In 1992, when Chris Kemmerly opened Miramonte Homes in the Tucson market, his fellow homebuilders were also neighbors and members of the same clubs.
Now that the market is dominated by national homebuilders, Kemmerly says he can’t keep track of their local contacts because they constantly change.
“For an old guy like me, it’s sad because it’s dominated by the nationals and there is not much familiarity with Tucson and no continuity,” he says. “All the local guys always gave back to the community; now the profits go to where the CEO lives.”
Miramonte Homes, with annual revenue of $43 million, is one the larger local homebuilders in the Tucson market. The challenges to staying on top are mainly financial, Kemmerly says.
“We don’t have access to public money,” he says. “They derive their money from stock. I have to secure the loans personally; I have to put my name on the line.”
Staying competitive means finding a niche. For Kemmerly, that’s been infill.
“I’m a huge proponent of infill in Tucson,” he says. “It’s a huge win-win, because the infrastructure is already there, and we’re taking empty lots and developing them.”
He points to the new 34-home community on Glenn Avenue, between Park and Mountain avenues — which was previously four abandoned homes — as an example.
That particular community is geared toward millennials, with open floor plans, lots of windows and outdoor entertaining space.
“I have been doing land deals with Chris for over a decade, and he is always forward-thinking,” said Will White, a broker with Land Advisors Organization. “He adapts to the market as it has changed, and has been able to take advantage of some great opportunities.
“It has been a challenging era for private homebuilders, but Chris has done a nice job of successfully navigating it, and I expect that will continue for some time.”
All together, Miramonte has nine communities in the Tucson area, plus two rental communities in Tucson and one in Sierra Vista.
The company has also now entered the Flagstaff market.
“They actually welcomed us and want to have us up there,” Kemmerly says. “It’s a small market that literally wants to see new homes built.”
His foray into the northern market is no way an indication that he’s giving up on Tucson.
“We’ve always been committed to Tucson,” the University of Arizona graduate says. “We all give back with our time and money.
“I’m not going anywhere. I love Tucson.”