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National Recognition | By Nathan Walls


Hard work and the much better than average local economy have placed two Fayetteville homebuilders among the nation’s best in their industry. H&H Homes and Caviness & Cates Communities were recognized this summer in Builder Magazine’s top 100 list for number of home closings completed in 2009. It’s nothing new for the companies, as both builders made the list last year, too. But it’s definitely a unique occurrence for businesses that compete against powerhouse companies in larger markets. H&H Homes was ranked 56th with 455 closings and Caviness & Cates completed 386 closings for 68th place. H&H Saw Largest Increase To make the milestone even sweeter, H&H saw an increase in closings of 51 percent, which was the highest in the country. “It’s humbling to compete and get recognition on a national level,” said Greg West, chief of staff at H&H Homes. “It’s because of some great employees and great customers.” Ralph and Linda Huff are the owners of H&H Homes, which has been in business for 19 years. Ralph Huff also owns Coldwell Banker Advantage, the leading real estate brokerage company in the Fayetteville market. The company has helped sell a majority of H&H’s houses, but Fayetteville’s other real estate companies have taken notice of the builder’s products, also. “They realize that we build a quality product at a quality price for their customers,” West said. “Our two markets are Fayetteville and Jacksonville, near Camp Lejeune, so that was part of the formula for the success,” West said, noting that the two predominantly military communities have stable economies. Another part of the equation is the presence of quality homes in H&H neighborhoods, including Westgate in Hoke County, Anderson Creek Club in Harnett County, Lexington Plantation in Harnett County, Castlefield at Millstone in Hope Mills and Patriot Park on Andrews Road in Fayetteville. H&H builds the American Dream collection, their most successful line, complete with eight floor plans to choose from. Homebuyers can live the dream by purchasing the 2,700 to 3,500 square feet homes. “They are big houses that meet the needs of today’s families,” West said. “They are a value product. They have been built and engineered such that we can offer them for as little as $70 a square foot when a lot of markets are at $100 a square foot.” West said the houses’ strong points are their curb appeal, craftsman elements on the exterior and Energy Star certified appliances and other components. With more troops and federal employees coming to the Fayetteville market because of BRAC, (Base Realignment and Closure) West thinks H&H Homes will continue to be highly successful. “It’s going to help sustain a strong market for two more years,” he said. “We’re cautiously optimistic that it will be a healthy market beyond 2012.” Caviness & Cates Finds Its Niche Chris Cates, a co-owner of Caviness & Cates Communities along with Watson Caviness, was in awe of making the Builder 100 list for two straight years. “It’s exciting and proves that the market is growing,” Cates said. The military-led economy in Fayetteville has driven the numbers, according to Cates. “There’s definitely been a decline in volume from the other builders in your more conventional markets and we have seen an increase,” he said. “Our two biggest markets are Fayetteville and Jacksonville and they have been a huge part of the reason.” Overhauling their products to entry level and big box value lines has also benefited Caviness & Cates. “A lot more of our communities and house plans now are strategically placed to where we can compete with the resales,” Cates said. “We’re also doing a lot of value building, which is offering a large amount of square feet for a low dollar per square foot amount.” Entry level homes with open floor plans have been appealing to customers, Cates said. “We do it based on entry level, just trying to offer a home that people can afford,” he said. “People once had to buy resales because there was no new construction at that price. Now we can offer a product that people can have. That gives them a new home with new warranties, its Energy Star rated and we can produce it at a low dollar per square foot.” Energy Star ratings are a tremendous plus for Caviness & Cates homes, producing homes that are approximately 30 percent more efficient than five years ago, Cates said. Other elements have made the homes attractive. “Most of the homes have vinyl siding, which is very low-maintenance” Cates said. “We try to put hardly any wood on the exterior so customers don’t have to maintain that.” In business since 1999, Caviness & Cates is appreciative of its customers, many of them active duty military, and gives back to the community through the Homefront Project and other military charities. “We’re very blessed to be in Fayetteville and we feel a need to give back to the community, because it is the reason we are in the top 100,” Cates said. “There’s no doubt.” To view H&H Homes and Caviness & Cates Communities’ listings for the last two years, log onto: http://www.builderonline.com/business/builder-100/.