Hallmark Communities emphasizes building the highest-quality homes at the best value the company can offer.
By Bianca Herron
Hallmark Communities, a third-generation family homebuilder, was founded in 1984 by a father and son duo. For the past 33 years, the Solana Beach, Calif.-based company has built, designed and constructed homes that reflect its commitment to exceptional value and customer service, President Chris Hall says.
“My grandfather, Raymond Hall, was a civil engineer and my dad, Michael Hall, was a commercial broker,” Hall says. “Their first homebuilding project was in El Cajon, Calif., and since then we have grown the company from just a couple employees to where it is today. It feels good to work in the family business and be successful. It’s definitely a source of pride, not only for myself, but also for our entire family.”
When Hallmark began, it prioritized first-time buyer product. However, today, with land being scarce, Hall says the company focuses on all opportunities. “It does not matter if it’s a first-time homebuyer or higher end product – we have to go where the land takes us these days,” he says. “California in general, but more specifically San Diego, is not producing enough housing to meet the demands of a growing population. That’s a major threat to our industry – the high cost of living and high price of housing.
“Our company is trying as best as we can to help alleviate that housing issue and work with our city officials to get more housing units built,” he continues. “Typically it takes anywhere from three to 10 years to go from conceptual design to permit. If we could streamline that entitlement process we can produce housing at a much lower cost, which helps us deliver more homes to a market that is desperately asking for and needs it. It’s a simple solution that’s not related to dollars and cents, but to time and streamlining the process.”
When it comes to customers, Hallmark is involved in the homebuilding process from the beginning to the end. “We’re involved in everything from A to Z, including taking raw land to entitlements, homebuilding and home selling, all of which we do in-house,” Hall says.
Another thing that sets Hallmark apart from competitors is that the company takes on difficult developments. “The efforts of Sean Santa Cruz, our vice president of planning and development – specifically with getting us through the hard entitlements that are present in the state of California and San Diego – is definitely a strength of our company,” Hall notes.
Though many companies define quality differently, Hallmark defines it as a value and believes customers feel the same way. “Our customers get more for their money with a Hallmark home,” he explains. “Every decision that we make is with the intent of producing the highest-quality homes at the highest and best value that we can. What that means to our individual customers is different based on the product that they are buying.”
Along with delivering value, maintaining clear communication is something that Hallmark also strives to provide customers. “A lot of communication comes through our website and an open door policy between our employees and customers,” Hall says. “We try to be as accommodating as we can. Whether it’s our field or office staff, they understand that if a customer approaches them it’s their job to answer whatever questions or concerns they have to the best of their ability. If they don’t have an answer for them, it’s also their job to find one for them. We try to not have staff pass customers along to the next person, but solve their issue proactively. We believe that goes a long way in our company.”
Hall adds that because Hallmark is not a “highly structured” company, all employees have the freedom to make the best decision for any situation they face. “We like to give our employees a little bit of freedom in that regard to act on the best behalf of the company,” he explains. “I have the utmost confidence that all of our employees can do that.”
One of Hallmark’s latest projects is 1125 South, a multifamily condo development in Oceanside, Calif. “It’s a 15-unit project and has been well received by the city and the neighborhood,” Hall says. “We recently started construction and expect to have it finished by the end of the year.”
The biggest selling point for the project is its rooftop decks with ocean views, notes Cruz. “For the three-story townhomes, we are using more upgraded windows for sound attenuation, PVC membrane roofing material, and the decking material – Pli-Dek – a 1-hour, Class “A” Fire rated waterproof deck coating that offers high durability and low maintenance to help prevent water intrusion and leaks,” he says.
In addition, because the state of California’s Title 24 construction building code, Hall notes the company builds extremely energy-efficient homes. “Some of the features, materials and equipment that will be installed in the project will help to reduce energy and water usage from the lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation and water heating of each home.”
Ultimately, Hall says he’s most proud that the company has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. “That was something instilled by my grandfather to my father who then passed it along to me,” he says. “So that means we’re opportunistic and do not put ourselves in a specific box. In the same regard, whatever is thrown at us we have the ability to be flexible and solve any issue at hand. I am very proud to be part of a vibrant, growing company in a very challenging market like San Diego. With that said, we have been around for 33 years and have plans to keep the company around even longer.”