Hillcrest lowers lot prices by $10K
By Mark Sherry
Mark Sherry photos
People throughout eastern Wisconsin have been having Hillcrest Builders and Realty sell their existing homes and then build them the home of their dreams. Lot and home prices start at $170,000 for a quality home. Owner Oyvind Solvang recently announced that Hillcrest is lowering lot prices by $10,000 in all Hillcrest-owned developments, including Kieland Meadows on Kiel’s southwest side.

People are used to saving a few pennies or maybe a few dollars when specials are run by various businesses, but saving $10,000 on a single item...?

That is what is happening at Hillcrest Builders and Realty, where owner Oyvind Solvang said lot prices are being dropped by $10,000 in all Hillcrest-owned developments—including Kieland Meadows in Kiel.

“We’ve done this to stimulate activity,” Solvang said. “Lot price is a big component in our home packages. We’re going to price ourselves to that level which encourages development. We want to capture people who are considering building now.”

Combined with Hillcrest’s already affordable prices, continuing record low mortgage interest rates and easing of mortgage requirements on the part of financial institutions, this is an excellent time to build a new home. “There are a lot of people who have wanted to build for a long time,” Solvang said.

Holding the line on prices

Prices on construction materials continue to increase, but Hillcrest is holding the line on what it charges as yet another way to encourage development.

Some people who have wanted to build a new home have been hesitant to take that step because of concerns that their existing home might be undervalued in the current market. Solvang said he has seen home prices start to rise.

That is also where the benefit comes into play of Hillcrest having both real estate and construction arms. Solvang said for about two-thirds of its new home customers, Hillcrest Realty is listing the customer’s existing home. “We make the economics work,” he said. “That’s been a key part of the growth of Hillcrest Realty.”

Solvang said Hillcrest does not have to lower the prices of all its lots by $10,000 as business is already very good; in fact, he said 2013 is already shaping up to be a record year. The lower lot prices will only keep the momentum going.

“We’re very busy,” he said. “We think this will add to it. We think we will have a record year this year.”

Geographic growth helps

A big part of the growth at Hillcrest is also its geographic expansion into Manitowoc, Ozaukee and Milwaukee counties.

Hillcrest has long built homes in Manitowoc County, including in Kiel’s Rockville subdivision and, again, in its own Kieland Meadows on the city’s southwest side. Kieland Meadows has some lots which face a conservancy area. A handful of homes already have been built in that “community within a community.”

But Hillcrest is being called upon to build even more homes throughout Manitowoc County. “It was customer interest and a long-term desire to be there,” Solvang said. “It’s in a very manageable radius for us.”

A little further out but very lucrative for Hillcrest is its growth in Ozaukee and Milwaukee counties. Hillcrest’s largest remodeling project to date has been done in Milwaukee, and its developments in Fredonia, Port Washington and Grafton are doing well, Solvang said. Hillcrest also has communities in Sheboygan County (Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls and Plymouth) which are gaining momentum as well, he added.

A number of Hillcrest’s new homes have been high-end homes by choice of the customer, but Solvang said, “We can do a home/lot package starting at $170,000, and it’s a very high quality home.”

In fact, Hillcrest continues to do more than build new homes and sell existing ones. It also does remodeling projects in Kiel, New Holstein or elsewhere throughout eastern Wisconsin.

Whether it is doing a major remodeling project, selling an existing home or building someone’s dream home, Hillcrest is staying very busy because its reputation for quality continues to spread. “People know us,” Solvang said. “We’ve gotten to be very well known because of the number of homes we’ve built, and the people are very happy.

Having in-house design experts is just one of the factors which make doing business with Hillcrest easy and convenient. As an example, Solvang told of an out-of-area customer who will be moving to the area and how Hillcrest has taken care of all the customer’s needs with a single visit supplemented by e-mails and phone calls.

Flexibility is another positive trait of Hillcrest. While it has a wide variety of standard home plans and a broad selection of products to choose from—floors to shingles and everything in between— it also is always willing to work with the customer to give them what they want. “People come in with their plans and together we modify from there, and yet we still have a very clean way to respond to a custom plan and to price it. It’s presented in a way that is not intimidating, and they can set priorities between features and amenities. Everyone has a budget so we present their choices clearly and concisely.”

Along those same lines, Hillcrest also is not intimidated when it comes to tackling the unusual project. As an example, a home it built a year ago for a customer near Elkhart Lake recently became one of only a few homes in Wisconsin to be certified as Platinum by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for its extensive use of energy saving features.

For more information about Hillcrest Builders and Realty call (920) 526-3600 (sales) or (920) 526-3028 (operations) or check out www.hillcrestbuilders.com.