0001574596 New Home Co Inc. false --12-31 FY 2019 1 1 1 1 2 0 3 5 0 18,000 0 0 2 10 5 35 0 0 0 10 1 3 10 0 21 Balance represents the Company's interest, as reflected in the financial records of the respective joint ventures. This balance differs from the investment in and advances to unconsolidated joint ventures balance reflected in the Company's consolidated balance sheets by $2.5 million due to interest capitalized to the Company's investment in joint ventures and certain other differences in outside basis. During 2019, we recorded litigation reserves totaling $5.9 million related to ordinary course litigation which developed and became probable and estimable within the 2019 fourth quarter. Further, as a result of the development of the construction defect related claims within the litigation reserve and their impact to the Company's litigation reserve estimates for incurred but not reported ("IBNR") future construction defect claims, we recorded an additional $5.0 million of IBNR construction defect claim reserves resulting in aggregate litigation reserves totaling $10.9 million as of December 31, 2019. Because the self-insured retention deductibles had been met for each claim covered by the $5.9 million reserve, and the self-insured retention deductibles are expected to be met for the $5.0 million IBNR construction defect claim reserves, the Company recorded estimated insurance receivables of $10.9 million offsetting the litigation reserves as of December 31, 2019. Represents the peak number of real estate projects that we had during each respective year. The number of projects outstanding at the end of each year may be less than the number of projects listed herein. Capitalized selling and marketing costs includes costs incurred for tangible assets directly used in the sales process such as our sales offices, design studios and model furnishings, and also includes model landscaping costs, which were $2.8 million and $5.6 million as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively. The Company depreciated $8.7 million and $6.2 million, of capitalized selling and marketing costs to selling and marketing expenses during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively. In conjunction with the adoption of ASC 842, the Company established a $3.5 million lease liability on January 1, 2019. For more information, please refer to Note 1 and Note 11. The Company recorded insurance receivables of $10.9 million in connection with $10.9 million of litigation reserves recorded as of December 31, 2019. For more information, please refer to Note 8 . The Company adjusted its warranty insurance receivable upward by $1.4 million during 2019 to true-up the receivable to its estimate of qualifying reimbursable expenditures which resulted in pretax income of the same amount. Included in the amount for 2019 and 2018 is approximately $1.9 million and $0.9 million, respectively, of warranty liabilities estimated to be recovered by our insurance policies. Balance represents equity in net income (loss) of unconsolidated joint ventures included in the statements of operations related to the Company's investment in these two unconsolidated joint ventures. The balance may differ from the amount of profit or loss allocated to the Company as reflected in each joint venture's financial records primarily due to basis differences such as other-than-temporary impairment charges, interest capitalized to the Company's investment in joint ventures, and/or profit deferral from lot sales from the joint ventures to the Company. Included in the amount for 2017 is approximately $1.2 million of additional warranty liabilities estimated to be covered by our insurance policies that were adjusted to present the warranty reserves and related estimated warranty insurance receivable on a gross basis at December 31, 2017. Of the $1.2 million adjusted in 2017, approximately $0.6 million related to prior year estimated warranty insurance recoveries. Netted against the amount recorded in 2017 is a warranty accrual adjustment of $0.8 million related to a lower experience rate of expected warranty expenditures which resulted in a credit to cost of home sales of the same amount in the accompanying consolidated statement of operations. During 2018, the estimated amount to be covered by our insurance policies was reduced by $0.3 million. Netted against the amount recorded in 2018 is a warranty accrual adjustment of $43,000 related to higher expected warranty expenditures which resulted in an increase of $43,000 to cost of home sales in the accompanying consolidated statement of operations. During 2019, the Company recorded a warranty accrual adjustment of $0.5 million due to higher expected warranty expenditures which resulted in an increase of the same amount to cost of home sales in the accompanying consolidated statement of operations. Some amounts do not add to our full year results presented on our consolidated statement of operations due to rounding differences in quarterly and annual weighted average share calculations. Included in the amount for 2017 is a reduction of approximately $31,000 to warranty liabilities made in conjunction with adjustments made to present the warranty reserve and related estimated warranty insurance receivable on a gross basis at December 31, 2017. Netted with the 2017 amount is a $63,000 adjustment related to lower experience rate of expected warranty expenditures which resulted in a credit to fee cost of sales in the accompanying consolidated statement of operations. During 2018, the estimated amount to be covered by our insurance policies was increased by approximately $32,000. Netted with this amount was a warranty accrual adjustment of approximately $30,000 related to higher expected warranty expenditures which resulted in an increase to fee cost of sales of the same amount in the accompanying consolidated statement of operations. In 2019, the Company recorded an adjustment of $0.1 million due to a lower experience rate of expected warranty expenditures for fee building projects which resulted in a reduction of the same amount to fee cost of sales in the accompanying consolidated statement of operations. Does not include the cost of short-term leases with terms of less than one year which totaled approximately $0.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 or the benefit from a sublease agreement of one of our office spaces which totaled approximately $0.2 million for year ended December 31, 2019. In conjunction with the adoption of ASC 842, the Company established a right-of-use asset of $3.1 million on January 1, 2019. For more information, please refer to Note 1 and Note 11. Our leases do not provide a readily determinable implicit rate. Therefore, we utilized our incremental borrowing rate for such leases to determine the present value of lease payments at the lease commencement date. There were no legally binding minimum lease payments for leases signed but not yet commenced at December 31, 2019. Lease payments include options to extend lease terms that are reasonably certain of being exercised. The carrying value for the Senior Notes, as presented at December 31, 2019, is net of the unamortized discount of $1.1 million, unamortized premium of $0.9 million, and unamortized debt issuance costs of $3.0 million. The carrying value of the Senior Notes, as presented at December 31, 2018, is net of the unamortized discount of $1.7 million, unamortized premium of $1.3 million, and unamortized debt issuance costs of $4.5 million. The unamortized discount, unamortized premium and debt issuance costs are not factored into the estimated fair value. 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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 10-K

 

 

 

(Mark One)

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019 or

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from ______to ______

 

 

Commission File Number 001-36283

 

 

 

The New Home Company Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

 

 

 

Delaware

 

27-0560089

(State or other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

85 Enterprise, Suite 450

Aliso Viejo, California 92656

(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (949382-7800

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share

NWHM

New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

 

 

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ☐    No  ☒

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  ☐    No  ☒ 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ☒    No  ☐

 

 

 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes  ☒    No  ☐ 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company," and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

Emerging growth company

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes      No  ☒

 

The aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant on June 28, 2019, based on the closing price of $3.85 as reported by the New York Stock Exchange was $58,925,798.

 

There were 20,096,969 shares of the registrant's common stock issued and outstanding as of February 11, 2020.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:

 

The information required by Part III of this Report, to the extent not set forth herein, is incorporated herein by reference from the registrant’s definitive proxy statement relating to the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held in 2020, which definitive proxy statement shall be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year to which this Report relates.

 

 

 
 

ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K

FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED December 31, 2019

 

 

 

 

Page

Number

Part I

 

 

 

Item 1

Business

5

Item 1A

Risk Factors

13

Item 1B

Unresolved Staff Comments

30

Item 2

Properties

31

Item 3

Legal Proceedings

31

Item 4

Mine Safety Disclosures

31

 

Part II

 

 

 

Item 5

Market For Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

32

Item 6

Selected Financial Data

33

Item 7

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

34

Item 7A

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

57

Item 8

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

58

Item 9

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

58

Item 9A

Controls and Procedures

58

Item 9B

Other Information

59

 

Part III

 

 

 

Item 10

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

60

Item 11

Executive Compensation

60

Item 12

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

60

Item 13

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

60

Item 14

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

60

 

Part IV

 

 

 

Item 15

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

61

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary (Not Applicable)

 

Signatures

109

 

3

 

 

CAUTIONARY NOTE CONCERNING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This annual report on Form 10-K and other materials we have filed or will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") (as well as information included in oral statements or other written statements made or to be made by us) contains or may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act, as amended.  All statements contained in this annual report on Form 10-K other than statements of historical fact, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial position, our business strategy and plans, and our objectives for future operations, are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are frequently accompanied by words such as "believe," "may," "will," "estimate," "continue," "anticipate," "intend," "expect," "goal," "could," "can," "might," "should," "plan" and similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy, short-term and long-term business operations and objectives, and financial needs. Such statements may include, but are not limited to information related to: anticipated operating results; home deliveries; the ability to acquire land and pursue real estate opportunities; our ability to reduce our leverage; our plans to sell more affordably priced homes; inventory write-downs; the ability to gain approvals and open new communities; the ability to sell homes and properties; the ability to deliver homes from backlog; the ability to secure materials and subcontractors; joint ventures in which we are involved; anticipated results from our investments in unconsolidated entities; the ability to produce the liquidity and obtain capital necessary to expand and take advantage of opportunities; financial resources and condition; changes in revenues; changes in profitability; changes in margins; changes in accounting treatment; cost of sales; selling, general and administrative expenses; interest expense; community openings; seasonality; home warranty claims and reserves; legal proceedings; unrecognized tax benefits; anticipated effective tax rates; seasonality; dividends; sales paces and prices; trends and effects of home buyer cancellations; and growth and expansion.

 

From time to time, forward-looking statements also are included in other reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K, in press releases, in presentations, on our website and in other materials released to the public. Any or all of the forward-looking statements included in this report and in any other reports or public statements made by us are not guarantees of future performance and may turn out to be inaccurate. This can occur as a result of incorrect assumptions or as a consequence of known or unknown risks and uncertainties. Many factors mentioned in this report or in other reports or public statements made by us, such as market conditions, government regulation and the competitive environment, will be important in determining our future performance. New risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. Consequently, actual results may differ materially from those that might be anticipated from our forward-looking statements.

 

Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we undertake no obligation to revise or publicly release any revision to these forward-looking statements, except as required by law. Given these risks and uncertainties, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements.

 

For a discussion of factors that we believe could cause our actual results to differ materially from expected and historical results, see "Item 1A - Risk Factors" in this annual report on Form 10-K. This discussion is provided as permitted by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and all of our forward-looking statements are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained or referenced in this section.

 

4

Table of Contents

 

PART I

 

Item 1.

Business

 

As used in this annual report on Form 10-K, unless the context otherwise requires or indicates, references to "the Company," "our company," "we," "our" and "us" refer to The New Home Company Inc. and its subsidiaries.  You should read the following in conjunction with the section titled "Risk Factors", which is included in Part I, Item 1A in this annual report on Form 10-K. 

 

Our Company

 

We are a new generation homebuilder focused on the design, construction and sale of innovative and consumer-driven homes in major metropolitan areas within select growth markets in California and Arizona, including Southern California, the San Francisco Bay area, metro Sacramento and the greater Phoenix area.

 

We were founded in 2009, towards the end of an unprecedented downturn in the U.S. homebuilding industry, as The New Home Company LLC, which entity was formed in June 2009.  In January 2014, we converted from a limited liability company to a corporation and renamed our company The New Home Company Inc. when we completed our initial public offering of shares of our common stock. We believe our management team has extensive and complementary construction, design, marketing, development and entitlement expertise, as well as strong relationships with key land sellers within each of our local markets, and a reputation for quality building, which provide a competitive advantage in being able to acquire land, participate in and create masterplans, obtain entitlements and build quality homes.

 

We are organized into three reportable segments: Arizona homebuilding, California homebuilding and fee building. Our California homebuilding operation is comprised of divisions in Northern California and Southern California.  Our primary business focus is building and selling homes for our own account and we also have a meaningful fee building business. For financial information about our segments, see Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and Note 15 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

 

Homebuilding Operations

 

We are currently focused on identifying unique sites and creating communities that allow us to design, construct and sell consumer-driven, single-family detached and attached homes in major metropolitan areas in Southern California, metro Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay area and the greater Phoenix area. We seek sites where we are rewarded for thoughtful land planning and architecture, and additional defining characteristics of our markets generally include barriers to entry, job growth, high employment to building permit ratios and increasing populations, which can create growing demand for new housing. We perform consumer research that helps us create land plans and design homes that meet the needs and desires of our targeted buyers. We believe our approach to market research and construction expertise across an extensive product offering allows us the flexibility to pursue a wide array of land acquisition opportunities and appeals to a broad range of potential homebuyers, including entry-level, move-up, move-down and luxury customers. The homes that we and our unconsolidated joint ventures build range in price from approximately $300,000 to over $3 million, with home sizes ranging from approximately700 to 5,000 square feet. Our homebuilding operations are comprised of two reportable segments, Arizona homebuilding and California homebuilding.  Total homebuilding revenue contributed to86%, 76% and 75% of total revenue for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, the average sales price of homes delivered from our wholly owned communities was approximately $927,000, $1.0 million and $1.6 million, respectively. We believe that customer-focused community creation and product development, our reputation for high quality construction, as well as exemplary customer service, are key components of the lifestyle connection we seek to establish with each homebuyer.

 

Additionally, we strive to enhance the home-buying experience and buyers’ personal investment in their homes by actively engaging them in the selection of design options and upgrades in many of our communities. We believe that our on-site design studios in such communities allow buyers to personalize our home offerings with dedicated designers who are knowledgeable about the attributes of the homes offered in the community. We believe that the active participation of buyers in selecting options and upgrades results in buyers becoming more personally invested in their homes. We also believe our emphasis on customer care provides us a competitive advantage. Our commitment to customer satisfaction is a key element of company culture, which fosters an environment where team members can innovate.

 

We seek to reduce upfront capital and exposure to land risk through the use of land options and other flexible land acquisition and development arrangements. The Company owned approximately 1,578 lots and had options to purchase an additional 1,123 lots as of December 31, 2019. We believe our lot option strategy allows us to leverage and establish a homebuilding platform focused on high-growth, land-constrained markets. In addition, we believe that our professional reputation and long-standing relationships with key land sellers, including masterplan community developers, brokers and other builders, as well as our land development joint venture partners, enable us to acquire well-positioned land parcels in our existing markets as well as new target markets. 

 

5

Table of Contents

 

Fee Building Operations

 

Our fee business is comprised primarily of building for third party landowners for a fee with such third party landowners paying or reimbursing the Company for all costs associated with construction. Our fee building segment also includes our management fee revenues that we receive for serving as the managing member or other similar role in our joint ventures. We believe our fee building business complements our homebuilding business, as most of the fee building occurs in what we believe are very attractive masterplan communities in Southern California and in a concentrated geographic area. One of our wholly owned subsidiaries is usually the general contractor for our and our unconsolidated joint ventures’ projects and engages third party subcontractors for home construction and land development.

 

The following table shows the percentage of each segment's revenue in relation to our consolidated total revenues for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017.  For additional information related to geographic location of our homebuilding revenues, see Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations."

 

   

Year Ended December 31,

 
   

(dollars in thousands)

 
   

2019

   

% of Total Revenues

   

2018

   

% of Total Revenues

   

2017

   

% of Total Revenues

 

Homebuilding revenues:

                                               

California home sales

  $ 472,242       71 %   $ 504,029       76 %   $ 560,842       75 %

California land sales

    41,664       6 %           %           %

Arizona home sales

    60,110       9 %           %           %

Total homebuilding revenues

    574,016       86 %     504,029       76 %     560,842       75 %

Fee building revenues, including management fees

    95,333       14 %     163,537       24 %     190,324       25 %

Total revenues

  $ 669,349       100 %   $ 667,566       100 %   $ 751,166       100 %

 

Summary of Owned and Controlled Lots

 

As of December 31, 2019, we owned or controlled an aggregate of 2,701 lots in our homebuilding segment and 1,135 lots through our fee building segment. The following table presents certain information with respect to our wholly owned and fee building lots as of December 31, 2019. See Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Results of Operations - Lots Owned and Controlled" for further detail.

 

   

December 31,

 
           

Change

           

Change

         
   

2019

   

Amount

   

%

   

2018

   

Amount

   

%

   

2017

 
Lots Owned     1,578       (89 )     (5 )%     1,667       721       76 %     946  

Lots Controlled(1)

    1,123       (22 )     (2 )%     1,145       (661 )     (37 )%     1,806  

Total Lots Owned and Controlled - Wholly Owned

    2,701       (111 )     (4 )%     2,812       60       2 %     2,752  

Fee Building Lots(2)

    1,135       329       41 %     806       (114 )     (12 )%     920  

 


(1)

Includes lots that we control under purchase and sales agreements or option agreements subject to customary conditions and have not yet closed. There can be no assurance that such acquisitions will occur.

