Hot Topic: Building New Homes in Richmond, VA

Interview with Vernon McClure from Richmond Times Dispatch, Saturday March 5, 2011.  Vernon McClure is president of Main Street Homes, a company he founded in 1996. He said his goal for the company is to build new homes with “quality and style.”  The company has a 3,700 sqft Design Studio, where new homebuyers can meet with a consultant and browse a variety of products and finishes.

Q: What is your background?  How did you come to own your own building company?

Answer: A lot of people grow up in the business, but I didn’t.  I was born in Richmond, but i grew up on a farm in southwest Virginia.  I studied agriculture and business at Virginia Tech.  After graduation I worked for Southern States for about a year and a half before moving on to Real Estate Sales.  I always like the construction side of the business – I built my first home when I was 25.  I worked for another builder for about nine years, then I started Main Street Homes in 1996, which allows me to balance the construction side with the sales side.

Q: What do you like most about the business of building new homes in Richmond, VA?

Answer: I have a lot of fun working with customers, listening to what their needs are and trying to put that into something on paper and then into a new home they’ll really enjoy.  Our whole goal with my company is to build with quality and value and style.  We’re available to meet with every customer at our showroom.  We hold open houses every Tuesday night in our Design Studio from 5:30pm to 7:30pm during a time customers are off work.  During the open house we can talk to our customers about their goals and needs as well as our neighborhood and house plans. I like to say that while we are a production builder, we’re a custom production builder and we’ve been successful.  But our success is due to our customers because without them we wouldn’t have any sales.  So the best part for me is listening to people.

Q: How’s business this year?  What does 2011 look like?

Answer: Well of course, I can only speak to what i see in my part of the market.  Our new home sales were up in 2011 more than 40% over 2009.  New home sales so far in 2011 are surpassing 2010 new home sales. We’re seeing a huge upswing of customer interest and confidence, which is what went away in 2008.  I saw last year as the year for the first-time homebuyers, people looking for more affordable homes.  This year I’ve seen larger homes back in the market, people buying their second or third home.  There’s a real value that I think people are recognizing.  New homes today are the most affordable they’ve been in 50 years, in terms of the amount of home you can buy for your money.  When I got into the business, rates were 12 percent and now they’re around 5 percent.  So I think this is the year you’ll really see  sales rebound.

Q: That’s terrific news.  Can we close with a note about craft? What would you say makes a home well-crafted?

Answer: What a lot of people maybe don’t realize is that the quality of new homes today, even compared to five years ago, is much higher.  insulation and other products ar better.  The braces in the walls are stronger and stiffer nowadays.  But I like to look for the small details – for instance, we include real wood trim around our windows.  Little touches like that.


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