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Key Reasons That Homebuilding Is Taking Off in Texas

With a background education in finance and accounting, Nino Corbett of Compass Land Development is not only a survivor in the home building and land development industry, but one who thrives in a field he is passionate about.  Having experience in both commercial and residential building, he got his start in the financial sector with a large institutional lender who was also a pension fund advisor.

In the early 90’s, he was offered an opportunity to run a privately owned company in Houston. Corbett elaborates, “I left a job with a large publically owned company in Dallas, to relocate in Houston and run a privately owned family business in the residential home building / land development business. In 1992, I became the CEO of a small company with gross revenue of $4 million a year and fewer than 10 employees. When I left 10 years later, we had over 80 employees and sales in excess of $100 million. We also had actively developed over 5,000 residential lots”.  

In 2002, Corbett left to start his own company, Compass Land Development. “I am a small privately owned land development company in Houston,” explains Corbett who found the key to surviving the market down turn was diversification. “The market collapsed in fall of 2007, and didn’t recover until the end of 2012. My ability to survive was directly attributable to having well positioned communities with well capitalized private builders.  We experienced two problems: Velocity declined and lot prices became comparatively stagnant. What I did was lower overhead and diversified in the market. Instead of just land development, I became a consultant to the banks I worked with. I also started a real estate brokerage and property management company.”

While the market has improved, Corbett still holds onto his subsidiary company, Post Oak Properties, and takes due pride in the fact that during the recession his company never defaulted on any loans.

As far as Land-PIE is concerned, “The software is the most practical cash-flow application I’ve encountered in the land development business in the past 15 years. The support has been completely satisfactory. The value of the software for me, is that not only am I able to prepare an accurate cash-flow, but it also enables me to take the analysis and negotiate the equity side of the transaction and it helps me originate the debt.”

What’s his favorite aspect to the software? “I would say the Land-PIE platform makes the data platform – data input platform – easy to understand. The ability to make different assumptions or do a sensitivity analysis very helpful to me.”

While using social media for business is taking over for many industries, Corbett sheds light on why he never uses it to promote his business, “Not using social media – is a big void I have,” he admits, honestly, but hones in on a vital reason for not engaging in the practice, “Social media is not alive in the industry – can’t take a chance with new relationships in the business.” So while many prospective partners and clients may be found on sites such as LinkedIn, he can’t take the chance on forming new relationships that may prove to be less than lucrative or worse, unreliable.

He makes a very valid point especially considering the fact that without even so much as a website for his businesses, they are thriving on word of mouth and his reputation alone. Another reason for the lack of involvement on social media platforms, is generationally based, “In my industry, in Houston, my generation got wiped out in the recession. The older generation was a bit ahead, not as beat up as my generation. They have a huge voice. So we have the older generation still around, the ‘Nino Corbetts’ (speaking of his generation) of the world are few and far between and no one behind me. The private sector can’t provide all the needs; the public industry requires vision and experience, and a lot of the younger guys working for them don’t have the experience to do the hard stuff. They can’t drive down the road and find a plot of land and develop it.”

Lacking a sense of innovation and experience, the younger generation within the building industry is simply not seasoned enough to do the heavy lifting, and the older generation who are not interested in the new opportunities with social media, are still running it.

Having the best of all worlds, Corbett has been able to corral all his skills in a state that has been among the first to recover, has dared to diversify, used the key software to ease the processes and has maintained a passion and enjoyment for his work.