McKee Homes LLC

McKee

McKee Homes takes pride in its homes and its work spreading awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. By Alan Dorich

It’s a good time for McKee Homes LLC to be in business, co-owner Pat McKee says. The housing market is on an upswing, and demand for the company’s product is strong. “It’s great to be part of a business that, for so long, was beat down so bad,” he says.

Based in Fayetteville, N.C., McKee Homes builds single-family detached homes and townhomes in the eastern portion of North Carolina. “Our primary customers are first-time buyers and move-up homebuyers,” McKee says.

McKee and his brother, Mike McKee, started the company in 2010 as a homebuilder in the Fayetteville market. Previously, Mike McKee was looking to invest in a new venture after selling his own company, Controlled Solutions, to a private equity firm in 2008.

“I was already building houses under a different name,” Pat McKee recalls. “I was struggling with bank financing at the time and it was hard to build a homebuilding company of any scale.”

But with his brother’s capital, McKee Homes started to acquire lots and build houses, which proved to be a successful strategy. The two also dedicated the company to their father, Joe McKee, who died in 2010 after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Although the elder McKee wanted to be a homebuilder, he never achieved that dream. “We said, ‘Let’s dedicate our company in his name since he was never able to carry through and become a homebuilder,’” Pat McKee recalls.

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McKee Homes puts a percentage of every home sale in its Joe McKee Memorial Alzheimer’s Fund, which is used “to support the Alzheimer’s Association of Eastern NC to bring awareness of Alzheimer’s in all the areas we’re building in,” Pat McKee says. This has helped the company promote the cause and gain attention from the media.

“I spend a little bit of time out in the community promoting our connection with the Alzheimer’s Association,” he says, noting that his wife, Julie Russo, does as well. “We’ve gotten back ten-fold what we’ve put into that organization.”

The Joe McKee Memorial Alzheimer’s Fund also supports other causes including Home for A Hero, which partners with builders to build adaptive homes for wounded veterans.  Typically, the veteran is given the house with as little as a $50,000 mortgage. McKee Homes and its vendors and partners donated over $250,000 toward the cost of a home for a veteran.

Growing Strong

McKee Homes has enjoyed annual growth with the number of homes it builds, McKee says. “Last year, we sold 204 houses and this year we’ll sell 260 houses,” he predicts.

The company also expects to grow its sales this year, from $34 million to $60 million. McKee credits this growth to multiple factors, including its expansion in its markets. “We’re in many additional areas and subdivisions,” he says.

McKee Homes’ portion of sales to active adults also is expanding, thanks to its partnership with Epcon Communities Franchising Inc. Epcon franchises the rights to build its concept that appeals to this customer group, McKee says.

“We have the franchise to build and sell that concept in our areas that are targeted towards 55 and older,” he says, noting that active adults comprise 25 percent of McKee Homes’ sales. “We see that growing over the next few years.”

McKee Homes’ capital situation also gives it an advantage over competitors. “We can purchase larger chunks of land to deliver to ourselves,” he says. “We’re fortunate that [our] market, the eastern North Carolina area, has come back pretty strongly.” McKeeInfo

He also praises the company’s sales and marketing team, including online sales. “Thirty-five percent of our business comes from online leads,” McKee says.

A Strong Market

McKee predicts a strong future for his company. Despite shortages of labor and lots, “We see demand increasing and continuing to get stronger,” he says.

“We’ve got an extremely accommodating interest rate environment,” McKee says, noting that he does not think rates will rise. “There are too many things to push them down and too many other things that rely on low interest rates. The market trends are very strong in this business.”

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