(2)

Lots owned by third party property owners for which we perform general contracting or construction management services.

 

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Backlog

 

At December 31, 2019 and 2018, homes under contract, but not yet delivered ("backlog") totaled 149 and 191, respectively, with an estimated sales value of $125.8 million and $207.1 million, respectively. We expect to deliver all of the homes in backlog at December 31, 2019 during 2020 under existing home order contracts or through the replacement of an existing contract with a new home order contract. The estimated backlog sales value at December 31, 2019 may be impacted by, among other things, subsequent home order cancellations, incentives provided, and/or options and upgrades selected. 

 

Acquisition Process

 

Our land acquisition strategy focuses on purchasing entitled finished, or partially improved land sufficient for construction of homes over a two- to three-year period from the initiation of homebuilding activity. We also selectively acquire parcels that require land development activities. Our acquisition process generally includes the following steps aimed at reducing development and market cycle risk:

 

 

review of the status of entitlements and other governmental processing, including title reviews;

 

identification of target buyer and appropriate housing product;

 

determination of land plan to accommodate desired housing product;

 

completion of environmental reviews and third-party market studies;

 

preparation of detailed budgets for all cost categories;

 

completion of due diligence on the land parcel prior to committing to the acquisition;

 

limitation on the size of an acquisition relative to the Company's pro forma capitalization; and

 

centralized acquisition procedure through a land committee and full Board approval process for larger acquisitions.

 

Before purchasing a land parcel, we engage and work closely with outside architects and consultants to design our homes and communities.

 

We also differentiate our acquisition strategy based on whether the land is in a masterplan community, or part of a larger development. For land which is not part of a larger development or masterplan, we generally enter into a purchase agreement with the land owner and deliver a deposit, which becomes nonrefundable upon the expiration of a specified due diligence period. The closing is generally tied to the date on which we have obtained development entitlements for the land. For land which is part of a larger development being developed by a master developer, we generally enter into a purchase agreement with the master developer and pay a deposit that becomes nonrefundable upon expiration of the due diligence period. The closing in master developments is generally tied to the issuance of final land development entitlements and completion of certain infrastructure and other improvements by the master developer. In master developments we may acquire all of the land at the closing or we may acquire the land in "phases". In master developments we may be required to (a) pay to the master developer a share of our net profit in excess of a specified margin (b) pay to the master developer marketing fees and/or (c) grant the master developer the right to repurchase the land if we fail to develop the land in accordance with applicable development requirements or wish to sell the land in bulk. Our acquisition and development financing is generally obtained using one or more of the following: (i) proceeds from the sale of debt securities, (ii) unsecured lines of credit; (iii) secured acquisition and development loans; and/or (iv) land bank arrangements with providers who take title to the land at closing subject to agreements which obligate us to perform all development activities with respect to the land and provide us with an option to purchase the land.

 

Construction, Marketing and Sales Process

 

We typically develop communities in phases based upon projected sales. We seek to control the timing of construction of subsequent phases in the same community based on sales demand in prior phases. Our construction process is driven by sales contracts that often precede the start of the construction of homes, however, depending on the price point, product, and buyer demand we also engage in some speculative building. The determination that a potential home buyer is qualified to obtain the financing necessary to complete the purchase is an integral part of our process. Once qualified, our designers, which are often at on-site design centers, work with the buyer to tailor the home to meet the buyer’s needs and budget.

 

Land Development and Construction

 

We customarily acquire improved or unimproved land zoned for residential use. To control larger land parcels or gain access to certain desirable parcels, we sometimes form land development joint ventures with third parties in order to provide us with a pipeline of land to acquire from the joint venture when the lots are developed. If we purchase raw land or partially developed land, we will perform development work that may include negotiating with governmental agencies and local communities to obtain any necessary zoning, environmental and other regulatory approvals and permits, and constructing, as necessary, roads, water, sewer and drainage systems and recreational facilities like parks, community centers, pools, and hiking and biking trails.

 

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The design of our homes must conform to zoning requirements, building codes and energy efficiency laws. As a result, we contract with a number of architects, engineers, and other consultants in connection with the design process. We act as a general contractor (and certain of our wholly owned subsidiaries hold the general contractor's licenses in California and Arizona) with our supervisory employees coordinating most of the land development and construction work on a project. Independent architectural design, engineering and other consulting firms are generally engaged on a project-by-project basis to assist in project planning and community and home design, and subcontractors and trade partners are engaged to perform all of the physical development and construction work. Although we generally do not have long-term contractual commitments with our subcontractors, trade partners, suppliers or laborers, we maintain strong and long-standing relationships with many of our subcontractors and trade partners. We believe that our relationships with subcontractors and trade partners have been enhanced through involving them prior to the start of a new community, maintaining our schedules and making timely payments. By dealing fairly, we believe we are able to keep our key subcontractors and trade partners loyal to us.

 

Sales and Marketing

 

In connection with the sale and marketing of our homes, we make extensive use of advertising and other promotional activities, including through our website (www.NWHM.com), social-media, brochures, direct mail and other community-specific collateral materials. The information contained in, or that can be accessed through our website, is not incorporated by reference and is not a part of this annual report on Form 10-K.

 

We primarily sell our homes through our own sales representatives and through the use of outside brokers. It is also fairly common that a third party broker representing a homebuyer receives co-broker commissions in connection with a sale. One of our wholly owned subsidiaries holds the corporate broker's licenses in California and Arizona. Our in-house sales force works from sales offices located in model homes or sales centers close to, or within each community. Sales representatives assist potential buyers by providing them with floor plan, price and community amenity information, construction timetables, and tours of model homes.

 

Generally, we build model homes at each project and have them professionally decorated and landscaped to display design features and options available for purchase in the design center. We believe that model homes play a significant role in helping homebuyers understand the efficiencies and value provided by each floor plan type. Structural changes in design from the model homes, other than those predetermined, are not generally permitted, but homebuyers may select various other optional construction and design amenities. The specific options selected for each community are based upon the price of the home and anticipated buyer preferences. Options include structural (room configurations or pre-determined additional square footage), electrical, plumbing and finish options (flooring, cabinets, fixtures). In certain communities, we may also offer turn-key landscape options. 

 

We typically sell homes using sales contracts that include cash deposits by the purchasers. Most homebuyers utilize long-term mortgage financing to purchase a home, and mortgage lenders will usually make loans only to qualified borrowers. Before entering into sales contracts, we pre-qualify many of our customers through a third party preferred mortgage provider. However, purchasers can generally cancel sales contracts if they are unable to sell their existing homes, if they fail to qualify for financing, or under certain other circumstances. For our communities, the cancellation rate of buyers who contracted to buy a home but did not close escrow as a percentage of overall orders was 11%, 10% and 9% for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Cancellation rates are subject to a variety of factors, including those beyond our control, such as adverse economic or housing market conditions and increases in mortgage interest rates. Cancellation rates have increased gradually over the last couple years which we believe is consistent with our transition to offering more affordable product, which generally has higher cancellation rates than move-up and luxury product offerings.

 

Quality Control and Customer Service

 

We pay particular attention to the product design process and carefully consider quality and choice of materials in order to attempt to eliminate building deficiencies. The quality and workmanship of the subcontractors and trade partners we employ are monitored using our personnel and third-party consultants. We make regular inspections and evaluations of our subcontractors and trade partners to seek to ensure that our standards are met.

 

We utilize a third party quality control provider and maintain customer service staff whose role includes providing a positive experience for each customer throughout the delivery and post-delivery periods. These employees are responsible for providing after-sales customer service, including the coordination of warranty requests. Our quality and service initiatives include taking homebuyers on a comprehensive tour of their home during construction and prior to delivery. In addition, we generally use a third party, Eliant, to survey our homebuyers in order to improve our performance and evaluate our standards of quality and customer satisfaction.

 

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Insurance and Warranty Program

 

We provide a limited one-year warranty to our homeowners covering workmanship and materials. In addition, we generally provide a more limited warranty, which generally ranges from a minimum of two years up to the period covered by the applicable statute of repose, that covers certain defined construction defects. The limited warranty covering construction defects is transferable to subsequent buyers and provides for the resolution of unresolved construction-related disputes through binding arbitration. Additionally, we have dedicated customer service staff that work with our homebuyers and coordinate with subcontractors and trade partners, as necessary, during the warranty period. While our subcontractors who perform our homebuilding work generally provide us with an indemnity for claims relating to their workmanship and materials, we also purchase general liability insurance that covers development and construction activity at each of our communities. Our subcontractors are usually covered by these programs through an owner-controlled insurance program, or "OCIP." Consultants such as engineers and architects are generally not covered by the OCIP but are required to maintain their own insurance. In general, we maintain insurance, subject to deductibles and self-insured retentions, to protect us against various risks associated with our activities, including, among others, general liability, "all-risk" property, construction defects, workers’ compensation, automobile, and employee fidelity. Our warranty and litigation reserves are presented on a gross basis before coverage from insurance, and expected recoveries from insurance carriers are presented as a receivable, the net result of which is equivalent to our expected costs associated with the deductibles and self-insured amounts for warranty and construction defect claims.  For a further discussion of the risks associated with our warranty and insurance program, please see the risk factor under the heading "Risks Related to Our Business - We are subject to construction defect, warranty, and personal injury claims arising in the ordinary course of business that can be significant and could adversely affect our financial position and results of operations."

 

Seasonality and Cycles

 

We have experienced seasonal variations in our quarterly operating results and capital requirements in each of our California and Arizona homebuilding reportable segments as well as our fee building reportable segment. We typically take orders for more homes in the first half of the fiscal year than in the second half, which creates additional working capital requirements in the second and third quarters to build our inventories to satisfy the deliveries in the second half of the year. Our revenues and cash flows (exclusive of the amount and timing of land purchases and land sales, if applicable) from homebuilding operations are generally higher in the second half of the calendar year, particularly in the fourth quarter. We expect this seasonal pattern to continue over the long-term, although it may be affected by volatility in the homebuilding industry. The homebuilding industry is cyclical. We continue to make investments in land, which is likely to utilize a significant portion of our cash resources, so long as we believe such investments will yield results that meet our investment criteria.

 

Labor and Raw Materials

 

Typically, the raw materials and most of the components used in our business are available in the United States. Most are standard items carried by major suppliers. However, our industry experiences shortages in both raw materials and labor from time to time. Increases in the cost of building materials and subcontracted labor may reduce gross margins from home sales to the extent that market conditions prevent the recovery of increased costs through higher home sales prices. These shortages and delays may result in delays in the delivery of homes under construction, reduced gross margins from home sales, or both. We continue to monitor the supply markets to achieve favorable prices. In addition, the imposition of tariffs on building materials frequently impacts the cost of construction and increases in costs may not be recovered by raising home prices due to affordability and market demand constraints.

 

Joint Ventures

 

Our joint venture strategy has assisted in leveraging our entity-level capital and establishing a homebuilding and land development platform focused on high-growth, land-constrained markets. We own interests in our unconsolidated joint ventures that generally range from 5% to 35%. We also earn management fees from such joint ventures.

 

We serve as the administrative member, general partner, manager or managing member of each of our six homebuilding and four land development joint ventures. We do not, however, exercise control over the joint ventures, as the joint venture agreements generally provide our respective partners with the right to consent to certain actions. Under most joint venture agreements, certain major decisions must be approved by the applicable joint venture’s executive committee, which is comprised of both our representatives and representatives of our joint venture partners. In addition, some of our joint venture agreements grant both partners a buy-sell right pursuant to which, subject to certain exceptions, either partner may initiate procedures requiring the other partner to choose between selling its interest to the other partner or buying the other partner’s interest. Additional information related to our unconsolidated joint ventures is set forth in Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements and Contractual Obligations."  For a further discussion of the risks associated with our joint ventures, please see the risk factor regarding our joint venture investments under the heading "Risks Related to Financing and Indebtedness."

 

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Fee Building Services

 

Although our primary business focus is building and selling homes for our own account, we also selectively provide general contracting, construction management and coordination services, sales and marketing services and escrow coordination services as part of agreements with third-parties and the Company's unconsolidated joint ventures. We refer to these projects as "fee building projects." For the year ended December 31, 2019, 96% of our fee building revenue represents billings to third-party land owners for general contracting and construction management services and 4% represents management fees from unconsolidated joint ventures and third-party land owners for construction and sales management services. Our services with respect to fee building projects may include design, development, construction, escrow, and sales and marketing services. We earn revenue on our fee building projects either as a flat fee for the project or as a percentage of the cost or revenue of the project depending upon the terms of the agreement with our customer. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, fee building revenue contributed to 14%, 24% and 25%, respectively, of total revenue.  The Company’s fee building revenues have historically been concentrated with a small number of customers.  We have several fee building agreements with Irvine Pacific, LP and revenues from this customer totaled 14%, 23%, and 25% of our total consolidated revenues for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Our billings to this customer are dependent upon such customer’s decision to proceed with construction and the agreements can be canceled at any time. We cannot predict whether these agreements will continue in the future or the current pace of construction, and the loss of these billings could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. See Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Results of Operations - Fee Building" and Note 1 "Revenue Recognition - Fee Building" to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of this revenue concentration.

 

Competition

 

The homebuilding industry is fragmented and highly competitive. We compete with numerous other residential construction companies, including large national and regional firms, for customers, land, financing, raw materials, skilled labor, and employees. A number of our primary competitors are significantly larger, have a longer operating history and may have greater resources or lower cost of capital than us. We compete for customers primarily on the basis of home design and location, price, customer satisfaction, construction quality, reputation, and the availability of mortgage financing. We also compete for sales with individual resales of existing homes and with available rental housing. In the past several years, we have embarked on a strategy to expand our product offerings to include more affordably-priced homes to reach a deeper pool of qualified buyers and in connection with growing our overall community count. We anticipate that we will continue to build more affordably-priced homes. We believe there is more competition among homebuilding companies in more affordable product offerings than in the luxury and move-up segments, however, we also believe this is a prudent strategy as there is a larger population of qualified buyers in more affordable price points. For risks associated with the competition we face, please see the risk factor under the heading "Risks Related to Our Business - We may not be able to compete effectively against competitors in the homebuilding industry".

 

Surety Bonds and Other Obligations
 
  In connection with the development of our communities, we are frequently required to provide performance, maintenance and other bonds and letters of credit in support of our related obligations with respect to such developments. The amount of such obligations outstanding at any time varies in accordance with our pending development activities. In the event any such bonds or letters of credit are drawn upon, we would be obligated to reimburse the issuer of such surety bonds or letters of credit. As of December 31, 2019, we had approximatel y $47.6 million and $ 0 of outstanding performance bonds and letters of credit, respectively, primarily related to our obligations to local governments to construct roads and other improvements in various developments.  Estimated cost to complete for surety bonds as of December 31, 2019 was $29.1 million.

 

Government Regulation and Environmental Matters

 

We are subject to numerous local, state and federal statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations concerning zoning, development, building design, construction and similar matters, which impose restrictive zoning and density requirements, the result of which is to limit the number of homes that can be built within the boundaries of a particular area. Communities that are not entitled may be subjected to periodic delays, changes in use, less intensive development or elimination of development in certain specific areas due to government regulations. We may also be subject to periodic delays or may be precluded entirely from developing in certain communities due to building moratoriums or "slow-growth" or "no-growth" initiatives that could be implemented in the future. Local governments also have broad discretion regarding the imposition of development fees and exactions for communities in their jurisdiction. Communities for which we have received land use and development entitlements or approvals may still require a variety of other governmental approvals and permits during the development process and can also be impacted adversely by unforeseen health, safety and welfare issues, which can further delay these communities or prevent their development.

 

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We are also subject to a variety of local, state and federal statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations concerning the environment. The particular environmental laws which apply to any given homebuilding site vary according to multiple factors, including the site’s location, its environmental conditions and the present and former uses of the site, as well as adjoining properties. Environmental laws and conditions may result in delays, may cause us to incur substantial compliance and other costs, and can prohibit or severely restrict homebuilding activity in environmentally sensitive regions or areas. In addition, in those cases where an endangered or threatened species is involved, environmental rules and regulations can result in the restriction or elimination of development in identified environmentally sensitive areas. Legislation related to climate change and energy efficiency can impose stricter building standards, which may increase our cost to build. From time to time, the EPA and similar federal or state agencies review homebuilders’ compliance with environmental laws and may levy fines and penalties for failure to strictly comply with applicable environmental laws or impose additional requirements for future compliance as a result of past failures. Any such actions taken with respect to us may increase our costs. Further, we expect that increasingly stringent requirements will be imposed on homebuilders in the future. Environmental regulations can also have an adverse impact on the availability and price of certain raw materials such as lumber. California, where we conduct most of our operations, is especially susceptible to restrictive government regulations and environmental laws.

