Modern Home Builder Magazine Article

MODERN HOME BUILDER 

Southgate Homes delivers high-quality boutique homebuilding services to the Dallas market.

By Chris Petersen

As the housing market continues to rebound from the effects of the recession several years ago, construction activity has increased year by year. However, what Southgate Homes President and co-founder Jay Hankla has seen is that although activity is increasing, builders are holding back in terms of the quality of the homes they build, cutting corners even in the high-end segment of the market. As veteran of the homebuilding market for more than 20 years, Hankla founded Southgate Homes a few years ago specifically to push against this trend and bring high-quality construction back to the high-end custom home market in and around the Dallas market. “We saw a need to do more for a higher-price-range market,” Hankla says.

Today, thanks to the support of its parent company, Green Brick Partners, Southgate Homes has grown into one of the Dallas market’s up-and-coming custom home builders. Hankla says the company has found success by taking on the needs of the area’s high-end customer base and delivering the highest-quality homes possible. With its emphasis on creating a highly collaborative experience for its customers, Southgate Homes has positioned itself to remain a fixture in the Dallas area for a long time.

Hankla acknowledges that getting any homebuilding company off the ground requires a lot of capital, and he says the connection he made with developer Green Brick Partners was crucial in helping Southgate Homes establish itself. That only became possible because he and Green Brick Partners shared the same philosophy about serving the high-end segment of the marketplace. “We had a shared vision,” Hankla says.

Hankla describes the company’s primary customer base as one that is sophisticated and upwardly mobile from a socioeconomic standpoint. That means they are looking for a homebuilder who can offer them more than the standard cookie-cutter approach most builders have, and Southgate Homes stands apart from those builders in a big way. “We offer more of a boutique experience,” Hankla says.

Not only is Southgate Homes flexible with the standard floor plans it has in its portfolio to meet customers’ specific requests, but it also will design a custom home entirely from scratch if a customer requests it. As customers go through the homebuilding process with Southgate Homes, they are tended to every step of the way by the company’s staff. In many cases, Hankla says, the company’s entire staff gets involved on a project and is available at any time for customers if they have questions or concerns. “Our people are more involved in the process along the way, from our salespeople to myself,” Hankla says. “You get to shake the hand of the people who are working with you.”

Even when working with standard floor plans, Southgate Homes’ attention to detail results in a unique home every time. Hankla says the company doesn’t start with a base elevation and make small changes to make it fit into a certain look. Each home’s elevation is designed from scratch to ensure that customers get the precise look they want and neighborhoods built by Southgate Homes don’t have that one-size-fits-all feel to them. Hankla says such details are offered to customers as part of their new home’s plan, not a la carte. “When we come up with the vision of a plan, the plan is built as drawn,” he says. “It makes our neighborhoods look more upscale.”

In addition to the company’s more modern, cleaner architectural style, Southgate Homes’ collaborative building process means customers end up with a finished home that represents their ideal of the perfect house. “Instead of buying a suit off the rack, it’s like buying a tailored suit,” Hankla says.

Although land has become more difficult to find in recent years as construction activity ramps up, Hankla says Southgate Homes has the financial strength through Green Brick Partners to find opportunities that are out of the grasp of other builders. As such, Hankla says the company sees a lot of potential for growth, but that growth will have to be managed carefully for the company to maintain its success. “I see us growing intelligently with the goal being not just growth,” he says. “We want to be a great place to work, we want to provide a great product and we want to maintain our culture.

“When it becomes too calculated, un-fun and stressful, it shows in your sales process,” Hankla adds.