Construction May 2015 Past Issues

Element Residential – The Utopian Community Builders

Element Residential has unprecedented eye for the full living experience

It has been said that a recession can be a great time to grow a business, as you have the opportunity to be innovative. Element Residential is a fantastic example of this concept put into practice.

In 2005, the company started purchasing properties in Snohomish County then reselling these plots to other builders. They found these properties in the most straightforward way possible: Knocking on people’s doors and inquiring whether they were interested in selling their houses.

Unfortunately, when the downturn started in 2007, they found themselves faced with a major problem: a large percentage of their buyers, the builders, were now in danger of going under or weren’t interested in buying new lots. This new reality meant that Element Residential were unable to resell their properties.

“[It was] a stressful time, but we had to get creative and find ways to get out of it,” Joshua Freed, president of the company, explains.

Instead of simply declaring defeat and folding the company, Element Residential started building homes on the lots themselves. This would prove to be an excellent move on their part, as the act of cutting out the middleman and going directly to the home buyers was incredibly successful and allowed them to pay off their bank loans.

Plus, as a result of the downturn, many properties were going into foreclosure. Element Residential and its investors were now able to purchase properties through these channels, then move forward and build the new homes.

“So we were able to build out of the downturn basically and grow a business through a difficult time when three-quarters of the other builders were completely out of business and bankrupt or whatever else may have happened,” Freed says.
That is not to say that they faced zero challenges during the downturn, but the full Element Residential team—including both the company employees and the trade partners—proved to be a rock solid partnership through this period, which allowed the company to grow and prosper.

One reason for this consistently sound partnership is the simple fact that Element Residential and the trade partners with whom they collaborate have always been working towards the same vision. In fact, every year they have a trade meeting, bringing the workers all together to ensure that everyone is on the same page. What does this mean? People purchasing these properties can rest assured knowing that everyone working on their homes are working as a part of a unified team for the benefit of the buyer.

Plus, the company is specifically set up to be incredibly collaborative, which means the loss of a member of the team doesn’t mean the project is in danger. This was a purposeful decision, as, as Freed explains, “If I relied on one person too much for purchasing and then we lose them for one reason, the others are left in a vulnerable position. So it’s creating a more solid management structure.” This unified strength is part of what has allowed Element Residential to gain the trust of investors and move the company forward.

Another reason Element Residential has thrived is because they found the right area of the market. Many of their major competitors–the large national companies—specifically target first-time buyers, “building a box and delivering it at a very affordable rate to buyers.” While Element Residential has at times catered to this segment of the market, their success came when they instead focused on the higher-end homes and played to the specific needs of these buyers.

“We had to find our niche. […] And building at the higher end and focusing more on the local builder customer service type thing is how we found our niche.”

In this case, Element Residential were now dealing with customers with a larger cash flow who were willing to pay for fancy upgrades to make their houses “unique.” For example, they found that the buyers in King County, which is right by Microsoft, “like the cool thermostats and wired-up homes.” Because of customers like these, all Element Residential homes now feature thermostats that are connected to your iPhone.

Yet special home upgrades are not the only way this company is embracing technology and the changing needs of the market. As well, Element Residential had to become more tech-savvy when interacting with their clients.

Future home-owners can now go online and choose options or any upgrades that they want added to the house. Not only that, they can see how production is moving along, then share updates on their social media accounts. This easy, technology-driven access is yet another way that Element Residential is catering itself to a modern buyer.
Once they take possession of the homes, owners will find houses that have been created to stand out from the quick-build cookie-cutter nature of typical suburbia. Element Residential homes are bright and airy and feature designer touches throughout. As an added bonus, these developments have also been designed to make your experience outside of the house exceptional. The Woods at Mill Creek, for example, gives owners easy access to both the Mill Creek Town Center and the North Creek Greenway, while Suncadia features nearby walking and biking trails and a pristine forest. All the developments have nearby stores and restaurants, making life in these homes even easier for residents of its community.

The coming years will see Element Residential increase its presence in the Washington State area, as Freed believes the opportunities are solid and it’s best for them to stay where they have a set market and trade base. “So we’ll continue to grow and continue to be the private company that we are and be creative and ultimately be present for our clients today that want to move from a first-time buyer to second or third,” he says.

Buying a home is a major investment, and you want to make sure that the company building your investment has your best interest in mind. With Element Residential homes, buyers can rest assured knowing that they are getting a complete package.


WHO: Element Residential
WHAT: Home builders
WHERE: Sandwich, Illinois

May, 2015 Issue
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