 

Under various environmental laws, current or former owners of real estate, as well as certain other categories of parties, may be required to investigate and clean up hazardous or toxic substances or petroleum product releases, and may be held liable to a governmental entity or to third parties for related damages, including for bodily injury, and for investigation and clean-up costs incurred by such parties in connection with the contamination. A mitigation system may be installed during the construction of a home if a cleanup does not remove all contaminants of concern or to address a naturally occurring condition such as methane. Some buyers may not want to purchase a home with a mitigation system.

 

We manage compliance with environmental laws at the division level with assistance and oversight from our corporate office. As part of the land acquisition due diligence process, we utilize environmental assessments to identify environmental conditions that may exist on potential acquisition properties. To date, environmental assessments or our compliance with environmental laws and regulations has not had a material adverse effect on our operations, although it may do so in the future.

 

We use and our business relies upon general contractors' licenses and corporate real estate broker's licenses in order to build and sell homes.

 

For a further discussion of the impact of govern regulations on our business, including the impact of environmental regulations, please see the risk factors included under the heading "Risks Related to Laws and Regulations."

 

Environmental Impact and Sustainability
 

Homebuilding impacts the environment in a variety of ways, including through the use of water, gas and electricity, transportation of building materials, and the increase in density by constructing homes in areas that were previously undeveloped. However, our new homes utilize innovative technologies and systems to vastly improve the energy and water efficiency of our homes compared to resale homes. For example, beginning with all building permits issued after January 1, 2020,  all of our homes in California will be equipped with a solar electric system.  We believe that the standards for new home construction mitigate impacts to the environment by increasing home energy efficiency and reducing the impact of construction on the environment (such as limiting discharge of storm water and impacts to wetlands), all while addressing the serious need for housing in this country.

 

California is at the forefront when it comes to sustainability, including green energy, water conservation and efficient construction standards. As a builder with most of its operations in California, we have made a dedicated effort to implement a variety of sustainable best practices in many of our communities, including the masterplan communities which we and our joint venture partners have created. For example, our Cannery joint venture created a visionary farm-to-table new-home community, with a working urban farm operated by the Center for Land-Based Learning which serves as a training ground for beginning farmers while supplying the community with fresh seasonal produce. Non-potable water from an onsite agricultural well was designed to irrigate landscaped areas along roadways and within open-space greenbelts, parks and the urban farm. In addition, a 1.5 kV photovoltaic solar system and electric vehicle charging pre-wire was designed to come standard with every home, and residents could upgrade to net zero living. Similarly, our McKinley Village joint venture created the McKinley Village masterplan where each residence is pre-wired for solar and electric vehicle chargers. We believe our commitment to design and build energy-efficient homes is aligned with buyer sensitivities about how eco-friendly designs, features and materials help impact the environment and the livability of homes in addition to reducing cost of home ownership.

 

In January 2020, we launched "EVO Home Tech", our advanced home automation technology packages which provide our homebuyers with advanced connectivity and features such as smart light controls and thermostats to allow for more convenient control of energy consumption and increased sustainability.

 
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Health and Safety Matters

We strive to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees. We believe that corporate social responsibility is a significant factor for our overall success. This includes adopting ethical practices to direct how we do business while keeping the interests of our stakeholders and the environment in mind, including valuing and challenging the talented men and women who comprise our workforce. To that end, we have a comprehensive Code of Ethics and Business Conduct applicable to all employees and an actively-managed ethics hotline. We are also committed to maintaining high standards in health and safety at all of our sites. We have a health and safety audit system that includes comprehensive independent third-party inspections.  Our Risk Management team has a training system and a safety enforcement system in place in the field, which have led to an increase in safety awareness and effectiveness. 

Employees and Social Governance

 

As of December 31, 2019, we had 260 employees, 102 of whom were executive, management and administrative personnel located in our offices, 56 of whom were sales and marketing personnel and 102 were involved in field construction. Although none of our employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements, certain of the third party subcontractors and trade partners engaged by us are represented by labor unions or are subject to collective bargaining arrangements. We believe that relations with our employees, subcontractors and trade partners are good.

 

The Company is committed to creating and maintaining a community in which its employees are free from all forms of harassment and discrimination. We require employee training and protocols for preventing, reporting and addressing behavior that is not in line with our business standards, our core values, including, but not limited to, discriminatory or harassing behavior and sexual misconduct.

 

To ensure a positive and productive workplace, we proactively seek feedback from employees and continuously engage in two-way communication with our team members.  We conduct an annual employee engagement survey soliciting direct feedback from our employees utilizing a third party survey and analytics provider. Our most recent survey, from December 2019, had approximately 99% participation and reflected that approximately 91.2% of our employees are positively engaged, which was up from 90.3% in the 2018 survey. This score is based on affirmative responses to factors such as being proud to work for New Home, a willingness to recommend New Home, and achieving a feeling of personal accomplishment associated with the employee's work. Annually, our CEO shares results in person with all team members at divisional all-employee meetings and each division’s leader is tasked with identifying improvement plans. The insights gained from our employee engagement surveys have helped us drive significant improvements in the way our employees work and engage with one another.

 

The Company engages in a variety of learning and development opportunities with its employees. Examples of such opportunities include construction best practices training, education for managers on delivering performance feedback, and sales coaching programs. Regionally, department leaders host "lunch and learns" on topics such as the land acquisition process, design and architecture, reading construction plans, and training on the department of real estate rules and regulations for our project management teams. In addition, we offer all employees access to an online on-demand micro-learning platform with hundreds of courses on topics that include technology, communication, business acumen, leadership and personal growth.

 

Further, we believe it is important to treat all employees with dignity and respect. Employee diversity and inclusion are embraced and opportunities for training, growth, and advancement are strongly encouraged.

 

Our Offices and Available Information

 

Our principal executive offices are located at 85 Enterprise, Suite 450, Aliso Viejo, California 92656. Our main telephone number is (949) 382-7800. Our internet website is www.NWHM.com. Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: NWHM). We make available through the "Investors" section of our website our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to these reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(d) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as soon as reasonably practicable after filing with, or furnishing to, the SEC. Copies of these reports, and any amendment to them, are available free of charge upon request. We provide information about our business and financial performance, including our corporate profile, on our Investor Relations website. Additionally, we webcast our earnings calls and certain events we participate in with members of the investment community on our Investor Relations website. Further corporate governance information, including our Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, corporate governance guidelines, and board committee charters, is also available on our Investor Relations website. The information contained in, or that can be accessed through our website is not incorporated by reference and is not part of this annual report on Form 10-K.

 

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Item 1A.

Risk Factors

 

You should carefully consider the following risk factors, which address the material risks concerning our business, together with the other information contained in this annual report on Form 10-K. If any of the risks discussed in this annual report on Form 10-K occur, our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected, in which case the trading price of our common stock could decline significantly and you could lose part or all of your investment. Some statements in this annual report, including statements in the following risk factors, constitute forward-looking statements. Please refer to the initial section of this annual report entitled "Cautionary Note Concerning Forward-Looking Statements."

 

Risks Related to Our Business

 

Our geographic concentration may materially and adversely affect us if demand for housing or the availability of land parcels in our current markets declines.

 

Our current business involves the design, construction and sale of innovative single-family detached and attached homes in planned communities in major metropolitan areas in Southern California, metro Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay area and the greater Phoenix area. Because our operations are concentrated in these areas, a prolonged economic downturn affecting one or more of these areas, or affecting any sector of employment on which the residents of such area are dependent, or significant volatility in home prices and affordability could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations, and a disproportionately greater impact on us than other homebuilders with more diversified operations. During the downturn from 2007 to 2011, land values, the demand for new homes and home prices declined substantially in California. During the second half of fiscal 2018, demand for new homes, particularly in California, slowed which we believe stemmed from affordability concerns due to higher absolute home prices and higher interest rates. Buyer demand and order activity improved somewhat during 2019, but there is no assurance that order activity will continue to improve. As a homebuilder, we are often subject to market forces beyond our control. In general, housing demand is impacted by the affordability of housing. Many homebuyers need to sell their existing homes in order to purchase a new home from us, and a weakness in the home resale market could adversely affect that ability. If land values decrease or demand for new homes and home prices decline in California, our sales, results of operations, financial condition and business would be negatively impacted.

 

In addition, our ability to acquire land parcels for new single-family homes may be adversely affected by changes in the general availability of land parcels, the willingness of land sellers to sell land parcels at reasonable prices, competition for available land parcels, availability of financing to acquire land parcels, zoning and other market conditions. Our future growth depends upon our ability to successfully identify and acquire attractive land parcels for development of our single-family homes at reasonable prices and with terms that meet our underwriting criteria. We currently depend primarily on the California markets and availability of land parcels in our California markets at reasonable prices is limited. When the supply of land parcels appropriate for development of single-family homes is limited because of these factors, or for any other reason, our ability to grow is significantly limited. To the extent that we are unable to purchase land parcels timely or enter into new contracts for the purchase of land parcels at reasonable prices, our home sales revenue and results of operations would be adversely impacted.

 

The homebuilding industry is cyclical and affected by changes in general economic, real estate and other business conditions that could reduce the demand for new homes and, as a result, adversely impact our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.

 

The residential homebuilding industry is cyclical and is highly sensitive to changes in general economic, real estate and other business conditions such as levels of employment, consumer confidence and income, availability of mortgage financing for homebuyers, interest rate levels, demographic trends, homebuyer preferences for specific designs or locations, real estate taxes, inflation and supply of and demand for new and existing homes. The foregoing conditions, among others, are complex and interrelated. Periods of prolonged economic downturn, high unemployment levels, increases in the rate of inflation and uncertainty in the U.S. economy, have historically contributed to decreased demand for housing, declining sales prices and increasing pricing pressure. In the event that one or more of such economic and business conditions occur, we could experience declines in the market value of our inventory and demand for our homes, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations. Federal government actions, policies and new legislation related to economic stimulus, trade policies, taxation, spending levels and borrowing limits, along with the related political debates, conflicts and compromises associated with such actions, may negatively impact the financial markets and consumer confidence. Such events could hurt the U.S. economy and the housing market and, in turn, could adversely affect the operating results of our business. Adverse economic conditions outside the U.S., such as Asia or Canada, may also adversely affect the demand for our homes to the extent such conditions impact the amount of potential homebuyers from such regions in our markets.

 

In addition, an important segment of our customer base consists of first and second "move-up" buyers, who often purchase homes contingent upon the sale of their existing homes. During recessionary periods, these buyers may face difficulties selling their homes, which may in turn adversely affect our sales. Moreover, during such periods, we may need to reduce our sales prices and offer greater incentives to buyers to compete for sales that may result in reduced margins.

 

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Inventory risks are substantial for the homebuilding business. If the value of the land we purchase declines, we have, and may continue, to incur impairments on the carrying values of the real estate inventories we own, some of which could be significant and could adversely affect our business or financial results.

 

Inventory risks are substantial for our homebuilding business. There are risks inherent in controlling, owning and developing land as housing inventories are illiquid assets and if housing demand declines, we may own land or homesites we acquired at costs we will not be able to recover fully, or on which we cannot build and sell homes profitably. This is particularly true when entitled land becomes scarce, as it has recently, especially in the markets in which we build, and the cost of purchasing such land is relatively high. Factors such as changes in regulatory requirements and applicable laws (including in relation to building regulations, taxation and planning), political conditions, the condition of financial markets, both local and national economic conditions, the financial condition of customers, potentially adverse tax consequences, and interest and inflation rate fluctuations subject the market value of our land to uncertainty. Also, we own interests in joint ventures which own undeveloped land and lots for which there can be significant fluctuations in the value related to changes in market conditions. As a result, we may have to sell homes or land for lower than anticipated profit margins or we may have to record inventory impairment charges or sell land at a loss. For example, during fiscal year 2019, we recognized $8.3 million of homebuilding inventory impairments, $3.5 million of unconsolidated joint venture impairments, and recognized a $3.4 million loss on land sales (which included a $1.9 million impairment charge). For more information on impairments, please see Note 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements. We utilize option structures to purchase land in our wholly owned business which reduces our exposure to such fluctuations, but we may still be required to take significant write-offs of deposits and pre-acquisition costs if we elect not to exercise our options to purchase land. In addition, inventory carrying costs can be significant and can result in losses in a poorly performing project or market. We regularly review the value of our land holdings and continue to review our holdings on a periodic basis for indicators of impairment. Indicators of impairment include a decrease in demand for housing due to soft market conditions, competitive pricing pressures which reduce the average sales price of homes, which includes sales incentives for home buyers, sales absorption rates below management expectations, a decrease in the value of the underlying land and a decrease in projected cash flows for a particular project. Material impairment charges, abandonment charges or other write-downs of assets could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our ability to execute on our business strategies and initiatives is uncertain, and we may be unable to achieve our goals.

 

We may undertake various strategic initiatives as part of our business, such as our recent strategy to offer more affordable-priced homes or our potential entry into new markets. We have historically focused on second move up and luxury buyers and as a result of changing demographics and trends, have shifted our strategy to a heavier emphasis on entry level and first move up buyers. We have invested significant efforts to align our community offerings and designs to these buyers despite our experience in catering to a different buyer profile. We can provide no assurance (i) that our strategies, and any related initiatives or actions, will be successful or that they will generate growth, earnings or returns at any particular level or within any particular time frame; (ii) that in the future we will achieve positive operational or financial results or results in any particular metric or measure equal to or better than those attained in the past; or (iii) that we will perform in any period as well as other homebuilders. We also cannot provide any assurance that we will be able to maintain our strategies, and any related initiatives or actions, in the future and, due to unexpectedly favorable or unfavorable market conditions or other factors, we may determine that we need to adjust, refine or abandon all or portions of our strategies, and any related initiatives or actions, though we cannot guarantee that any such adjustments will be successful. The failure of any one or more of our present strategies, or any related initiatives or actions, or the failure of any adjustments that we may pursue or implement, would likely have an adverse effect on our ability to increase the value and profitability of our business; on our ability to operate our business in the ordinary course; on our overall liquidity; and on our consolidated financial statements, and the effect, in each case, could be material.

 

A reduction in our sales absorption levels may force us to incur and absorb additional community-level costs.

 

We incur certain overhead costs associated with our communities, such as indirect construction costs, property taxes, marketing expenses and costs associated with the upkeep and maintenance of our model and sales complexes, and interest costs. If our sales absorption pace decreases and the time required to close out our communities is extended, we would likely incur additional overhead costs, interest and other carrying costs, which would negatively impact our financial results. Additionally, we incur various land development improvement costs for a community prior to the commencement of home construction. Such costs include infrastructure, utilities, property taxes, HOA assessments, interest and other related expenses. Reduction in home absorption rates increases the associated holding costs and extends our time to recover such costs. Declines in the homebuilding market may also require us to evaluate the recoverability of costs relating to land acquired more recently.

 

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Labor and raw material shortages and price fluctuations could delay or increase the cost of home construction, which could materially and adversely affect us.

 

The residential construction industry experiences labor and raw material shortages from time to time, including shortages in qualified tradespeople, and supplies of insulation, drywall, cement, steel and lumber. These labor and raw material shortages can be more severe during periods of strong demand for housing or during periods where the regions in which we operate experience natural disasters that have a significant impact on existing residential and commercial structures. We and other homebuilders have encountered increases in costs of labor in materials, which is particularly acute in the markets in which we build in California and Arizona.  These increased costs are largely the result of shortages of skilled labor. The cost of labor and raw materials may also increase during periods of shortage or high inflation. Shortages and price increases could cause delays in and increase our costs of home construction, which we may not be able to recover by raising home prices due to market demand which puts downward pressure on our gross margins. As a result, shortages or increased costs of labor and raw materials could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

 

The federal government has recently imposed new or increased tariffs or duties on an array of imported materials and goods that are used in connection with the construction and delivery of our homes, including steel, aluminum, lumber, solar panels and washing machines, raising our costs for these items (or products made with them), and has threatened to impose further tariffs, duties and/or trade restrictions on imports. Increases in construction costs may not be recovered from raising home prices due to being constrained by market demand.  Foreign governments, including China and Canada, and the European Union, have responded by imposing or increasing tariffs, duties and/or trade restrictions on U.S. goods, and are reportedly considering other measures. These trading conflicts and related escalating governmental actions that result in additional tariffs, duties and/or trade restrictions could increase our construction costs further, cause disruptions or shortages in our supply chains and/or negatively impact the U.S., regional or local economies, and, individually or in the aggregate, materially and adversely affect our business and our consolidated financial statements.

