Tim Lewis Communities
Being able to strike when the iron is hot is a valuable skill, and it was one Tim Lewis practiced when he snapped up choice locations in both Sacramento and the Bay area in Northern California and in Reno, Nev., during the recent recession. “We have some great ‘A’ location sites,” President and owner Lewis says. “I bought most of them in the downturn, so these were purchased from late 2008 to 2011. We were very strategic in that we bought near the bottom and expanded into highly desirable markets. By opening in new markets, we are less dependent on just one region, and geographic diversity reduces overall market risk.
“Our company focuses on locations that have outstanding schools and are convenient to both shopping and recreational activities,” Lewis adds. “We’re trying to stay in core markets as opposed to building in outlying areas. The ‘A’ sites are getting tougher and tougher to find.”
Tim Lewis Communities and its affiliates have been engaged in land development and building homes in Northern California for more than three decades, and now have developments in the Sacramento region, the Bay area, and Reno and Sparks, Nev. The company and its sister companies build lots for their own use as well as to sell to other builders. “Most of the communities in which we build are move-up projects,” Lewis says. “Our new communities feature higher quality, highly amenitized homes, a refreshing change from the typical ‘big box’ that dominates these competitive markets.
“For each new project in a given submarket, we conduct an internal or external buyer demographic and lifestyle preference survey,” Lewis says. “Based on the survey results, we undergo an intensive, collaborative design process. We strive for cutting-edge architectural design that best fits each site yet conforms to the flavor of the surrounding community. In the end, I believe what sets us apart is that we build a home that reflects our careful attention to the smallest detail.
“We put a little more effort into designing a quality home in terms of the overall features, as well as the layouts and the front elevations,” Lewis declares. “At our Crowne Point development in Rocklin, Calif., (located in the Sacramento region) we spent a lot of time on the entrance to that community – the artisan gates and transplanted mature olive trees transform the landscaping into a prestigious environment that makes a lifestyle statement – making that community feel as if it conforms to the land it is being built on, and I believe that’s the difference.
“Many of our newest communities have added benefits, such as extra-large homesites (up to 1 to 2 acres), spectacular views of nature preserves, mountains or city lights below, and all are located in sought-after school districts,” Lewis continues. “Our project in Sparks has spectacular views of the mountains or valley below and features 18,000-square-foot home sites. In Rocklin, a gated Tim Lewis community is in a highly desirable school district and has a large amount of open space and a small lake on the property.”
Consumer trends vary in the different markets in which Tim Lewis Communities operates. “In some markets, we have a lot of baby boomers, and the trend of buyers in those markets is to covet single-story homes,” Lewis reports. “Because there is no state income tax in Nevada, both retirees and business owners are moving their businesses there and buying in Tim Lewis’ new home communities. In Nevada, buyers want single-story, three to four-car garages and even five-car garages, In Sacramento, we’re seeing some of that as well.”
Because of the high real estate prices in the San Francisco Bay area, single-story homes are harder to build in San Jose, which is in the Silicon Valley. “You might pay $5 million for an acre of property in the Bay for residential,” Lewis declares. “The high cost of land and prolonged, extremely difficult entitlement processes drive home prices ever higher.”
Requirements for home technology are higher in Silicon Valley because of the area’s technology companies. “Buyers there are tech-savvy, so they are going to demand all the latest in home technology,” Lewis observes. “Technology is always evolving, and with our building partners’ expertise, we continually incorporate the latest innovations into our options program. Structured wiring, Wi-Fi and Smart-home technology are popular options, to name a few.”
As a certified California Green Builder, Tim Lewis Communities offers solar-ready homes, environmentally sound architecture, upgraded insulation, tankless water heaters and energy-efficient insulation, windows, roofs and appliances. Photovoltaic solar collectors are installed as an option in different areas on roofs depending on the building’s orientation toward the sun, and the energy is sold back to the electrical grid.
Solar energy is becoming popular for many homebuyers. “Particularly in California, we have become very focused on reducing our carbon footprint,” Lewis maintains. ”It is the right thing to do for our environment. Many buyers today are not only interested in being environmentally conscious, but take a sense of pride in displaying their solar panels.”