With the current state of the economy in Alberta, it’s no surprise the real estate market is facing challenges. There’s a growing emphasis amongst consumers on getting more for less. Don Barrineau, president of Mattamy Homes’ Calgary division, believes Mattamy Homes is on the leading edge of improving efficiency and ecological sensibility in the Calgary market.
CREB®Now: Tell us a bit about Mattamy Homes.
Barrineau: Mattamy Homes is the largest privately owned builder and developer in North America. We’re a Canadian company based out of Toronto, which is where the company started. Peter Gilgan, our CEO, founded us in 1978. We’ve grown into a significant business with a commanding market share.
CREB®Now: You picked a challenging time to expand to Calgary?
Barrineau: We got here in 2007/08 and started setting up the division. We then had our first home closings in 2009. I was in Edmonton at the time doing organic start-up for that division, and then came down here in 2014. By then the market was doing great.
CREB®Now: And now we’re in a bit of a tough spot again?
Barrineau: But we’re doing really well! Our model revolves around what we call ‘masterplan communities’, which involve three to four thousand home communities. That allows us to offer a lot of home for the money.
CREB®Now: What about Mattamy’s approach creates extra value?
Barrineau: We build contiguously up and down the street, in a pre-planned fashion – almost treating it like a manufacturing process. And so when people move in they’re excited because there isn’t construction happening around them for the first few years. The whole is process is much more efficient because it’s all done in-house. Design, supply, development, building – it’s all run under one roof. It also keeps costs under control and leads to better community appeal, allowing for better green belts and streetscapes as opposed to just a pile of lots.
CREB®Now: Mattamy develops entire neighborhoods; how do you prevent them from all looking the same?
Barrineau: That’s one of the things we pride ourselves on. Mattamy projects have more street appeal because elevations are wider and shallower, which gives our designers more options, from materials all the way to color palettes.
CREB®Now: What is an important trend we’re seeing in real estate right now?
Barrineau: Sustainability. We’ve just hired a new vice president of sustainability to help us become leaders in that field.
We’ve already begun exploring that idea with our Net Zero homes – homes that put as much energy back into the grid as they consume. We finished and closed five of those last year. We always try to be cutting edge, and so we have some exciting things coming in that regard.