 

Our business and results of operations depend on the availability and skill of subcontractors at reasonable rates.

 

Substantially all of our construction work is done by third-party subcontractors with us acting as the general contractor. Accordingly, the timing and quality of our construction depend on the availability and skill of our subcontractors. We do not have long-term contractual commitments with any subcontractors, and there can be no assurance that skilled subcontractors will continue to be available at reasonable rates and in the areas in which we conduct our operations. Certain of the subcontractors engaged by us are represented by labor unions or are subject to collective bargaining arrangements that require the payment of prevailing wages that are higher than normally expected on a residential construction site. A strike or other work stoppage involving any of our subcontractors could also make it difficult for us to retain subcontractors for our construction work. In addition, union activity could result in higher costs to retain our subcontractors. Access to qualified labor at reasonable rates may also be affected by other circumstances beyond our control, including: (i) shortages of qualified tradespeople, such as carpenters, roofers, drywallers, electricians and plumbers; (ii) high inflation; (iii) changes in laws relating to employment and union organizing activity; (iv) changes in trends in labor force migration; (v) increases in contractor, subcontractor and professional services costs; and (vi) changes in immigration laws and policies as well as changes in immigration trends. In particular, changes in federal and state immigration laws and policies, or in the enforcement of current laws and policies, may have the effect of increasing our labor costs. The lack of adequate supply of skilled labor or a significant increase in labor costs could materially and adversely affect our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

 

In addition, the enactment of federal, state or local statutes, ordinances, rules or regulations requiring the payment of prevailing wages on private residential developments would materially increase our costs of development and construction. For example, California, where we conduct most of our business, generally requires that workers employed on public works projects in California be paid the applicable prevailing wage, as determined by the Department of Industrial Relations. Private residential projects built on private property are exempt unless the project is built pursuant to an agreement with a state agency, redevelopment agency, or local public housing authority. In 2017, the California legislature made this exemption inapplicable to a project built pursuant to an agreement with a successor agency of a redevelopment agency. We expect that the imposition of a prevailing wage requirement to additional types of projects would materially increase our costs of development and construction for those projects. Further extensions of prevailing wage requirements to private projects could materially and adversely affect our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Furthermore, despite our quality control efforts, we may discover that our subcontractors were engaging in improper construction practices or installing defective materials in our homes. When we discover these issues, we, generally through our subcontractors, repair the homes in accordance with our new home warranty and as required by law. Reserves are established based on market practices, our historical experiences and our judgment of the qualitative risks associated with the types of homes built. However, the cost of satisfying our warranty and other legal obligations in these instances may be significantly higher than our reserves, and we may be unable to recover the cost of repair from such subcontractors. Regardless of the steps we take, we can in some instances be subject to fines, litigation, or other penalties, and our reputation and our financial condition may be adversely affected.

 

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We are subject to construction defect, warranty, and personal injury claims arising in the ordinary course of business that can be significant and could adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.

 

As a homebuilder, we are subject to construction defect, product liability and home warranty claims, arising in the ordinary course of business or otherwise. We maintain reserves to cover the resolution of our potential liabilities associated with known and anticipated warranty and construction defect related claims and litigation.  While we maintain reserves and general liability insurance and generally seek to require our subcontractors and design professionals to indemnify us for some portion of the liabilities arising from their work, there can be no assurance that these insurance rights and indemnities will be collectible or adequate to cover any or all construction defect and warranty claims for which we may be liable. Some claims may not be covered by insurance or may exceed applicable coverage limits. We may not be able to renew our insurance coverage or renew it at reasonable rates and may incur significant costs or expenses (including repair costs and litigation expenses) surrounding possible construction defects, product liability claims, soil subsidence or building related claims.  Some claims may arise out of uninsurable events or circumstances not covered by insurance or that are not subject to effective indemnification agreements with our trade partners. In addition, we typically act as the general contractor for the homes we build for third party landowners on fee, including our unconsolidated joint ventures. In connection with these agreements, we indemnify the landowner for liabilities arising from our work. While we are covered by general liability insurance, procured either by us or the landowner, and we generally seek to require our subcontractors to indemnify us for some portion of the liabilities arising from their work, there can be no assurance that these indemnities will be collectible and some claims may arise out of uninsurable events or circumstances not covered by insurance. Furthermore, most insurance policies have some level of a self insured retention that we are required to satisfy in order to access the underlying insurance which levels can be significant. Any such claims or self insured retentions can be costly and could result in significant liability.

    

With respect to certain general liability exposures, including construction defects and related claims and product liability claims, interpretation of underlying current and future trends, assessment of claims and the related liability and reserve estimation process require us to exercise significant judgment due to the complex nature of these exposures, with each exposure often exhibiting unique circumstances. Furthermore, once claims are asserted against us for construction defects, it is difficult to determine the extent to which the assertion of these claims will expand. Plaintiffs may seek to consolidate multiple parties in one lawsuit or seek class action status in some of these legal proceedings with potential class sizes that vary from case to case. Consolidated and class action lawsuits can be costly to defend and, if we were to lose any consolidated or certified class action suit, it could result in substantial liability.

    

We also expend significant resources to repair items in homes we have sold to fulfill the warranties we issued to our homebuyers. Additionally, construction defect claims can be costly to defend and resolve in the legal system. Warranty and construction defect matters can also result in negative publicity in the media and on the internet, which can damage our reputation and adversely affect our ability to sell homes.

 

In addition, we conduct most of our business in California, one of the most highly regulated and litigious jurisdictions in the United States, which imposes a ten year, strict liability tail on many construction liability claims. As a result, our potential losses and expenses due to litigation, new laws and regulations may be greater than those of our competitors who have smaller California operations as a percentage of the total enterprise.

 

We may not be able to compete effectively against competitors in the homebuilding industry.

 

We operate in a very competitive environment which is characterized by competition from a number of other homebuilders in each market in which we operate. Additionally, there are relatively low barriers to entry into our business. We compete with numerous large national and regional homebuilding companies and with smaller local homebuilders and land developers for, among other things, home buyers, desirable land parcels, financing, raw materials and skilled management and labor resources. Our competitors may independently develop land and construct homes that are superior or substantially similar to our products. Over the past several years, we have expanded our product offerings to include more affordably-priced homes to reach a deeper pool of qualified buyers and grow our overall community count. We believe there is more competition among homebuilding companies in more affordable product offerings than in the luxury and move-up segments. Increased competition could hurt our business, as it could prevent us from acquiring attractive land parcels on which to build homes or make such acquisitions more expensive, hinder our market share expansion and cause us to increase our selling incentives or reduce our prices. In past housing cycles, an oversupply of homes available for sale and heavy discounting of home prices by some of our competitors have adversely affected demand for homes in the market as a whole and could do so again in the future. We also compete with the resale, or "previously owned," home market. If we are unable to compete effectively in our markets, our business could decline disproportionately to our competitors, and our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.

 

We may be at a competitive disadvantage with regard to certain of our large national and regional homebuilding competitors whose operations are more geographically diversified than ours, as these competitors may be better able to withstand any future regional downturn in the housing market. We compete directly with a number of large national and regional homebuilders that may have longer operating histories and greater financial and operational resources than we do, including a lower cost of capital. Many of these competitors also have longstanding relationships with subcontractors, local governments and suppliers in the markets in which we operate or in which we may operate in the future. This may give our competitors an advantage in securing materials and labor at lower prices, marketing their products and allowing their homes to be delivered to customers more quickly and at more favorable prices. This competition could reduce our market share and limit our ability to expand our business as we have planned.

 

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Inefficient or ineffective allocation of capital, including from efforts to invest in future growth or expansion of our operations or acquisitions of businesses, could adversely affect our operations and/or stockholder value if expected benefits are not realized.

 

As a part of our business strategy, we may consider growth or expansion of our operations in our current markets or in other areas of the country. Any such growth or expansion would be accompanied by risks such as:

 

 

difficulties in assimilating the operations and personnel of acquired companies or businesses;

 

potential loss of key employees of the acquired companies or business;

 

diversion of our management’s attention from ongoing business concerns;

 

our potential inability to maximize our financial and strategic position through the successful expansion or acquisition;

 

impairment of existing relationships with employees, contractors, suppliers and customers as a result of the integration of new management personnel and cost-saving initiatives; and

 

risks associated with entering markets in which we have limited or no direct experience.

 

The magnitude, timing and nature of any future acquisition or expansion will depend on a number of factors, including our ability to identify suitable additional markets or acquisition candidates as well as capital resources. We cannot guarantee that any expansion into a new market will be successfully executed, and our failure to do so could harm our current business.

 

Furthermore, we may engage in other capital actions such as repurchasing our common stock or Senior Notes from time to time to reduce our indebtedness. While our goal is to allocate capital to maximize our overall long-term returns, if we do not properly allocate our capital, we may fail to produce optimal financial results and we may experience a reduction in stockholder value, including increased volatility in our stock price.

 

If we are unable to develop our communities successfully or within expected timeframes, our results of operations could be adversely affected.

 

Before a community generates any revenue, time and material expenditures are required to acquire land, obtain development approvals and construct significant portions of project infrastructure, amenities, model homes and sales facilities. It can take several years from the time we acquire control of a property to the time we make our first home sale on the site. Our ability to process a significant number of transactions (which include, among other things, evaluating the site purchase, designing the layout of the development, sourcing materials and subcontractors and managing contractual commitments) efficiently and accurately is important to our success. Changes in law or regulation, including changes to FHA or other lending program guidelines for project approvals, local discretionary approvals, natural disasters, availability of subcontractors, errors by employees, failure to comply with regulatory requirements and conduct of business rules, failings or inadequacies in internal control processes, equipment failures or the failure of external systems, including those of our suppliers or counterparties, could result in delays and operational issues that could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results and our relationships with our customers. Delays in the development of communities also expose us to the risk of changes in market conditions for homes. A decline in our ability to develop and market our communities successfully and to generate positive cash flow from these operations in a timely manner could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations and on our ability to service our debt and to meet our working capital requirements.

 

Increases in our cancellation rate could have a negative impact on our home sales revenue, homebuilding margins and cash flows.

 

In connection with the sale of a home we collect a deposit from the homebuyer that is a small percentage of the total purchase price. In California, upon a home order cancellation, the homebuyer’s escrow deposit is generally returned to the homebuyer (other than with respect to certain design-related deposits, which we generally retain). In Arizona, we generally retain buyer deposits following a home order cancellation. Home order cancellations can result from a number of factors, including declines or slow appreciation in the market value of homes, increases in the supply of homes available to be purchased, increased competition, higher mortgage interest rates, and changes in homebuyers' financial condition or personal circumstances. In addition, as part of our strategy, we intend to increase the number of homes we build at more affordable price points. Our cancellation rate may increase as we sell to a more diverse credit quality of buyers. Home order cancellations negatively impact our financial and operating results due to a negative impact on the number of homes closed, net new home orders, home sales revenue, results of operations and cash flows, as well as the number of homes in backlog.

 

A large proportion of our fee building revenue is from one customer.

 

The Company’s fee building revenues have historically been concentrated with a small number of customers.  We have several fee building agreements with Irvine Pacific, LP and our billings to this customer are dependent upon such customer’s decision to proceed with construction and the agreements can be canceled at any time. We cannot predict whether these agreements will continue in the future or the current pace of construction, and the loss of these billings could negatively impact our business and our results of operations. See Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Results of Operations - Fee Building" and Note 1 "Revenue Recognition - Fee Building" to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of this revenue concentration.

 

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We could be responsible for employment-related liabilities with respect to our contractors’ employees.

 

Although contractors are independent of the homebuilders that contract with them under normal management practices and the terms of trade contracts and subcontracts within the homebuilding industry, if regulatory agencies reclassify the employees of contractors as employees of homebuilders, homebuilders using contractors could be responsible for wage and hour labor laws, workers’ compensation and other employment-related liabilities of their contractors. Governmental rulings that make us responsible for labor practices by our subcontractors could create substantial exposures for us in situations that are not within our control.  Even if we are not deemed joint employers with our contractors, we are, and may become in the future, subject to similar measures and legislation, such as California Labor Code Section 2810.3, that requires us to share liability with our contractors for the payment of wages and the failure to secure valid workers’ compensation insurance coverage. In addition, California law makes direct contractors liable for wages, fringe benefits, or other benefit payments or contributions owed by a subcontractor that does not fulfill these obligations to its employees.  While the Company ordinarily negotiates with its subcontractors to obtain broad indemnification rights, there is no guarantee that it will be able to recover from its subcontractors for actions brought against the Company by its subcontractors’ employees or unions representing such employees and such liability could have a material and adverse effect on our financial position or results of operations.  

 

Adverse weather and geological conditions may increase costs, cause project delays and reduce consumer demand for housing, all of which could materially and adversely affect us.

 

As a homebuilder and land developer, we are subject to the risks associated with numerous weather-related and geologic events, many of which are beyond our control. These weather-related and geologic events include but are not limited to droughts, floods, wildfires, landslides, soil subsidence and earthquakes. The occurrence of any of these events could damage our land parcels and projects, cause delays in the completion of our projects, reduce consumer demand for housing and cause shortages and price increases in labor or raw materials, any of which could harm our sales and profitability. Our California markets are in areas which have historically experienced significant earthquake activity, seasonal wildfires, droughts and water shortages. In addition to directly damaging our land or projects, earthquakes, floods, landslides, wildfires or other geologic events could damage roads and highways providing access to those projects, thereby adversely affecting our ability to market homes in those areas and possibly increasing the costs of completion.

 

There are some risks of loss for which we may be unable to purchase insurance coverage. For example, losses associated with landslides, earthquakes and other geologic events may not be insurable, and other losses, such as those arising from terrorism, may not be economically insurable. A sizeable uninsured loss could materially and adversely affect our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Power, water and other natural resource shortages, including drought conditions and wildfires, or price increases could have an adverse impact on operations.

 

The markets in which we operate have experienced power and resource shortages, including mandatory periods without electrical power, changes to water availability (including drought conditions) and significant increases in utility and resource costs. These conditions may cause us to incur additional costs and we may not be able to complete construction on a timely basis if they were to continue for an extended period of time. Shortages of natural resources, particularly water and power, may make it more difficult to obtain regulatory approval of new developments. We may incur additional costs and may not be able to complete construction on a timely basis if such power shortages and utility rate increases continue. We can experience significant delays due to utility company constraints which may be outside our control. For example, in January 2019, in response to potential liabilities arising from a series of recent catastrophic wildfires in Northern California, PG&E Corporation, a major gas and electric utility company servicing various geographic markets, including Northern California, initiated voluntary bankruptcy proceedings, which has, in many cases, resulted in service disruptions, or constraints or delays in providing such utilities in the markets in which PG&E Corporation currently operates. Furthermore, water restrictions, drought conditions, power shortages and rate increases may adversely affect the regional economies and the environment in which we operate, as well as increase greatly the risk of wildfires, which may both reduce demand for housing and damage our inventory currently under construction. Our operations may be adversely impacted if further restrictions, drought conditions, wildfires, rate increases and/or power shortages occur.

    

Because of the seasonal nature of our business, our quarterly operating results fluctuate.

 

As discussed under "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition-Seasonality" we have experienced seasonal fluctuations in our quarterly operating results and capital requirements that can have a material impact on our results and our consolidated financial statements.  We typically experience the highest new home order activity in late winter and spring, although this activity also highly depends on the number of active selling communities, timing of new community openings and other market factors.  Since it typically takes five to ten months to construct a new home, depending on the nature of the product and whether it is single-family detached or multi-family attached, we typically deliver more homes in the second half of the year as late winter and spring home orders convert to home deliveries.  Because of this seasonality, home starts, construction costs and related cash outflows have historically been highest in the second and third quarters, and the majority of cash receipts from home deliveries occur during the second half of the year, particularly in the fourth quarter.  We expect this seasonal pattern to continue over the long-term, although it may be affected by volatility in the homebuilding industry and the opening and closeout of communities.

