He had a high-powered job at a highpowered multibillion-dollar company. And quit. In the year or so since Randy Bury resigned as president of the Las Vegas division of Pulte Homes, he’s assembled a crack team of construction and finance executives and set up his own privately held shop, Randall Martin Home.
"Obviously, I decided to do this before I quit. I just didn’t feel like I could fit there anymore," Bury said, sitting in his Scottsdale office, with his dog, Scout, at his feet.
After acquiring capital, identifying locales and buying land across the Valley, Bury’s team is just now settling into an office at DC Ranch.
But that’s been among the last items on Bury’s punch list.
"I’m kind of a Type-A individual. It never happens fast enough. But it’s only been 14 or 15 months and we’ve done a lot," Bury said.
By this fall, the company will have seven communities under development across the Valley, including Chandler and Gilbert. Among those is a 162-lot Chandler development tentatively called The Villages at Dobson Crossing.
The project will feature homes ranging from 1,700 to 2,700 square feet and sits at the intersection of Arizona Avenue and Queen Creek Road east of the Ocotillo community.
"We should start selling houses and have our model homes open by the end of this year," Bury said.
The company is also working on a 300-lot development at the northeast corner of Ray and Higley roads in Gilbert near the Santan Freeway stretch of Loop 202.
Meanwhile, the firm is unveiling two neighborhoods in the Marley Park development in Surprise this week.
Bury said his company isn’t competing with firms like Pulte, but is specializing in mid- to high-end communities with smaller lots in more urban locales.
"Not everybody is our buyer. We don’t have to sell 10,000 homes," Bury said.
Bury said the firm’s focus is on intelligent design, good use of space, natural materials and "base" models that don’t require a lot of upgrades.
"We’ve got a great little niche that we’re going to fill," Bury said.
Jay Butler, director of the Arizona Real Estate Center at Arizona State University’s East campus, agreed.
With large builders seeking great swaths of land, smaller land parcels have been "jumped over" and that is offering opportunities for others, Butler said.
"Frequently smaller homebuilders pick up infill lots because they are available. Big builders may find them uneconomical to build on," Butler said.
Although they may not be direct competitors, Butler said small homebuilders answer the challenge of entering an industry dominated by powerhouse firms with creativity and options.
"How do I get somebody to come and look at my homes? Do something different. And that’s what they’re doing," Butler said. "Usually where you’re going to see the difference is the style, the design, an exterior porch, an offside garage, the use of interior space."
Such things often work to a smaller firm’s advantage, Butler said, and cited a Valley homebuilder that built homes in the Victorian style in the early 80s that "attracted a lot of attention in a very down market."
These days, however, the Valley’s real estate market is anything but down.
As some analysts discuss whether there’s a bubble in the nation’s housing market and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admits "froth" in some regions of the country, Bury said the Valley is markedly different than others and remains undervalued.
"The Phoenix market compared to the Western U.S. is still very affordable. I’ve bought land and done deals in every major market in the West," Bury said. "I just don’t believe that there’s a bubble here."
An indication of Bury’s confidence is the amount of capital he and his partners have assembled. Bury, who said he’s "all in", hinted it’s in the millions, but wouldn’t reveal a dollar amount. And with that kind of backing, Bury said he’s ready to move forward.
"It’s been a year since I’ve had a paycheck. I kind of want one," Bury said.