Builder plans to build housing estate with a twist

A Manhattan-based homebuilder has devised a business model that deviates from a traditional method of operation in the homebuilding industry. Instead of buying a large parcel of land, subdividing it, installing infrastructure, and then building model homes and other units on speculation, Welcome Homes allows the owner to purchase the land in a subdivision at a third party, then offers a custom product built around the existing home. plans accompanied by a variety of possible custom design elements. Additionally, the company encourages buyers to use the Internet.

Rendering of the Welcome Homes Oaisis model.

Welcome Homes was created by five co-founders: Alec Hartman; Ben Uretsky; Mitch Wainer; Marc Hartman and Jesse Mauro.

The company entered the Westchester market by planning the construction of a 13-lot, 3.2-acre subdivision in North Westchester. Welcome Homes does not own the land. Rather, the subdivision was created from the former Fieldstone Manor-Mohegan Mansion property on Strawberry Road in Mohegan Lake by owner Bill Catucci. The Fieldstone property comprises approximately 23 acres and a grouped development has been approved for part of the property.

The company launched in October 2020 with $5.35 million in seed funding led by Global Founders Capital. It billed itself as the first completely online home building, customizing and buying experience, cutting the time it takes to build and move into a dream home by 50% to six months.

Rendering of the Welcome Homes living room.
Rendering of the Welcome Homes living room.

“People are desperately looking for new homes, but there’s no solution on the market that puts that within reach, so they’re making do with existing inventory on the market,” Alec Hartman told the era.

Hartman said he was frustrated with the home buying process when he and his wife wanted to move their baby from Manhattan to Long Island. He said that when a real estate broker told him that every buyer has to compromise, he wondered why he couldn’t just go online and click a few buttons and have a house built that would give him what he wanted. really wanted.

A marketing partnership has been created between Welcome Homes, Catucci and real estate broker Cathy Duff-Poritzky of Compass real estate brokerage offices in Yorktown Heights and Chappaqua. The buyers would work with Duff-Poritzky to purchase land in Catucci on which they could have their new homes built by Welcome Homes. The Welcome Homes website has a section describing the lots available in the Mohegan Lake subdivision as well as many other lots available in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Additionally, Welcome Homes offers to build on any suitable land a potential homeowner has. The website also has pages that cover topics such as financing and home design.

Welcome Homes kitchen rendering.
Welcome Homes kitchen rendering.

Benjie Burford, vice president of sales at Welcome Homes, told the Business Journal: “New builds are really out of reach for most first-time buyers and many repeat buyers because not only is the cost higher in some cases , but it is also a greater cost in time; you spend a lot more time if you do the construction. By not having a land inventory, we can focus on making up the value of our homes and really focus on the buyer. »

Burford said he knew Duff-Poritzky from having once worked at Compass.

“Cathy has actually represented some of our buyers who are actually buying our model home and building in the Westchester County area,” Burford said.

“I’ve been doing this for 34 years and have represented many other builders in Westchester,” Duff-Poritzky said. “We only started marketing this a week or two before Christmas. It’s very hard to find new build anywhere, let alone Westchester, under $1 million and we offer that, so I think we’re very competitive. We start at around $900,000. It comes with such a comprehensive package that you don’t really have to get bogged down in too many upgrades.

On its website, Welcome Homes lists the Oasis 4 designer home at $550,000 excluding land costs. The 2,970 square foot home features four bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Burford pointed out that many people are used to towing homes in new construction where what he called “builder-grade” materials are used.

“Often in a spec home, builders can’t take the inventory or spend all the money they need to make it with high-quality materials,” Burford said. “We have hardwood floors, solid doors throughout the house, custom cabinetry. In one model, we start with Bosch appliances. In another model, we start with GE Profile, so we’re still on the higher end that you wouldn’t normally get in this type of home or this type of price point.

Burford said Welcome Homes has built freestanding homes in Hudson Valley communities including Cold Springs, Woodstock and Pleasantville, and potential buyers are looking for land in Beacon, Greenwich, Rye and New Rochelle.

“We can go and do single-family homes, but we’ve always wanted to do a subdivision approach like this and it was the perfect fit because we know people are looking in the area,” Burford said. “It was a natural evolution for us.”

Duff-Poritzky said new construction represents a relatively small portion of its sales activity because it’s a relatively small portion of the overall housing stock.

“I’m excited about the whole subdivision here and I think even though it’s a relatively new concept, it’s spreading pretty quickly,” Duff-Poritzky said. “I have someone at the moment who contacted us through the Fieldstone Manor project and they are considering a property in Armonk because that property is a little better suited to their travel needs but they still want Welcome Homes to build on the.”

Duff-Poritzky said she understands that for Westchester it will take about six years for housing supply to catch up with housing demand.

“When we build a house, we always see multiple offers,” Duff-Ppritzky said. “January was a very quiet month in our business; he has always been busy. A house comes on the market, there is a huge demand.

Burford characterizes the market as being on fire.

“A lot of our demand is in Westchester,” Burford said. “As a startup, I’m impressed with the demand we have.”

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