 

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Seasonality also requires us to finance construction activities in advance of the receipt of sales proceeds. In many cases, we may not be able to recapture increased costs by raising prices because prices are established upon signing the purchase contract. Accordingly, there is a risk that we will invest significant amounts of capital in the acquisition and development of land and construction of homes that we do not sell at anticipated pricing levels or within anticipated time frames. If, due to market conditions, construction delays or other causes, we do not complete sales of our homes at anticipated pricing levels or within anticipated time frames, our financial performance and financial conditions could be materially and adversely affected.

 

We may be unable to obtain suitable bonding for the development of our housing projects.

 

We are often required to provide bonds to governmental authorities and others to ensure the completion of our projects. As a result of market conditions, surety providers have been reluctant to issue new bonds and some providers are requesting credit enhancements (such as cash deposits or letters of credit) in order to maintain existing bonds or to issue new bonds. If we are unable to obtain required bonds in the future for our projects, or if we are required to provide credit enhancements with respect to our current or future bonds, our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Inflation could adversely affect our business and financial results.

 

Inflation could adversely affect us by increasing the costs of land, raw materials and labor needed to operate our business, which in turn requires us to increase our home selling price in an effort to maintain satisfactory housing gross margins. Inflation typically also accompanies higher interests rates, which could adversely impact potential customers’ ability to obtain financing on favorable terms, thereby further decreasing demand. If we are unable to raise the prices of our homes to offset the increasing costs of our operations, our margins could decrease. Furthermore, if we need to lower the price of our homes to meet demand, the value of our land inventory may decrease. Depressed land values may cause us to abandon and forfeit deposits on land option contracts and other similar contracts if we cannot satisfactorily renegotiate the purchase price of the subject land. We may record charges against our earnings for inventory impairments if the value of our owned inventory, including land we decide to sell, is reduced, or for land option contract abandonments if we choose not to exercise land option contracts or other similar contracts, and these charges may be substantial. Inflation may also raise our costs of capital and decrease our purchasing power, making it more difficult to maintain sufficient funds to operate our business.

 

A major health and safety incident relating to our business could be costly in terms of potential liabilities and reputational damage.

 

Building sites are inherently dangerous, and operating in the homebuilding industry poses certain inherent health and safety risks to those working at such sites. Due to health and safety regulatory requirements and the number of projects we work on, health and safety performance is critical to the success of all areas of our business. Any failure in health and safety performance may result in penalties for non-compliance with relevant regulatory requirements or litigation, and a failure that results in a major or significant health and safety incident is likely to be costly in terms of potential liabilities incurred as a result. Such a failure could generate significant negative publicity and have a corresponding impact on our reputation, our relationships with relevant regulatory agencies, governmental authorities and local communities, and our ability to win new business, which in turn could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

    

Negative publicity or poor relations with the residents of our communities could negatively impact sales, which could cause our revenues or results of operations to decline.

 

Unfavorable media related to our industry, company, brands, marketing, personnel, operations, business performance, or prospects may affect our stock price and the performance of our business, regardless of its accuracy or inaccuracy. Our success in maintaining, extending and expanding our brand image depends on our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing media environment. Adverse publicity or negative commentary on social media outlets, such as blogs, websites or newsletters, could hurt operating results, as consumers might avoid or protest brands that receive bad press or negative reviews.  Negative publicity may result in a decrease in our operating results.

 

In addition, residents of communities we develop may look to us to resolve issues or disputes that may arise in connection with the operation or development of their communities. Efforts made by us to resolve these issues or disputes could be deemed unsatisfactory by the affected residents, and subsequent actions by these residents could adversely affect sales or our reputation.

 

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Failure to comply with privacy laws or an information systems interruption or breach in security that releases personal identifying  information or other confidential information could adversely affect us.

 

Privacy, security, and compliance concerns have continued to increase as technology has evolved.  We use information technology and other computer resources to carry out important operational and marketing activities and to maintain our business records. Furthermore, as part of our normal business activities, we collect and store personal identifying information, including information about employees, homebuyers, customers, vendors and suppliers and may share information with vendors who assist us with certain aspects of our business. The regulatory environment in California and throughout the U.S. surrounding information security and privacy is increasingly demanding. We may share some of this confidential information with our vendors, such as escrow companies and related title services enterprises, who partner with us to support certain aspects of our business. The information technology systems we use are dependent upon global communications providers, web browsers, third-party software and data storage providers and other aspects of the Internet infrastructure that have experienced security breaches, cyber-attacks, ransomware attacks, significant systems failures and service outages in the past. A material breach in the security of our information technology systems or other data security controls could include the theft or release of customer, employee, vendor or company data. A data security breach, a significant and extended disruption in the functioning of our information technology systems or a breach of any of our data security controls could disrupt our business operations, damage our reputation and cause us to lose customers, adversely impact our sales and revenue and require us to incur significant expense to address and remediate or otherwise resolve these kinds of issues. The release of confidential information as a result of a security breach could also lead to litigation or other proceedings against us by affected individuals or business partners, or by regulators, and the outcome of such proceedings, which could include penalties or fines, could have a significant negative impact on our business. We may also be required to incur significant costs to protect against damages caused by information technology failures or security breaches in the future. We provide employee awareness training of cybersecurity threats and routinely utilize information technology consultants to assist us in our evaluations of the effectiveness of the security of our information technology systems, and we regularly enhance our security measures to protect our systems and data. However, because methods used to obtain unauthorized access, disable or degrade systems evolve frequently and often are not recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these attacks or to implement adequate preventative measures. Consequently, we cannot eliminate the risk that a security breach, cyber-attack, ransomware attack, data theft or other significant systems or security failures will occur in the future, and such occurrences could have a material and adverse effect on our consolidated results of operations or financial position. In addition, the cost and operational consequences of implementing further data or system protection measure could be significant and our efforts to deter, identify, mitigate and/or eliminate any security breaches or incidents may not be successful.

 

Risks Related to Laws and Regulations

 

Mortgage financing, interest rate increases or changes in federal lending programs or other regulations could lower demand for or impact homebuyers’ ability to purchase our homes, which could materially and adversely affect us.

 

A substantial percentage of purchasers of our homes finance their acquisitions with mortgage financing. Rising interest rates, decreased availability of mortgage financing or of certain mortgage programs, higher down payment requirements, increased monthly mortgage costs, tightened credit requirements and underwriting standards, and an increase in indemnity claims for mortgages may lead to reduced demand for our homes and mortgage loans. In addition, as a result of the turbulence in the credit markets and mortgage finance industry during the last significant downturn, in July 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law. This legislation provides for a number of new requirements relating to residential mortgages and mortgage lending practices that reduce the availability of loans to borrowers or increase the costs to borrowers to obtain such loans. Fewer loan products and tighter loan qualifications, in turn, make it more difficult for a borrower to finance the purchase of a new home or the purchase of an existing home from a potential "move-up" buyer who wishes to purchase one of our homes. If, due to credit or consumer lending market conditions, regulatory requirements, or other factors or business decisions, these lenders refuse or are unable to provide mortgage loans to the Company's buyers, the number of homes that the Company delivers, the Company's business and its consolidated financial statements may be materially and adversely affected. The foregoing may also hinder our ability to realize our backlog because our home purchase contracts provide customers with a financing contingency. Financing contingencies allow customers to cancel their home purchase contracts in the event that they cannot arrange for adequate financing. As a result, rising interest rates, stricter underwriting standards, and a reduction of loan products, among other similar factors, can contribute to a decrease in our home sales. Any of these factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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The federal government has also taken on a significant role in supporting mortgage lending through its conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of which purchase home mortgages and mortgage-backed securities originated by mortgage lenders, and its insurance of mortgages originated by lenders through the Federal Housing Administration, or the FHA, and the Veterans Administration, or the VA. The availability and affordability of mortgage loans, including interest rates for such loans, could be adversely affected by a curtailment or cessation of the federal government’s mortgage-related programs or policies. The FHA may continue to impose stricter loan qualification standards, raise minimum down payment requirements, impose higher mortgage insurance premiums and other costs, or limit the number of mortgages it insures. The FHA also limits the number of FHA loans within any one community, requires completion of entire buildings in which our units are located prior to allowing project approval application to be submitted, which can delay our ability to deliver completed homes in a timely manner and negatively impacting our results.  Due to federal budget deficits or political efforts to eliminate government sponsorship, the U.S. Treasury may not be able to continue supporting the mortgage-related activities of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA and the VA at present levels, or it may revise significantly the federal government’s participation in and support of the residential mortgage market. Because the availability of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and VA-backed mortgage financing is an important factor in marketing and selling many of our homes, especially as we move down in price point, any limitations, restrictions or changes in the availability of such government-backed financing could reduce our home sales, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Changes in tax laws can increase the after-tax cost of owning a home, and further tax law changes or government fees could adversely affect demand for the homes we build, increase our costs, or negatively affect our operating results.

 

Under previous tax law, certain significant expenses of owning a home, including mortgage loan interest costs and real estate taxes, generally were deductible expenses for the purpose of calculating an individual’s federal, and in some cases state, tax liability. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the "Tax Act") signed into law on December 22, 2017 now limits these deductions for some individuals. The Tax Act caps individual state and local tax deductions at $10,000 for the aggregate of state and local real property and income taxes or state and local sales taxes. Additionally, the Tax Act reduces the cap on mortgage interest deduction to $750,000 of debt for debt incurred after December 15, 2017 while retaining the $1 million debt cap for debt incurred prior to December 15, 2017. The limits on deductibility of mortgage interest and property taxes may increase the after-tax cost of owning a home for some individuals. 

 

Any increases in personal income tax rates and/or additional tax deduction limits could adversely impact demand for new homes, including homes we build, which could adversely affect our results of operations. Furthermore, increases in real estate taxes and other local government fees, such as fees imposed on developers to fund schools, open space, and road improvements, and/or provide low- and moderate-income housing, could increase our costs and have an adverse effect on our operations. We also benefit from the availability of various deductions and tax credits.  For example, in December 2019, energy tax credits were extended through 2020 and retroactively applied to properties sold after December 31, 2017.  Elimination of such credits or deductions could negatively impact our financial results.  In addition, increases in local real estate taxes as well as the limitation on deductibility of such costs could adversely affect our potential home buyers, who may consider those costs in determining whether to make a new home purchase and decide, as a result, not to purchase one of our homes or not purchase a resale, which would negatively impact homebuyers that need to sell their home before they purchase one of ours.

 

We may not be able to generate sufficient taxable income to fully realize our net deferred tax asset.

 

At December 31, 2019, we had a net deferred tax asset of $17.5 million, of which $3.8 million is related to net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards from prior periods, and the remaining $13.7 million related to the timing of the recognition of various expenses which were deducted from book income but are not deductible for income tax purposes until actually paid or realized.  Federal net operating losses may be carried forward indefinitely; however, the loss can only be utilized to offset 80% of taxable income generated in a tax year.  Our state net operating loss may be carried forward 20 years and will expire in 2039, unless previously utilized.  Federal tax credit carryforwards of $1.6 million begin to expire in 2039.  If we are unable to generate future sufficient taxable income, we will not be able to realize the full amount of the deferred tax asset. We regularly review our deferred tax asset for recoverability and establish a valuation allowance if it is more likely than not that some portion or all of a deferred tax asset will not be realized.  Our projections of future taxable income required to fully realize the recorded amount of the gross deferred tax asset reflect numerous assumptions about our operating businesses and investments and are subject to change as conditions change specific to our business units, investments or general economic conditions. Changes that are adverse to us could result in the need to increase the deferred tax asset valuation allowance resulting in a charge to results of operations and a decrease to stockholders’ equity.

 

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New and existing laws and regulations, including environmental laws and regulations, or other governmental actions may increase our expenses, limit the number of homes that we can build, delay the completion of our projects, or otherwise negatively impact our operations.

 

We are subject to numerous local, state, federal and other statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations concerning zoning, development, building design, construction, accessibility, anti-discrimination, and similar matters which affect the housing industry such as by imposing restrictive zoning and density requirements, which can limit the number of homes that can be built within the boundaries of a particular area, among other things. Governmental regulation affects construction activities as well as sales activities, mortgage lending activities, and other dealings with home buyers, including anti-discrimination laws such as the Fair Housing Act and data privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act.  Projects that are not entitled may be subjected to periodic delays, changes in use, less intensive development or elimination of development in certain specific areas due to government regulations. We may also be subject to periodic delays or may be precluded entirely from developing in certain communities due to building moratoriums or "slow-growth" or "no-growth" initiatives that could be implemented in the future. Local governments also have broad discretion regarding the imposition of development fees, assessments and exactions for projects in their jurisdiction. Projects for which we have received land use and development entitlements or approvals may still require a variety of other governmental approvals and permits during the development process and can also be impacted adversely by unforeseen health, safety and welfare issues, which can further delay these projects or prevent their development. As a result, home sales could decline and costs could increase, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We are also subject to a significant number and variety of local, state and federal laws and regulations concerning protection of health, safety, labor standards and the environment. The particular environmental laws which apply to any given property vary according to multiple factors, including the property’s location, its environmental conditions and geographic attributes or historical artifacts, the present and former uses of the property, the presence or absence of endangered plants, animals or sensitive habitats, as well as conditions at nearby properties. Environmental laws and conditions may result in delays, may cause us to incur substantial compliance and other costs and can delay, prohibit or severely restrict development and homebuilding activity in environmentally sensitive regions or areas. For example, under certain environmental laws and regulations, third parties, such as environmental groups or neighborhood associations, may challenge the permits and other approvals required for our projects and operations. Any such claims may adversely affect our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations. Insurance coverage for such claims may be limited or non-existent.

 

In addition, in those cases where an endangered or threatened species is involved and agency rulemaking and litigation are ongoing, the outcome of such rulemaking and litigation can be unpredictable, and at any time can result in unplanned or unforeseeable restrictions on or even the prohibition of development in identified environmentally sensitive areas. From time to time, the EPA and similar federal, state or local agencies review land developers’ and homebuilders’ compliance with environmental laws and may levy fines and penalties for failure to strictly comply with applicable environmental laws, including those applicable to control of storm water discharges during construction, or impose additional requirements for future compliance as a result of past failures. Any such actions taken with respect to us may increase our costs and result in project delays. We expect that increasingly stringent requirements will be imposed on land developers and homebuilders in the future. Environmental regulations can also have an adverse impact on the availability and price of certain raw materials such as lumber, and on other building materials.

 

California is especially susceptible to restrictive government regulations and environmental laws. For example, California imposes notification obligations respecting environmental conditions, sometimes recorded on deeds, and also those required to be delivered to persons accessing property or to home buyers or renters, which may cause some persons, or their financing sources, to view the subject parcels as less valuable or as impaired.

 

Under various environmental laws, current or former owners of real estate, as well as certain other categories of parties, may be required to investigate and clean up hazardous or toxic substances or petroleum product releases, and may be held liable to a governmental entity or to third parties for related damages, including for bodily injury, and for investigation and clean-up costs incurred by such parties in connection with the contamination.

 

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Changes in global or regional climate conditions and legislation relating to energy and climate change could increase our costs to construct homes.

 

Projected climate change, if it occurs, may exacerbate the scarcity or presence of water and other natural resources in affected regions, which could limit, prevent or increase the costs of residential development in certain areas. There is a variety of new legislation being enacted, or considered for enactment at the federal, state and local level relating to energy, emissions and climate change. This legislation relates to items such as carbon dioxide emissions control and building codes that impose energy efficiency standards.  New building code requirements, including California's solar mandate that went into effect in 2020, that impose stricter energy efficiency standards that have increased our cost to construct homes and we may be unable to fully recover such costs due to market conditions, which could cause a reduction in our homebuilding gross margin and materially and adversely effect our results of operations.  As climate change concerns continue to grow, legislation and regulations of this nature are expected to continue and become more costly to comply with. This is a particular concern in the western United States, where some of the most extensive and stringent environmental laws and residential building construction standards in the country have been enacted. For example, California has enacted the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. As a result, California has adopted and is expected to continue to adopt significant regulations to meet this goal. Similarly, energy-related initiatives affect a wide variety of companies throughout the United States and the world and because our operations are heavily dependent on significant amounts of raw materials, such as lumber, steel, and concrete, they could have an indirect adverse impact on our operations and profitability to the extent the manufacturers and suppliers of our materials are burdened with expensive cap and trade and similar energy-related regulations.

