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NVR acquires Heartland Homes, uniting region's top homebuilders

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 12:32 p.m.
Heartland Homes being built in Myoma Woods Thursday, January 3, 2013.
Heartland Home being build in Myoma Woods Thursday, January 3, 2013.
Heartland Home being built in Myoma Woods Thursday, January 3, 2013.

The Pittsburgh region's top two homebuilders, who account for nearly 60 percent of the new-home market, have combined under one company.

Heartland Homes Inc. is now part of Reston, Va.-based NVR Inc., which owns Ryan Homes, the Pittsburgh area's largest builder.

Between the two, 848 houses were sold last year, with Ryan closing on 532 and Heartland, 316, according to RealStats, a South Side-based real estate information company.

Heartland is active in 36 communities throughout the region, one community in Monongalia County, W.Va., and in one community in Raleigh. Ryan operates in 16 Eastern and Midwest states plus Florida.

Heartland President Marty Gillespie will continue to manage Heartland, according to NVR. Gillespie could not be reached for comment.

The acquisition was first reported by the Tribune-Review on Dec. 5, when discussions between the two companies were being held.

NVR announced in a news release issued late Wednesday that it had acquired most of the assets of Heartland on Dec. 31. No price was disclosed nor word given on how the acquisition would affect employment at the company.

“We have no further information to release about the acquisition,” said NVR's Dan Malzahn.

Ryan Homes primarily serves first-time buyers and first-time move-up homebuyers, NVR said. Heartland markets to move-up and discretionary buyers.

The average price of Heartland's sales in 2012 topped Ryan's by $377,646 versus $299,870, according to RealStats.

“With its acquisition by NVR, Heartland will have the resources to expand its entry into the $400,000 to $700,000 housing market, which is typically the ones in which we find local custom builders, who build between 10 to 15 houses annually,” said Jeff Burd, president of Tall Timber Group, a Ross research and consulting company for residential and commercial construction.

Burd expects Heartland and Ryan to continue to build in its current price range, with Heartland perhaps able to expand its share of the higher-end market.

“NVR intends to expand the size of Heartland's business within the Pittsburgh market as the housing recovery continues over the next several years,” NVR said.

NVR Inc. was headed by Dwight Schar, a one-time Ryan employee, when NVR acquired Ryan Homes in 1987. He helped Ryan expand to become a multistate builder and was executive chairman of NVR until 2009, when he became chairman and left the company's daily operations.

The deal reunites members of a home-building family. The late Edward Ryan founded Ryan Homes, and his son-in-law, Gus Gillespie, once was president of Ryan's Pittsburgh region. After the NVR–Ryan merger, Gillespie quit his 18-year career with Ryan and founded Heartland. In 2000, he persuaded his son Marty to leave Eaton Corp. for Heartland. He became president in 2005.

J. Roger Glunt of Glunt Development Co. in Turtle Creek said Heartland now has an owner with capital and resources to help it grow even more.

“Heartland has been extremely successful and is consumer-oriented, and I expect it will continue to build houses in that manner,” Glunt said.

Chris Cenker, general manager of S&A Homes Inc.'s Western Pennsylvania division, expects little change in the home-building landscape in the region because of the acquisition.

“I'll be curious to see what comes out of this as you have the two top homebuilders now under one huge corporation,” Cenker said.

Ron Croushore, president of Prudential Preferred Realty, said one advantage of the two companies might be to consolidate mortgage services.

“These are two great companies, and we've had a pretty good idea the acquisition would happen,” said Helen Hanna Casey, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services Co. “This is very exciting to us, and we think the acquisition will add another dimension to their operation.”

Sam Spatter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7843 or sspatter@tribweb.com.

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