Meritage Makes Itself at Home in Atlanta

Meritage Homes Corp. is coming to Atlanta. The veteran home building firm has opened a South Region division that will be based in Atlanta. The move is an exciting one for the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Mertiage, which is America’s ninth-largest home builder. The South Region will serve the Atlanta, Nashville, and Greenville-Spartanburg markets, with plans to expand as the division gains footing. Meritage currently has three other divisions: Wet, Central, and North.

The move follows on the heels of Meritage’s decision to acquire the Douglasville, Georgia-based Legendary Communities for nearly $130 million. Legendary has built more tan 80,000 homes in the last 28 years, and during 2013, the company generated over $156 million in revenue from the sales of 500 homes. Given the stalled development pipeline that is currently strangling the otherwise keen American housing market, Meritage was especially attracted to Legendary’s inventory of 4,000 ready-to-build home sites.

The single-family housing market in Atlanta is the second-largest and fastest-growing in America. Projections indicate that the Greenville-Spartanburg single-family housing market will grow about 20% from now through 2015.

Steven Hilton, CEO of Meritage Homes, says the company plans to focus intensely on building the South Region division. “We are going to be putting more capital into Atlanta, we are buying this as a five parameter growth, starting point to ending point,” Hilton said, adding, “I’m just bullish about Atlanta.”

Meritage plans to build 1,000 homes in metro Atlanta sites between 2014-2017. This would seem to put them in stiff competition with PulteGroup and D. R. Horton, two other home building giants with major development plans in Atlanta. Hilton isn’t terribly concerned with the competition, he says, “Horton can get theirs and we can get ours and I think we can both do really well.”

To solidify Meritage’s business strategy, the company hired James Thrower as president of the South Region division, bringing 25 years of experience in home building and real estate in Georgia and the Carolinas. Of the company’s decision to hire thrower, Hilton says that “we are excited to have Jay join us to lead and grow our new South Region. Jay brings a wealth of experience in this region and an impressive record of accomplishments in such areas as land acquisition and development, product design and development, sales, construction, finance, purchasing, estimating, marketing, operations, and management. He will be a valuable addition to our organization and help us continue to expand and diversify our geographic footprint.”

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