 

Risks Related to Financing and Indebtedness

 

Difficulty in obtaining sufficient capital could prevent us from acquiring land for our developments or increase costs and delays in the completion of our development projects.

 

The homebuilding and land development industry is capital-intensive and requires significant up-front expenditures to acquire land parcels and complete development. We cannot assure you that we will maintain cash reserves and generate sufficient cash flow from operations in an amount to enable us to service our debt or to fund other liquidity needs. Additionally, while we have issued $325 million (of which $308 million is outstanding at December 31, 2019) in aggregate principal amount of 7.25% Senior Notes due 2022 (the "Notes") and debt commitments of $130 million under our unsecured revolving credit facility ("Credit Facility"), our ability and capacity to borrow under the Credit Facility is limited by our asset based borrowing base and our ability to meet the covenants of the facility. In addition, our senior notes contain certain restrictions on our business, including the incurrence of additional debt under certain circumstances. If our Notes, Credit Facility and internally generated funds are insufficient to cover our liquidity needs, we may seek additional capital in the form of equity or debt financing from a variety of potential sources, including additional bank financings, formation of joint venture relationships or securities offerings. The availability of borrowed funds, especially for land acquisition and construction financing, may be greatly reduced nationally, and the lending community may require increased amounts of equity to be invested in a project by borrowers in connection with both new loans and the extension of existing loans. If we are required to seek additional financing to fund our operations, continued volatility in these markets may restrict our flexibility to access such financing. If we are not successful in obtaining sufficient capital to fund our planned capital and other expenditures, we may be unable to acquire land for our housing developments or to develop the land and construct homes. Additionally, if we cannot obtain additional financing to fund the purchase of land under our option contracts or purchase contracts, we may incur contractual penalties and fees. Any difficulty in obtaining sufficient capital for planned development expenditures could also cause project delays, which could increase our costs. Furthermore, if additional funds are raised through the issuance of stock, dilution to stockholders could result. If additional funds are raised through the incurrence of debt, we will incur increased debt servicing costs and would likely become subject to additional restrictive financial and other covenants. We can give no assurance as to the terms or availability of additional capital. If we are not successful in obtaining or refinancing capital when needed, it could adversely impact our ability to operate our business effectively, which could reduce our sales and earnings, and adversely impact our financial position. In addition, our Credit Facility relies upon the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”). The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, has announced plans to phase out the use of LIBOR by the end of 2021. Our Credit Facility agreement provides that if it is unlawful to maintain any advance at a rate based on LIBOR, that our administrative agent shall select an alternate index that is reasonably comparable to that of one-month LIBOR in its sole discretion. There remains uncertainty regarding the future utilization of LIBOR and the nature of any replacement rate, and any potential effects of the transition away from LIBOR.

 

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Our level of indebtedness is significant and may adversely affect our financial position and prevent us from fulfilling our debt obligations; we may incur additional debt in the future.

 

The homebuilding industry is capital-intensive and requires significant up-front expenditures to secure land and pursue development and construction on such land. Accordingly, we incur substantial indebtedness to finance our homebuilding activities. As discussed elsewhere in this filing, including "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Result of Operations - Liquidity and Capital Resources," the Company has outstanding $308.0 million in aggregate principal amount of the Notes. As of December 31, 2019, the Notes had a carrying value of $304.8 million, net of the unamortized discount of $1.1 million, unamortized premium of $0.9 million and $3.0 million of unamortized debt issuance costs. In addition, we have $130 million in debt commitments under our Credit Facility, none of which was outstanding or utilized to provide letters of credit at December 31, 2019 leaving $130 million available for borrowing, subject to satisfaction of the financial covenants and borrowing base requirements in our Credit Facility. As of December 31, 2019, we did not meet the minimum interest coverage ratio test under our Credit Facility. Not meeting such test is not a default under the Credit Facility agreement so long as we maintain unrestricted cash equal to not less than the trailing 12 month consolidated interest incurred (as defined in the Credit Facility agreement) which was $28.9 million as of December 31, 2019. The Company was in compliance with this requirement with an unrestricted cash balance of $79.3 million at December 31, 2019. This requirement to maintain additional cash balances may reduce our ability to use our cash flow for other purposes, including land investments. In August 2019, the Company entered into a second modification of its Credit Facility agreement which extended the term of the facility to March 2021.  Certain provisions were altered in the agreement, including our ability to repurchase the Notes if our Net Leverage Ratio (as defined in the Credit Facility agreement) exceeds 55%.  If our Net Leverage Ratio is less than or equal to 55%, we may repurchase Notes so long as such repurchases do not exceed $5,000,000 per quarter.  The limitation on our ability to repurchase the Notes limits management’s ability to reduce debt and realize a gain on debt extinguishment (depending on the price at which the Notes are trading) which may negatively impact our financial position.

 

The terms of the indenture governing the Notes and our Credit Facility permit us to incur additional debt, in each case, subject to certain restrictions. Our level of indebtedness and incurring additional debt subject us to many risks that, if realized, would adversely affect us, including the risk that:

 

 

our ability to obtain additional financing as needed for working capital, land acquisition costs, building costs, other capital expenditures, or general corporate purposes, or to refinance existing indebtedness before its scheduled maturity, may be limited;

 

our debt may increase our vulnerability to adverse economic and industry conditions;

 

we may be required to dedicate a portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our debt, thereby reducing funds available for other purposes such as land and lot acquisition, development and construction activities;

 

our cash flow from operations may be insufficient to make required payments of principal of and interest on the debt, which would likely result in acceleration of the maturity of such debt; and

 

we may be put at a competitive disadvantage and reduce our flexibility in planning for, or responding to, changing conditions in our industry, including increased competition.

 

Our ability to meet our expenses depends, to a large extent, on our future performance, which will be affected by financial, business, economic and other factors. We will not be able to control many of these factors, such as economic conditions in the markets where we operate and pressure from competitors. If we do not have sufficient funds, we may be required to refinance all or part of our existing debt, sell assets or borrow additional funds. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so on terms acceptable to us, if at all. If we are unable to refinance our debt on acceptable terms, we may be forced to dispose of our assets on disadvantageous terms, potentially resulting in losses. To the extent we cannot meet any future debt service obligations, we may lose some or all of our assets or property that may be pledged to secure our obligations to foreclosure. Also, debt agreements may contain specific cross-default provisions with respect to specified other indebtedness, giving the lenders the right to declare a default if we are in default under other loans in some circumstances. Defaults under our debt agreements could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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We currently have significant amounts invested in unconsolidated joint ventures with third parties - some of which are affiliated with certain of our board members - in which we have less than a controlling interest. These investments are highly illiquid and have significant risks due to, in part, a lack of sole decision-making authority and reliance on the financial condition and liquidity of our joint venture partners.

 

We own interests in various joint ventures and as of December 31, 2019, our investments in and advances to our unconsolidated joint ventures was $30.2 million. We have entered into joint ventures in order to acquire land positions, to manage our risk profile and to leverage our capital base. We may enter into additional joint ventures in the future. Such joint venture investments involve risks not otherwise present in wholly owned projects, including the following:

 

 

Control and Partner Dispute Risk. We do not have exclusive control over the development, financing, management and other aspects of the project or joint venture, which may prevent us from taking actions that are in our best interest but opposed by our partners. We cannot exercise sole decision-making authority regarding the project or joint venture, which could create the potential risk of creating impasses on decisions, such as acquisitions or sales. Disputes between us and our partners may result in litigation or arbitration that would increase our expenses and prevent our officers and directors from focusing their time and efforts on our business and could result in subjecting the projects owned by the joint venture to additional risk. Our existing joint venture agreements contain, and any future joint venture agreements may contain, buy-sell provisions pursuant to which one partner may initiate procedures requiring the other partner to choose between buying the other partner’s interest or selling its interest to that partner; we may not have the capital to purchase our joint venture parties’ interest under these circumstances even if we believe it would be beneficial to do so.

 

Covenant Compliance Risk. Our Credit Facility prohibits us from making investments in and advances to joint ventures when we are unable to meet certain financial covenants. In addition, the Indenture governing the Notes limits our ability to make investments in joint ventures or guarantee of joint venture indebtedness when our aggregate investments in joint ventures exceeds 15% of our consolidated tangible assets (before the operation of general baskets and other exceptions). If we become unable to fund our joint venture obligations this could result in, among other things, our default under our joint venture operating agreements, loan agreements, and credit enhancements. And, our failure to satisfy our joint venture obligations could also affect our joint venture's ability to carry out its operations or strategy which could impair the value of our investment in the joint venture. Furthermore, a failure to comply with covenants in our joint venture loans could trigger cross-defaults with respect to the Company's other indebtedness.

 

Development Risk. Typically, we serve as the administrative member, managing member, or general partner of our joint ventures and one of our subsidiaries acts as the general contractor while our joint venture partner serves as the capital provider. Due to our respective role in these joint ventures, we may become liable for obligations beyond our proportionate equity and/or contribution interest. In addition, the projects we build through joint ventures are often larger and have a longer time horizon than the typical project developed by our wholly owned homebuilding operations. Time delays associated with obtaining entitlements, unforeseen development issues, unanticipated labor and material cost increases, higher carrying costs, and general market deterioration and other changes are more likely to impact larger, long-term projects, all of which may negatively impact the profitability and capital needs of these ventures and our proportionate share of income and capital. For example, as discussed in "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Results of Operations - Equity in Net Income (Loss) of Unconsolidated Joint Ventures", in 2019 one of our Southern California land development joint ventures recorded a significant impairment loss of $70.0 million, of which the Company's allocated share totaled $3.5 million.

 

Financing Risk. There are generally a limited number of sources willing to provide acquisition, development and construction financing to land development and homebuilding joint ventures. During difficult market conditions, it may be difficult or impossible to obtain financing for our joint ventures on commercially reasonable terms, or to refinance existing joint venture borrowings as such borrowings mature. In addition, a partner may fail to fund its share of required capital contributions or may become bankrupt, which may cause us and any other remaining partners to need to fulfill the obligations of the venture in order to preserve our interests and retain any benefits from the joint venture. As a result, we could be contractually required, or elect, to contribute our corporate funds to the joint venture to finance acquisition and development and/or construction costs following termination or step-down of joint venture financing that the joint venture is unable to restructure, extend, or refinance with another third party lender. In addition, our ability to contribute our funds to or for the joint venture may be limited if we do not meet the Credit Facility conditions discussed above. In addition, we sometimes finance projects in our unconsolidated joint ventures with debt that is secured by the underlying real property. Secured indebtedness increases the risk of the joint venture’s loss of ownership of the property (which would, in turn, impair the value of our ownership interests in the joint venture). See Item 7, "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements and Contractual Obligations"

 

Contribution Risk. Under credit enhancements that we typically provide with respect to joint venture borrowings, we and our partners could be required to make additional unanticipated investments in and advances to these joint ventures, either in the form of capital contributions or loan repayments, to reduce such outstanding borrowings. We may have to make additional contributions that exceed our proportional share of capital if our partners fail to contribute any or all of their share. While in most instances we would be able to exercise remedies available under the applicable joint venture agreements if a partner fails to contribute its proportional share of capital, our partner's financial condition may preclude any meaningful cash recovery on the obligation. See Item 7, "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements and Contractual Obligations" and Note 11 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for more information on LTV maintenance agreements and completion guaranties.  In addition, we have an agreement in which our proportionate share of losses is equal to our percentage interest but exceeds our contribution percentage in a project that has experienced significant cost overruns and delays.  If such venture does not recoup its costs and preferred returns, we would be obligated to contribute additional capital to share the loss in accordance with our percentage interests.

 

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Completion Risk. We often sign a completion agreement in connection with obtaining financing for our joint ventures. Under such agreements, we may be compelled to complete a project, usually with costs within the budget related to the project being funded by the lender with any budget shortfalls being borne by us, even if we no longer have an economic interest in the joint venture or the joint venture no longer has an interest in the property.

 

Illiquid Investment Risk. We lack a controlling interest in our joint ventures and therefore are generally unable to compel our joint ventures to sell assets, return invested capital, require additional capital contributions or take any other action without the vote of at least one or more of our venture partners. This means that, absent partner agreement, we may not be able to liquidate our joint venture investments to generate cash.

 

Consolidation Risk. The accounting rules for joint ventures are complex and the decision as to whether it is proper to consolidate a joint venture onto our balance sheet is fact intensive. If the facts concerning an unconsolidated joint venture were to change and a triggering event under applicable accounting rules were to occur, we might be required to consolidate previously unconsolidated joint ventures onto our balance sheet which could adversely impact our financial statements and our leverage and other financial conditions or covenants.

 

Any of the above might subject a project to liabilities in excess of those contemplated and adversely affect the value of our current and future joint venture investments.

 

Our current financing arrangements contain, and our future financing arrangements likely will contain, restrictive covenants relating to our operations.

 

Our current financing arrangements, including the Credit Facility and the Indenture governing the Notes, contain covenants (financial and otherwise) affecting our ability to incur additional debt, make certain investments, allow liquidity to fall below certain levels, make distributions to our stockholders, and otherwise affect our operating policies. These restrictions limit our ability to, among other things:

 

 

incur or guarantee additional indebtedness or issue certain equity interests;

 

pay dividends or distributions, repurchase equity or prepay subordinated debt;

 

make certain investments, including investments in joint ventures;

 

sell assets;

 

incur liens;

 

create restrictions on the ability of restricted subsidiaries to transfer assets;

 

enter into transactions with affiliates;

 

create unrestricted subsidiaries; and

 

consolidate, merge or sell all or substantially all of our assets.

 

In addition, our Credit Facility provides that our maximum net leverage ratio must be less than 65%, which, as defined in our Credit Facility agreement, is calculated on a net debt basis after a minimum liquidity threshold. Our net leverage ratio as of December 31, 2019, as calculated under our Credit Facility, was approximately 50.3.%. Our Credit Facility also contains financial covenants related to our tangible net worth, liquidity, and interest coverage or a minimum unrestricted cash balance. Tables measuring our compliance with the financial conditions and covenants under the Notes and Credit Facility are set forth in "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Liquidity and Capital Resources" included elsewhere in this Report on Form 10-K and incorporated herein by reference. Failure to have sufficient borrowing base availability in the future or to be in compliance with our financial covenants under our Credit Facility could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial condition.

 

A breach of the covenants under the Indenture or any of the other agreements governing our indebtedness could result in an event of default under the Indenture or other such agreements.

 

A default under our Credit Facility or the Indenture governing the Notes or other agreements governing our indebtedness may allow our creditors to accelerate the related debt and may result in the acceleration of any other debt to which a cross-acceleration or cross-default provision applies. In addition, an event of default under the Credit Facility agreement would permit the lenders thereunder to terminate all commitments to extend further credit under our Credit Facility. Furthermore, if we were unable to repay the amounts due and payable under any future secured credit facilities, those lenders could proceed against the collateral granted to them to secure that indebtedness. In the event our lenders or the holders of our Notes accelerate the repayment of our borrowings, we cannot assure you that we and our subsidiaries would have sufficient assets to repay such indebtedness. As a result of these restrictions, we may be:

 

 

limited in how we conduct our business;

 

unable to raise additional debt or equity financing to operate during general economic or business downturns; or

 

unable to compete effectively or to take advantage of new business opportunities. These restrictions may affect our ability to grow in accordance with our plans.

 

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Potential future downgrades of our credit ratings could adversely affect our access to capital and could otherwise have a material adverse effect on us.

 

Rating agencies may elect in the future to downgrade our corporate credit rating or any rating of the Notes due to deterioration in our homebuilding operations, credit metrics or other earnings-based metrics, as well as our leverage or a significant decrease in our tangible net worth. These ratings and our current credit condition affect, among other things, our ability to access new capital, especially debt, and negative changes in these ratings may result in more stringent covenants and higher interest rates under the terms of any new debt. Our credit ratings could be downgraded or rating agencies could issue adverse commentaries in the future, which could have a material adverse effect on our stock price, business, results of operations, financial condition and liquidity. In particular, a weakening of our financial condition, including a significant increase in our leverage or decrease in our profitability or cash flows, could adversely affect our ability to obtain necessary funds, result in a credit rating downgrade or change in outlook, or otherwise increase our cost of borrowing.

 

Interest expense on debt we incur may limit our cash available to fund our growth strategies.

