Jim was able to focus on the significant opportunities he saw in providing Southern California’s older, more crowded coastal cities with new homes. He could help rebuild neglected neighborhoods by converting outdated strip malls, parking lots and empty warehouses into much-needed housing. It was a niche few other builders were filling.

The strategy worked. Brandywine grew. In 1998, Jim brought on his son Brett Whitehead, who helped the company develop an impressive network of construction lenders and equity partners. Mark Whitehead, another son, soon came on board as vice president of operations, followed by Jim’s  third son, Dave Barisic, as vice president of sales and marketing. A true family business, Brandywine would become one of Southern California’s preeminent builders.

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It wasn’t always easy. As the real estate industry consolidated over the next two decades, mega-companies began to take control of entire markets, edging out smaller players. Stricter government regulations made the entitlement process for urban infill long and cumbersome. Brandywine saw those changes coming and went with the flow, partnering with larger builders who were entering the urban infill market but  had no experience working with municipalities. Getting land entitled for other builders to put houses on became a good chunk of Brandywine’s business.

The company  excelled at partnering with public agencies to build the next generation of Southern California’s infill neighborhoods. Brandywine was resourceful with land, energy and design,  creating places where homeowners can live close to jobs and extended families. Through strong relationships with financial partners and local government agencies, Brandywine has developed more than 45 small- and mid-sized infill communities — including 4 apartment communities — with almost 1,500 homes in a dozen cities across Southern California.

Brandywine Homes

 

In 2011, Brandywine developed a new brand identity, logo and website that more accurately reflects its reputation as one of Southern California’s most active and successful infill developers and homebuilders. The foundation for its brand is based on the concept of “Building Together for the Next Generation,” a metaphor for rebuilding older cities, providing new home options in established neighborhoods, integrity in partnerships and preserving resources.

The next year, Brandywine was listed as the 9th most active builder in Orange County and among the top five locally based developers.

Key to Brandywine’s success, even through the crippling residential building depression of 2008,  is its relationships with lenders. Because it never left a lender holding the bag, Brandywine was able to get large-scale construction loans and keep building throughout the Great Recession. The company not only survived but turned a profit during the crisis  , building and selling an average of 50 new homes a year.

“That’s my greatest sense of achievement,” Jim says. “We’re still here. We got through it. And we still like each other.”

“Well,” his son Dave jokes, “most of the time.”

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20th Anniversary: Thanks from All of Us at Brandywine Homes! 

October 27th, 2014

 In 2014 Brandywine Homes celebrates its 20th Anniversary as a homebuilder and developer in Southern California.  Join us this week as we look back at our history over the years.

 

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It’s hard to believe that two decades have passed since I founded Brandywine Homes with nothing more than a part-time bookkeeper as staff and one urban infill project on the books.

To be honest, some people thought I was crazy. In 1994, when I started Brandywine, most builders shied away from urban infill and downtown development projects because of the complex and challenging land acquisition and entitlement process. Infill development isn’t easy, and over the past 20 years it has only become more cumbersome. But we’re not slowing down.

Brandywine has grown into the successful company it is today with the help of strong and enduring financial relationships. Even during the worst of the downtimes, our lenders and equity partners have stayed with us because they know we deliver. Partnerships with longtime professionals and investors such as Surender Dewan, Ross and Susan Hammond, Jim Langston, Ron and Mary Michelson, and Jan Nunes have been crucial to our growth and prosperity. We are eternally grateful.

The residential real estate market isn’t what it was in 1994. Companies have consolidated, entitlements are more complicated and buildable land is harder to find. As a company, we’ve had to be nimble and flexible to ride the waves of residential construction — and that has made us even stronger.

We look forward to the next 20 years of building communities that improve lives and lay a strong foundation for the next generation.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to
Brandywine’s success.

James Barisic
Founder and Chairman
Brandywine Homes

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Top Reasons to Consider Purchasing New Housing in Southern California- Edited

October 20th, 2014

When deciding on a home to purchase, you may be torn as to whether you should purchase a used house, or whether new housing would be best for you and your family. Out of the many difficult decisions potential homeowners have to make during the home buying process, deciding whether to buy new or used housing can be one of the toughest decisions these individuals have to make as there are many positive benefits to each option. However, for many people the benefits of new housing outweigh the benefits of old housing. Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should consider purchasing a new home rather than a used one.

Built to Code

One of the most stressful things homeowners encounter is purchasing a used home and then finding out that repairs and retrofits need to be performed in order to make the house safe to live in and up to modern building codes. The fact is that older homes may not have been retrofitted to modern earthquake and electrical standards. These necessary repairs can end up costing you a great deal of money. By purchasing a new home, you can rest assured knowing that your home is a safe place in which to live that has been built with all modern codes in mind. This can save you stress, time, and money in the long run.

More Square Footage

In any given price-range, new homes tend to have more space for the money than older homes. This is generally due to the fact that, until recent years, square footage was not a large concern for home buyers. This is then reflected in the smaller size of older homes. Newly constructed homes generally give you more living space than used homes do.

Modern Conveniences

When purchasing a used home, it is likely that you would not get the modern conveniences that are standard in many new construction homes. Even if the home has new appliances, it may not have been built to accommodate space for modern conveniences such as a dishwasher, a wine cooler, a master bathroom, or an in-home office. Many newly built homes include these modern conveniences in their design giving homeowners the features they want without any need for remodeling.

