Everybody listened. But there was only silence.
One would expect a garage-door opener to make noise when operated, but MBK Homes decided to install quiet ones in their new townhomes at Aragon in Signal Hill. From installing silent garage-door openers to hand-nailing each nail when stuccoing, MBK Homes wanted to highlight their attention to detail during the media debut of their complex on April 17.
“We have all of these little things that we do to end up with a better house, and that’s part of our Japanese tradition,” said Timothy Kane, president of the company, a subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. “We really are delivering a house that we consider to be just superior to the stuff some of our competitors are doing.”
After doing those “little things” and facing the challenges of building in Signal Hill, MBK Homes is opening its new townhome complex, Aragon, this month amid industry reports of an improved real-estate market.
The new development, between 19th Street and Pacific Coast Highway west of Obispo Avenue, will feature more than 80 units, multiple floor plans, solar panels, and various options, according to MBK Homes representatives. The units start at around $350,000. The median sales price of Signal Hill homes in March was $280,000, according to real-estate brokerage Redfin.
In appealing to buyers, the company tailors each floor plan choice to buyers’ profiles through market and demographic research.
“What we’ll do…with each community is look and see, ‘Are our buyers going to be singles? Are they going to be young couples? Are they going to be Gen Y millennials? Is it a move-down buyer? Is it a Boomer? Is it a big family because of the great schools?’” said Rick Fletcher, vice president of sales and marketing at MBK Homes. “Each community in each location is going to appeal to a different category of buyer, so we felt that…in Signal Hill, at our prices, this was a strong first-time buyer profile.”
Yet appealing to specific buyers isn’t the only challenge they face. Since Signal Hill lies within a fault zone and is home to numerous abandoned oil fields, building in the city requires a level of care perhaps unnecessary in other cities.
While no active faults run through the site of Aragon, the site was close to “oil wells, and the mitigation of that upfront was quite extensive,” said Michael Schmidt, vice president of operations at MBK.
The company hired an environmental consulting company to get them in compliance with regulations a few years ago, Schmidt said.
However, the City and the State have procedures in place to deal with these obstacles so developers can build in Signal Hill.
“With oil wells, there are state standards, and we have an entire oil code for dealing with building over and/or near abandoned oil wells…because they’re all over the city,” said Colleen Doan, associate planner for Signal Hill. “In this community we’ve lots of buildings built over abandoned oil wells– it’s done commonly.”
Doan added that California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources oversees the process of development regarding oil wells, which Kane affirmed in discussing the construction of Aragon.
It’s likely that MBK Homes’s efforts will be worth it, seeing as how, according to recent reports, the real-estate market is improving and favoring sellers.
Aragon, whose units can be bought starting on April 20, already has 90 people on its waiting list to buy the six units built during the first phase of construction, Fletcher said. Move-ins start in August, with subsequent phases to be completed over the next two years, Fletcher added.
Buyers who miss out on this particular development can look forward to more MBK Homes locations in the future thanks to the resurgent real-estate market.
“We really haven’t expanded for the last five years because the market has been pretty tough,” Kane said. “We’ve purchased four new communities in the last 90 days, and we’re planning to grow and expand again.”