 

As of December 31, 2019, our Notes had a carrying value of approximately $304.8 million, net of the unamortized discount of $1.1 million, unamortized premium of $0.9 million and $3.0 million of unamortized debt issuance costs. In addition, we have $130 million in debt commitments under our Credit Facility, of which none was outstanding or utilized to provide letters of credit at December 31, 2019 with $130 million is available for borrowing, subject to satisfaction of the financial covenants and borrowing base requirements in our Credit Facility. As part of our financing strategy, we may incur a significant amount of additional debt. Our Credit Facility has, and any additional debt we subsequently incur may have, a floating rate of interest. Our Notes have a fixed rate of interest. We may incur fixed rate debt in the future that may be at a higher interest rate than our floating rate debt. Higher interest rates could increase debt service requirements on our current floating rate debt and on any floating or fixed rate debt we subsequently incur, and could reduce funds available for operations, future business opportunities or other purposes. If we need to repay existing debt during periods of rising interest rates, we could be required to refinance our then-existing debt on unfavorable terms or liquidate one or more of our assets to repay such debt at times that may not permit realization of a favorable return on such assets and could result in a loss or lower profitability. The occurrence of either such event or both could materially and adversely affect our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may be unable to repurchase the Notes upon a change of control as required by the Indenture.

 

Upon the occurrence of certain specific kinds of change of control events, we must offer to repurchase the Notes at 101% of their principal amount, plus accrued and unpaid interest thereon. In such circumstances, we cannot assure you that we would have sufficient funds available to repay all of our indebtedness that would become payable upon a change of control and to repurchase all of the Notes. Our failure to purchase the Notes would be a default under the Indenture and would trigger a cross default of the Credit Facility.

 

Risks Related to Our Organization and Structure

 

We are and will continue to be dependent on key personnel and certain members of our management team.

 

Our success depends to a significant degree upon the contributions of certain key personnel including, but not limited to, our executive officers, each of whom would be difficult to replace. Although we have entered into employment agreements with our executive officers, there is no guarantee that these executives will remain employed with us. If any of our key personnel were to cease employment with us, our operating results could suffer. Our ability to retain our key personnel or to attract suitable replacements should any members of our management team leave depends on the competitive nature of the employment market. The loss of services from key personnel or a limitation in their availability could materially and adversely impact our business, prospects, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations. Further, such a loss could be negatively perceived in the capital markets and with our bank group. We have not obtained key person life insurance that would provide us with proceeds in the event of death or disability of any of our key personnel.

 

Termination of the employment agreements with the members of our management team could be costly and prevent a change in control of our company.

 

Our employment agreements with Messrs. Webb, Miller and Stephens each provide that if their employment with us terminates under certain circumstances, we may be required to pay them significant amounts of severance compensation, thereby making it costly to terminate their employment. Furthermore, these provisions could delay or prevent a transaction or a change in control of our company that might involve a premium paid for shares of our common stock or otherwise be in the best interests of our stockholders, which could materially and adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

 

Our charter and bylaws could prevent a third party from acquiring us or limit the price that investors might be willing to pay for shares of our common stock.    

 

Provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our certificate of incorporation and our bylaws could have the effect of making it more difficult for a third party to acquire, or of discouraging a third party from attempting to acquire, control of us. These provisions could delay or prevent a change in control of and could limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock.

 

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Our Board of Directors is divided into three classes, with the term of one class expiring each year, which could delay a change in our control. Our certificate of incorporation also authorizes our Board of Directors to issue new series of common stock and preferred stock without stockholder approval. Depending on the rights and terms of any new series created, and the reaction of the market to the series, rights of existing stockholders could be negatively affected. For example, subject to applicable law, our Board of Directors could create a series of common stock or preferred stock with preferential rights to dividends or assets upon liquidation, or with superior voting rights to our existing common stock. The ability of our Board of Directors to issue these new series of common stock and preferred stock could also prevent or delay a third party from acquiring us, even if doing so would be beneficial to our stockholders.

 

We are also subject to the anti-takeover provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which prohibits Delaware corporations from engaging in business combinations specified in the statute with an interested stockholder, as defined in the statute, for a period of three years after the date of the transaction in which the person first becomes an interested stockholder, unless the business combination is approved in advance by a majority of the independent directors or by the holders of at least two-thirds of the outstanding disinterested shares. The application of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law could also have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control of us.

 

Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock

 

We are a "smaller reporting company" and, as a result of the reduced disclosure and governance requirements applicable to emerging growth and smaller reporting companies, our common stock may be less attractive to investors.

 

We are a "smaller reporting company" because we had public float of less than $250 million on the applicable measurement date. As a smaller reporting company, we are subject to reduced disclosure obligations in our periodic reports and proxy statements. We cannot predict whether investors will find our common stock less attractive as a result of our taking advantage of these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result of our choices, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

 

The price of our Common Stock is subject to volatility and our trading volume is relatively low.

 

The market price of our common stock may be highly volatile and subject to wide fluctuations. Compared to other public homebuilders, we believe we have relatively low trading volume. Because of this limited trading volume, purchases and sales of large numbers of our shares may cause rapid price swings in our stock. In addition, our financial performance, government regulatory action, tax laws, additions or departures of key personnel, interest rates and market conditions in general could have a significant impact on the future market price of our common stock.

 

If securities or industry analysts do not publish, or cease publishing, research or reports about us, our business or our market, or if they change their recommendations regarding our common stock adversely, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

 

The trading market for our common stock is influenced by whether industry or securities analysts publish research and reports about us, our business, our market or our competitors and, if any analysts do publish such reports, what they publish in those reports. Any analysts who do cover us may make adverse recommendations regarding our common stock, adversely change their recommendations from time to time or provide more favorable relative recommendations about our competitors. We are covered by a limited number of analysts.  If any analyst who covers us now or may cover us in the future were to cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn may cause our stock price or trading volume to decline.

 

We do not intend to pay dividends on our common stock for the foreseeable future.

 

We currently intend to retain our future earnings to finance the development and expansion of our business and, therefore, do not intend to pay cash dividends on our common stock for the foreseeable future. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, restrictions contained in any financing instruments, applicable legal requirements and such other factors as our board of directors deems relevant. Accordingly, stockholders may need to sell their shares of our common stock to realize a return on investment, and may not be able to sell shares at or above the price paid for them.

 

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Certain stockholders have rights to cause our Company to undertake securities offerings. Future sales of our common stock or other securities convertible into our common stock could cause the market value of our common stock to decline and could result in dilution of your shares.

 

Our board of directors is authorized, without stockholder approval, to cause us to issue additional shares of our common stock or to raise capital through the issuance of preferred stock, securities (including debt securities) convertible into common stock, options, warrants and other rights, on terms and for consideration as our board of directors in its sole discretion may determine. In addition, we entered into a registration rights agreement with the individual founders and certain of our institutional shareholders, IHP Capital Partners VI, LLC, TCN/TNHC LLC and Watt/TNHC LLC (the "Institutional Investors") at the time our Company consummated its initial public offering. If these holders, or any shareholders, sell substantial amounts of their shares, the price of our common stock could decline significantly. In addition, the sale of these shares could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities. We cannot predict the effect, if any, of future sales of our common stock, or other securities on the value of our common stock. Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock by a large stockholder or otherwise, or the perception that such sales could occur, may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

 

Our Notes and future offerings of debt securities, which rank senior to our common stock upon our bankruptcy or liquidation, and future offerings of equity securities that may be senior to our common stock for the purposes of dividend and liquidating distributions, may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

 

We have outstanding $308.0 million in aggregate principal amount of Notes. In the future, we may attempt to increase our capital resources by conducting offerings of debt securities or additional offerings of equity securities. Upon bankruptcy or liquidation, holders of our debt securities, including the Notes, and shares of preferred stock and lenders with respect to other borrowings will receive a distribution of our available assets prior to the holders of our common stock. Additional equity offerings may dilute the holdings of our existing stockholders or reduce the market price of our common stock, or both. Our preferred stock, if issued, could have a preference on liquidating distributions or a preference on dividend payments or both that could limit our ability to make a dividend distribution to the holders of our common stock. Our decision to issue securities in any future offering will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control. As a result, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing or nature of our future offerings, and purchasers of our common stock bear the risk of our future offerings reducing the market price of our common stock and diluting their ownership interest in our company.

 

Certain large stockholders own a significant percentage of our shares and exert significant influence over us. Their interests may not coincide with ours and may have conflicts of interests with us in the future.

    

IHP Capital Partners VI, LLC ("IHP"), H. Lawrence Webb, Wayne Stelmar, Tom Redwitz and Joseph Davis (collectively, the "Founders") beneficially own (as such term is defined in Section 13(d)(3) of the Exchange Act), directly or indirectly through their affiliates, approximately 28% of our common stock. IHP and the Founders are also currently party to an investor rights agreement, pursuant to which each such holder agreed to vote, in respect of IHP, in favor of one individual for nomination and election to the Board chosen by IHP for so long as IHP owns 4% or more of our then-outstanding stock. IHP has also agreed to vote its shares of common stock in favor of Messrs. Webb, Stelmar or Berchtold (or, if at that time nominated as a director, Messrs. Davis or Redwitz) in any election in which any such individual is a nominee. In addition to the influence such holders have due to their voting arrangement, to the extent they and their affiliates vote their shares together on any matter, their combined stock ownership may effectively give them the power to influence matters reserved for our shareholders, including the election of members of our board of directors and significant corporate or change of control transactions.

 

Circumstances may occur in which the interest of these shareholders could be in conflict with your interests or our interests. In addition, such persons may have an interest in pursuing transactions that, in their judgment, enhance the value of their equity investment in us, even though such transactions may involve risks to you. For example, the Institutional Investors are also in the real estate and land development business. Such Institutional Investors and their affiliates may have an interest in directly or indirectly pursuing acquisitions, divestitures, financings or other transactions that, in their judgment, could enhance their other equity investments, even though such transactions might involve risks to us. We have entered into various business relationships with some of the Institutional Investors, or entities affiliated with or controlled by them, including real estate development or homebuilding joint ventures. While our audit committee, our related party review committee, or in some cases all of our independent or disinterested board members, have reviewed and approved all such transactions, we do not have exclusive control over such joint ventures, which may prevent us from taking actions that are in our best interest but opposed by our partners. If the projects within such joint ventures do not perform well, it is possible that disputes between us and our joint venture partners may result in litigation or arbitration which would be further complicated due to the conflict of interest. Any such dispute would increase our expenses and prevent our officers and directors from focusing their time and efforts on our business and could have a material and adverse effect on our business. See the Risk Factor entitled "We currently have significant amounts invested in unconsolidated joint ventures with independent third parties--some which are affiliated with certain of our board members--in which we have less than a controlling interest. These investments are highly illiquid and have significant risks due to, in part, a lack of sole decision-making authority and reliance on the financial condition and liquidity of our joint venture partners" for a description of additional risks arising from our investments in joint ventures. Institutional Investors and their affiliates are involved in business that provides equity capital for residential housing, land and development, including for businesses that directly or indirectly compete with our business. In their capacities as principals or executives of those businesses, they may also pursue opportunities that may be complementary to our business, and, as a result, those opportunities may not be available to us.

 

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There is no assurance that the existence of a stock repurchase program will result in additional repurchases of our common stock or enhance long term stockholder value, and repurchases, if any, could affect our stock price and increase its volatility and will diminish our cash reserves.

 

On May 10, 2018, the Company's Board of Directors approved a stock repurchase program (the “Repurchase Program”), authorizing the repurchase of shares of common stock with an aggregate value of up to $15 million. The repurchases of the Company’s shares may be made in the open market, in privately negotiated transactions, or otherwise. The timing and amount of repurchases, if any, will be determined by the Company’s management at its discretion and be based on a variety of factors such as the market price of the Company’s common stock, corporate and contractual requirements, prevailing market and economic conditions and legal requirements. The share repurchase program may be modified, suspended or discontinued at any time. The Company intends to retire any shares repurchased. In August 2019, the Company extended its Credit Facility in a second modification. In connection with the extension, additional restrictions were placed on the Company’s ability to purchase its stock such that it is unable to purchase stock if its Net Leverage Ratio (as defined in the Credit Facility agreement) is greater than 55%. During any calendar quarter, if the Net Leverage Ratio is greater than 50% but less than 55%, the Company can purchase stock in an amount not to exceed the lesser of $2.5 million and $5 million, less the aggregate amount of all restricted payments and stock purchases made after the effective date of the second modification. During any calendar quarter, if the Net Leverage Ratio is less than 50%, the Company can purchase stock in an amount not to exceed the lesser of $5 million and $10 million, less the aggregate amount of all restricted payments and stock purchases made after the effective date of the second modification. The restrictions in the Credit Facility agreement restrict management’s ability to take advantage of the ability to purchase stock when it is most advantageous.

 

Repurchases pursuant to the Repurchase Program or any other stock repurchase program we adopt in the future could affect our stock price and increase its volatility and will reduce the market liquidity for our stock. The existence of a stock repurchase program could also cause our stock price to be higher than it would be in the absence of such a program. Additionally, these repurchases will diminish our cash reserves and increase our leverage, which could impact our ability to pursue possible future strategic opportunities and acquisitions, result in lower overall returns on our cash balances and impact our debt covenants and our ability to incur more indebtedness. There can be no assurance that any stock repurchases will, in fact, occur, or, if they occur, that they will enhance stockholder value. Although stock repurchase programs are intended to enhance long term stockholder value, short-term stock price fluctuations could reduce the effectiveness of these repurchases.

 

Non-U.S. holders may be subject to United States federal income tax on gain realized on the sale or disposition of shares of our common stock.

 

We believe that we are a “United States real property holding corporation,” or USRPHC, for United States federal income tax purposes. If we are a USRPHC, Non-U.S. Holders (as defined below) may be subject to United States federal income tax (including withholding tax) upon a sale or disposition of our common stock, if (i) our common stock is not regularly traded on an established securities market, or (ii) our common stock is regularly traded on an established securities market, and the Non-U.S. Holder owned, actually or constructively, common stock with a fair market value of more than 5% of the total fair market value of such common stock throughout the shorter of the five-year period ending on the date of the sale or other disposition or the Non-U.S. Holder’s holding period for such common stock.

 

For purposes of this discussion, a “Non-U.S. Holder” is any beneficial owner of our common stock that is neither a “U.S. person” nor an entity treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes. A U.S. person is any person that, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, is or is treated as any of the following:

 

 

an individual who is a citizen or resident of the United States;

 

a corporation created or organized under the laws of the United States, any state thereof, or the District of Columbia;

 

an estate, the income of which is subject to U.S. federal income tax regardless of its source; or

 

a trust that (1) is subject to the primary supervision of a U.S. court and the control of one or more “United States persons” (within the meaning of Section 7701(a)(30) of the Code), or (2) has a valid election in effect to be treated as a United States person for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

 

 

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

Not Applicable.

 

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Item 2.

Properties

 

We lease our corporate headquarters in Aliso Viejo, California. The lease on this facility consists of approximately 18,700 square feet and expires in November 2020. In addition, we lease divisional offices in Northern California, Southern California and Arizona, including approximately 6,800 square feet through May 2020 in Roseville, CA approximately 7,700 square feet through October 2021 in Walnut Creek, CA (all of which is sublet), approximately 1,400 square feet through July 2021 in Agoura Hills, CA and approximately 3,100 square feet through February 2021 in Scottsdale, AZ. For information on land owned and controlled by us and our joint ventures for use in our homebuilding activities, please refer to Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Results of Operations - Lots Owned and Controlled", "- Equity in Net Income (Loss) of Unconsolidated Joint Ventures" and "- Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements and Contractual Obligations - Joint Ventures".

 

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

 

We are involved in various claims and litigation arising in the ordinary course of business. We do not believe that any such claims and litigation will have a material adverse effect upon our results of operations or financial position.

 

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

Not Applicable.

 

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PART II

 

Item 5.

Market For Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "NWHM" and began trading on January 31, 2014.

 

As of February 13, 2020, we had 11 holders of record of our common stock. The number of holders of record is based upon the actual numbers of holders registered at such date and does not include holders of shares in "street name" or persons, partnerships, associates, corporations or other entities in security position listings maintained by depositories.

