With affordability being the buzz word in North Texas housing circles these days, the Dallas Business Journal sat down with Don Huffines, co-owner of Huffines Communities, to ask him what’s driving the prices up.
Huffines Communities is one of the largest land development companies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The company’s focus over the last two decades has increasingly shifted to large, master-planned communities with 1,500 to 5,000 houses and a focus on first-time and first move-up buyers.
In the Q&A that follows, Huffines discusses affordability, the company’s history, and a wide range of hot-button topics:
What’s the background of Huffines Communities?
We do land development. We’re going to be celebrating our 35th company anniversary next year. We started this company in 1985. I’ve always had an affinity for land and land development and graduated from UT in Austin in 1981. I have a finance degree and I worked for Henry S. Miller for three years — 1981 to 1984. I started this company in 1985 with my twin brother, Phillip. I’ve seen a lot of cycles. I saw the big one in the ‘80s. That’s really where our paradigm that we operate under came from. That and the last one.
How does that paradigm shape your strategy?
We’ve seen a lot of people come and go in the business and we’ve been very fortunate to stay in the business. We love land development. We do land development and apartment development primarily. We’ve built everything. I built retail, I built this office building. But primarily we focused on land development. I think we’re very conservative in our investment philosophy. We don’t like taking on a lot of debt. It’s a cyclical business and tomorrow might not be better than today.
How has Huffines Communities evolved?
Over the last decade or two, we’ve shifted more to masterplanned communities, which we define as a large project with 1,500 to 5,000 houses in the community. They’re highly amenitized with a sense of place, a sense of marketing, and in a Huffines Community we have a brand on that. We call it a Signature Community, meaning the consumer is going to receive a lot of value in living there and have a real pride of ownership in living in that community. We have program directors, a lot of activities, and a nice amenity package, and we deal with builders across the spectrum in the DFW area.