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Q&A of the Week


Brett Whitehead
Brandywine Homes

Brett Whitehead has been with Brandywine Homes for 12 years, first serving as chief financial officer and, more recently, as president. As president, Mr. Whitehead oversees many areas including land acquisition, entitlements, forward planning and finance. During his tenure at Brandywine, he has been an integral part of the acquisition and planning of over 25 developments and almost 800 residential units.

Peninsula Publishing: Brandywine Homes was last featured in our June 2010 issue of Builder and Developer magazine. What has changed since then?
Brett Whitehead: Since that time, we have seen an improvement in the job market in our primary market area. We have also experienced an increase in competition for sites as builders begin to focus on areas with job growth.

PP: You have a few communities opening soon. Are you seeing the industry pick up?
BW: There seems to be a lot of optimism out there. Consumer confidence has risen, but it has yet to translate into better pricing, traffic or higher sales. We do anticipate an improvement in the new-home market during the third and fourth quarters of this year.

PP: How are you positioning the company for 2011?
BW: Our company has four new communities under construction in anticipation of a better 2011.

PP: What’s your forecast for the upcoming year?
BW: We continue to anticipate a stair-step recovery where some months feel like a recovery and other months feel flat or even like a step backward. Prices will remain flat as we continue to burn off inventory and see new projects coming online, and the public builders will continue to bid up land.

PP: Any advice for other builders?
BW: Be cautious, be patient and know your market. Caution will pay off in the long run as we are on our way to recovery but still have a ways to go. Be patient as land continues to be tied up and prices re-traded, resulting in cancellation of escrows, which opens the door for new pricing for private builders. Lastly, know your market. There are many submarkets in the primary markets, which give the local private developer an advantage as long as he / she understands how the community should be positioned. By positioned, I mean who is the buyer, what product type do they want, what square footage makes sense and what price points are selling. If you understand the local buyer, builders can develop and sell homes in today’s market.