While some home buyers may prefer the old-world charm of a used home, for many buyers newly constructed homes provide the features and security they are looking for. Contact us to find out more about the benefits of purchasing a newly constructed home as opposed to a used home.

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Council approves Brandywine Homes’ condo development

October 15th, 2014

OC Register NEW

BY ANDERS HOWMANN/ STAFF WRITER

A zoning amendment to build condominiums at Richfield Road and Yorba Linda Boulevard has been unanimously approved by the Yorba Linda City Council.

Brandywine Homes will begin construction on 28 detached condominiums in January, after demolishing three homes on the 3.2-acre property.

Brett Whitehead, Brandywine Homes’ CEO, said the company is in escrow with the three homeowners.

The project has been in the pipeline for more than a year, Senior Planner David Brantley said.

Read More >

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The New Housing Advantage: Defining Your Personal Space

October 13th, 2014

When you choose a reputable Southern California builder for your new construction home, you have the opportunity to select upgrades and optional extras that may instantly increase the value of your home. From a monetary perspective, a new home builder is able to get the best prices by working with local and national suppliers.

From an emotional perspective, new housing is special because no one else has ever lived in your space. Also, you add value to your home by choosing the finishes, appliances, cabinetry and features that are most meaningful to you and your family. According to an article by Burlap & Denim, there are certain builder upgrades that pay when you having a new home built.

Focusing on the kitchen

Most families spend as much time in their kitchens as they do sleeping in bedrooms. According to Burlap & Denim, it pays to have granite countertops installed in your kitchen as a builder upgrade. Granite countertops are easy to clean and increase resale value. Other upgrades include maple cabinets, high-end appliances and stainless steel double sinks. A spacious pantry is also important for resale value.

Bringing in light with skylights

Real estate experts also recommend paying extra for skylights and sola tubes. Burlap & Denim point out adding skylights would be a complicated DIY project after purchasing a home. If a builder offers skylights as an optional extra, let them install them professionally for a lighter and brighter environment. Other features that bring in more light as well as style include garden or bay windows.

Improving the curb appeal

Curb appeal is very important for many homeowners living in Southern California. One way to instantly improve the way your home looks is by spending a little on stone veneer, a tile roof and landscaping. In addition to an architecturally appealing elevation, wood decks and concrete patios add value to a newly-built home.

Of course, when trying to prioritize how you spend your money on a new construction home, don’t neglect technology and energy-efficiency matters. It pays to choose energy monitoring systems and efficient appliances. A new home needs to be pre-wired for television and telephone outlets.

For more information about how we can help you find the perfect new home in Southern California, please contact us.

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New Home Builders in Southern California Can Help Keep Your New House Termite-Free

October 6th, 2014

One important thing on the “we need a new house” checklist is inspections, and the most important inspection is for termites. Of all things that could potentially damage your new house, termites are the most relentless. When new home builders in Southern California work with clients in building a house, one of the things they work on is pretreatment for termites. The builder wants your house to be perfect for you, so he’s going to do all he can to keep it termite-free. Here are a few of the ways he’ll do that.

Bug-Resistant Woods

Termites feed on cellulose. Cellulose is a major ingredient in wood. Some termites use it for housing, while others need it for food. Trees have their own method of protecting themselves from decay and insects. When the tree gets older and taller, cells within it begin to die. These produce chemicals as well as new wood called the heartwood. As the heartwood grows, the ability of the tree to resist insects grows. Some woods are naturally insect-resistant, like cedar and redwood, black cherry and several types of oak. Many tropical woods have the same qualities, but are a bit more expensive such as teak, Brazilian rosewood and Central or South American Mahogany.

One of the facets of these trees is that the older they are, the more resistant they are to insects. There have been documented cases of homes built with these woods that have lasted for almost 200 years with not a bug in sight. Ask your new home builders in Southern California about the age of the wood used in building your new house. Not only are these woods, especially cedar, naturally termite-proof, but they also have natural sound-proofing qualities. That should come in handy when the kids want to crank up the tunes.

Barriers

The use of barriers has been effective in keeping new construction termite-free. Treated wire mesh, treated blocks, insulation and soil have all been used successfully in termite prevention. Chemicals sprayed into the ground before laying the slab of the foundation have also been successful in repelling the bugs. When the property is being prepared for construction, the new home builders in Southern California will work with experts in treating the whole property instead of just the building to prevent termites making a home in the grounds around the house. These are called subterranean termites. When they run out of space, about twice per year they will swarm about in the air searching for a new home. That’s when you don’t want them to see your new house. Treating the grounds as well as the building keeps this from happening.

Other Considerations

Termites love wood mulch as much as the next bug does. They can get into your new house after a meal in the mulch. Make sure you put a barrier between the house and the garden like railroad ties or bricks. Check that the woodpile for the fireplace isn’t close to the foundation or anywhere else the bugs can enter your new house. Stumps and debris from landscaping and building your new house should be removed immediately. Cardboard is made of cellulose. When the new appliances come in, make sure the boxes are hauled off so the termites can’t get lunch and then move into your new house. New home builders in Southern California can give you more advice when you contact us with plans for your new house.

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