 

Dividends

 

We currently intend to retain our future earnings to finance the development and expansion of our business and, therefore, do not intend to pay cash dividends on our common stock for the foreseeable future. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, compliance with Delaware law, restrictions contained in any financing instruments, including but not limited to, our Credit Facility and Notes indenture, and such other factors as our board of directors deem relevant.

 

Issuer Share Repurchases

 

During the year ended December 31, 2019, the Company repurchased and retired 153,916 shares of its common stock at an aggregate purchase price of $1.0 million.  During the year ended December 31, 2018, the Company repurchased and retired 1,003,116 shares of its common stock at an aggregate purchase price of $8.5 million.  None of the 2019 repurchases took place during the three month period ended December 31, 2019. 

 

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

 

We did not sell any unregistered securities during the year ended December 31, 2019.

 

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Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

 

The following sets forth our selected financial data and other operating data on a historical basis. You should read the following selected financial data in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes, "Risk Factors" and with "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," which are included elsewhere in this annual report on Form 10-K. The historical results presented below are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected for any future period.

 

   

Year Ended December 31,

 
   

2019

   

2018

   

2017

   

2016

   

2015

 
   

(Dollars in thousands, except per share amounts)

 

Income Statement Data

                                       

Home sales revenue

  $ 532,352     $ 504,029     $ 560,842     $ 507,949     $ 280,209  

Land sales revenue

    41,664                          

Fee building revenue, including management fees

    95,333       163,537       190,324       186,507       149,890  

Total revenues

  $ 669,349     $ 667,566     $ 751,166     $ 694,456     $ 430,099  
                                         

Pretax income (loss):

                                       

Homebuilding

  $ (10,463 )   $ (24,706 )   $ 27,034     $ 25,546     $ 23,698  
Land     (3,405 )                        

Fee building

    2,052       4,401       5,497       8,404       10,213  

Pretax income (loss)

  $ (11,816 )   $ (20,305 )   $ 32,531     $ 33,950     $ 33,911  
                                         

Net income (loss) attributable to the Company

  $ (8,037 )   $ (14,216 )   $ 17,152     $ 21,022     $ 21,688  

Basic earnings (loss) per share

  $ (0.40 )   $ (0.69 )   $ 0.82     $ 1.02     $ 1.29  
Diluted earnings (loss) per share   $ (0.40 )   $ (0.69 )   $ 0.82     $ 1.01     $ 1.28  

Weighted Average Common Shares Outstanding: (1)

                                       

Basic

    20,063,148       20,703,967       20,849,736       20,685,386       16,767,513  

Diluted

    20,063,148       20,703,967       20,995,498       20,791,445       16,941,088  
                                         

Balance Sheet Data

                                       

Cash and cash equivalents

  $ 79,314     $ 42,273     $ 123,546     $ 30,496     $ 45,874  

Real estate inventories (2)

  $ 433,938     $ 566,290     $ 416,143     $ 286,928     $ 200,636  

Investment in and advances to unconsolidated joint ventures

  $ 30,217     $ 34,330     $ 55,824     $ 50,857     $ 60,572  

Total assets

  $ 603,189     $ 696,097     $ 644,512     $ 419,136     $ 351,270  

Total debt

  $ 304,832     $ 387,648     $ 318,656     $ 118,000     $ 83,082  

Stockholders’ equity

  $ 232,647     $ 239,954     $ 263,990     $ 244,523     $ 220,775  
Stockholders' equity per common share outstanding   $ 11.58     $ 11.96     $ 12.64     $ 11.81     $ 10.75  

Cash dividends declared per share

  $     $     $     $     $  
                                         

Operating Data (excluding unconsolidated JVs)

                                       

Net new home orders

    532       536       412       253       174  

New homes delivered

    574       498       341       250       148  

Average sales price of homes delivered

  $ 927     $ 1,012     $ 1,645     $ 2,032     $ 1,893  

Selling communities at end of year

    21       20       17       15       10  

Backlog at end of year, number of homes

    149       191       153       79       67  

Backlog at end of year, dollar value

  $ 125,803     $ 207,071     $ 162,250     $ 187,296     $ 166,567  

Average sales price of homes in backlog

  $ 844     $ 1,084     $ 1,060     $ 2,371     $ 2,486  
                                         

Operating Data – Fee Building Projects (excluding unconsolidated JVs)

                                       
Homes started     284       545       533       784       513  
Homes delivered     309       600       820       644       537  
Homes under construction at end of period     219       244       299       586       446  

 


(1)

The Company completed a follow-on offering on December 9, 2015 issuing and selling 4,025,000 shares of common stock at a price of $12.50 per share.

(2)

Effective July 1, 2016, certain capitalizable selling and marketing costs were reclassified to other assets from real estate inventories. Prior year periods have been reclassified to conform to current year presentation. $9.3 million was reclassified from real estate inventories to other assets for the year ended December 31, 2015.  

 

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Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

You should read the following in conjunction with the sections of this annual report on Form 10-K entitled "Risk Factors," "Cautionary Note Concerning Forward-Looking Statements," "Selected Financial Data" and "Business" and our historical financial statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere in this annual report on Form 10-K. This discussion contains forward-looking statements reflecting current expectations that involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results and the timing of events may differ materially from those contained in these forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including those discussed in the section entitled "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in this annual report on Form 10-K.

 

Non-GAAP Measures

 

This annual report on Form 10-K includes certain non-GAAP measures, including homebuilding gross margin before impairments (or home sales gross margin before impairments), homebuilding gross margin percentage before impairments, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA margin percentage, the ratio of Adjusted EBITDA to total interest incurred, adjusted net income, adjusted earnings per share, net debt, the ratio of net debt-to-capital, adjusted homebuilding gross margin, adjusted homebuilding gross margin percentage, general and administrative costs excluding severance charges, general and administrative costs excluding severance charges as a percentage of home sales revenue, selling, marketing and general and administrative costs excluding severance charges, and selling, marketing and general and administrative costs excluding severance charges as a percentage of home sales revenue.  For a reconciliation of homebuilding gross margin before impairments, homebuilding gross margin percentage before impairments, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA margin percentage, and the ratio of Adjusted EBITDA to total interest incurred to the comparable GAAP measures please see "-- Consolidated Financial Data." For a reconciliation of adjusted net income and adjusted earnings per share to the comparable GAAP measures, please see "-- Overview." For a reconciliation of adjusted homebuilding gross margin and adjusted homebuilding gross margin percentage to the comparable GAAP measures, please see "-- Results of Operations - Homebuilding Gross Margin." For a reconciliation of net debt and net debt-to-capital to the comparable GAAP measures, please see "-- Liquidity and Capital Resources - Debt-to-Capital Ratios."  For a reconciliation of general and administrative costs excluding severance charges, general and administrative expenses excluding severance charges as a percentage of homes sales revenue, selling, marketing and general and administrative expenses excluding severance charges and selling, marketing and general and administrative expenses excluding severance charges as a percentage of home sales revenue, please see "-- Results of Operations - Selling, General and Administrative Expenses." 

 

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Consolidated Financial Data

 

   

Year Ended December 31,

 
   

2019

   

2018

   

2017

 
   

(Dollars in thousands)

 

Revenues:

                       

Home sales

  $ 532,352     $ 504,029     $ 560,842  

Land sales

    41,664              

Fee building, including management fees from unconsolidated joint ventures of $1,947, $3,385, and $4,945, respectively

    95,333       163,537       190,324  
      669,349       667,566       751,166  

Cost of Sales:

                       

Home sales

    469,557       436,530       473,213  

Home sales impairments

    8,300       10,000       2,200  

Land sales

    43,169              

Land sales impairments

    1,900              

Fee building

    93,281       159,136       184,827  
      616,207       605,666       660,240  

Gross Margin:

                       

Home sales

    54,495       57,499       85,429  

Land sales

    (3,405 )            

Fee building

    2,052       4,401       5,497  
      53,142       61,900       90,926  
                         
Home sales gross margin     10.2 %     11.4 %     15.2 %
Home sales gross margin before impairments(1)     11.8 %     13.4 %     15.6 %
Land sales gross margin     (8.2 )%            
Fee building gross margin     2.2 %     2.7 %     2.9 %
                         

Selling and marketing expenses

    (36,357 )     (36,065 )     (32,702 )

General and administrative expenses

    (25,723 )     (25,966 )     (26,330 )

Equity in net income (loss) of unconsolidated joint ventures

    (3,503 )     (19,653 )     866  

Gain on early extinguishment of debt

    1,164              

Other income (expense), net

    (539 )     (521 )     (229 )

Pretax income (loss)

    (11,816 )     (20,305 )     32,531  

(Provision) benefit for income taxes

    3,815       6,075       (15,390 )

Net income (loss)

    (8,001 )     (14,230 )     17,141  

Net (income) loss attributable to non-controlling interest

    (36 )     14       11  

Net income (loss) attributable to The New Home Company Inc.

  $ (8,037 )   $ (14,216 )   $ 17,152  
                         

Interest incurred

  $ 28,819     $ 28,377     $ 21,978  

Adjusted EBITDA(2)

  $ 42,471     $ 39,898     $ 50,145  
Adjusted EBITDA margin percentage (2)     6.3 %     6.0 %     6.7 %

 


 

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(1)

Home sales gross margin before impairments (also referred to as homebuilding gross margin before impairments) is a non-GAAP measure. The table below reconciles this non-GAAP financial measure to homebuilding gross margin, the nearest GAAP equivalent.

   

Year Ended December 31,

 
   

2019

   

%

   

2018

   

%

   

2017

   

%

 
   

(Dollars in thousands)

 

Home sales revenue

  $ 532,352       100.0 %   $ 504,029       100.0 %   $ 560,842       100.0 %

Cost of home sales

    477,857       89.8 %     446,530       88.6 %     475,413       84.8 %

Homebuilding gross margin

    54,495       10.2 %     57,499       11.4 %     85,429       15.2 %

Add: Home sales impairments

    8,300       1.6 %     10,000       2.0 %     2,200       0.4 %

Homebuilding gross margin before impairments(1)

  $ 62,795       11.8 %   $ 67,499       13.4 %   $ 87,629       15.6 %

 

(2)

Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA margin percentage and ratio of Adjusted EBITDA to total interest incurred are non-GAAP measures. Adjusted EBITDA margin percentage is calculated as a percentage of total revenue. Management believes that Adjusted EBITDA, which is a non-GAAP measure, assists investors in understanding and comparing the operating characteristics of homebuilding activities by eliminating many of the differences in companies' respective capitalization, interest costs, tax position and inventory impairments. Due to the significance of the GAAP components excluded, Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as an alternative to net income (loss), cash flows from operations or any other performance measure prescribed by GAAP. The table below reconciles net income (loss), calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP, to Adjusted EBITDA.

 

   

Year Ended December 31,

 
   

2019

   

2018

   

2017

 
   

(Dollars in thousands)

 

Net income (loss)

  $ (8,001 )   $ (14,230 )   $ 17,141  

Add:

                       

Interest amortized to cost of sales and equity in net income (loss) of unconsolidated joint ventures

    28,275       19,908       11,057  

Provision (benefit) for income taxes

    (3,815 )     (6,075 )     15,390  

Depreciation and amortization

    8,957       6,631       449  

Amortization of stock-based compensation

    2,260       3,090       2,803  

Cash distributions of income from unconsolidated joint ventures

    374       715       1,588  
Severance charges     1,788              

Noncash inventory impairments and abandonments

    10,294       10,206       2,583  

Less:

                       

Gain on early extinguishment of debt

    (1,164 )            

Equity in net (income) loss of unconsolidated joint ventures

    3,503       19,653       (866 )

Adjusted EBITDA

  $ 42,471     $ 39,898     $ 50,145  

Total Revenue

  $ 669,349     $ 667,566     $ 751,166  
Adjusted EBITDA margin percentage     6.3 %     6.0 %     6.7 %

Interest incurred

    28,819       28,377       21,978  

Ratio of Adjusted EBITDA to total interest incurred

    1.5x       1.4x       2.3x  

 

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Overview

 

Fiscal 2019 was a pivotal year for our Company as we committed early in the year to generating cash flow, deleveraging our balance sheet, and improving SG&A efficiency to address a weaker housing market to start the year.  By the end of 2019, the Company had generated $121.3 million in operating cash flow, reduced debt by $82.8 million, and established a more streamlined cost structure which included right-sizing our operations by reducing headcount, along with improved selling, marketing and administrative expense leverage. At the end of 2019, our debt-to-capital ratio was 56.7% and our net-debt-to-capital ratio was 49.2%*, a 980 basis point improvement over 2018.  

  

2019 net new orders of 532 were nearly flat with 2018 orders as the 2019 order volume was impacted by weaker buyer demand in the first half of the year that drove a year-over-year decrease in monthly sales absorption rates.  Buyer demand steadily improved throughout the year and drove year-over-year increases in our monthly net new orders for the final five months of 2019. The 2019 fourth quarter was particularly strong with monthly sales pace up 83% resulting in a 106% increase in net new orders over the 2018 fourth quarter.  Demand during 2019 was strongest at our more affordable, entry level communities where the monthly absorption rate increased to 3.3 for the year compared to the Company average of 2.1 further underscoring the benefit of our ongoing strategy to diversify our product portfolio and expand our customer base.  The Company also delivered 62% more spec homes in 2019 as compared to 2018 due in part to an increase in spec homes from a shift to more affordable product and also due to a higher beginning balance of specs to start 2019 due to slower sales in the fourth quarter of 2018.  The increase in spec deliveries, along with a higher number of homes in beginning backlog, drove a 15% increase in deliveries for 2019, which contributed to a 6% increase in home sales revenue for 2019 and was partially offset by an 8% drop in average selling price that accompanied the delivery mix shift.  We expect this shift to more affordable product to continue as approximately 58% of homes in the 2019 ending backlog were from entry level and first time move up communities compared to only about 29% at the end of 2018.  Ending backlog for 2019 totaled $125.8 million from 149 homes compared to $207.1 million from 191 homes at December 31, 2018.

 

Total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2019 were $669.3 million compared to $667.6 million for the prior year. In addition to the increase in homebuilding revenue, the Company also recorded land sales revenue of $41.7 million for 2019 compared to no land sales revenue during 2018.  The land sales revenue related to three land parcels sold in Northern California as part of a strategic decision to generate cash flow and reduce our concentration of capital investments in certain communities.  Partially offsetting these revenue increases was a 42% year-over-year decrease in fee building revenue driven by a decrease in construction activity at fee building communities in Irvine, California due to lower demand levels in that market. 

 

For the full year 2019, the Company reported a net loss of $8.0 million, or $(0.40) per diluted share. Adjusted net income for the year was $3.3 million*, or $0.16* per diluted share, after excluding $10.2 million in pretax inventory impairment charges, including $1.9 million related to a land sale, a $3.5 million pretax joint venture impairment charge, and $1.5 million in land sales losses. The Company's net loss for 2018 was $14.2 million, or $(0.69) per diluted share. Adjusted net income for 2018 was $7.6 million*, or $0.37* per diluted share, and excluded $10.0 million in pretax inventory impairment charges and a $20.0 million pretax joint venture impairment charge. The year-over-year decrease in net loss was primarily attributable to a $16.5 decrease in joint venture impairment charges, a 6% increase in home sales revenue, and a 60 basis point improvement in selling, general and administrative expenses as percentage of home sales revenue.  These increases were partially offset by a 120 basis point decline in home sales margin (a 160 basis point decline before impairments*), a 42% decrease in fee building revenue, and a reduction in income tax benefit.  The decrease in home sales gross margin before impairments was the result of increased incentives and higher interest costs, which were partially offset by a product mix shift. 

 

The Company's wholly owned lots owned and controlled at December 31, 2019 was 2,701, of which approximately 42% were controlled through option contracts. The Company ended the year with $79.3 million in cash and cash equivalents, $304.8 million in debt, of which none was outstanding under its $130 million unsecured revolving credit facility. The Company's debt-to-capital ratio at December 31, 2019 was 56.7% and its net debt-to-capital ratio was 49.2%*. During 2019, the Company repurchased and retired approximately $17.0 million of its 7.25% Senior Notes due 2022 and recognized a $1.2 million gain on the early extinguishment of debt. The Company also repurchased and retired 153,916 shares of common stock under the repurchase program authorized during 2018 and had remaining authorization to purchase $5.4 million of common shares, subject to debt covenant restrictions, under this plan.

 


 

* Net-debt-to capital ratio, adjusted net income, adjusted earnings per diluted share and home sales gross margin before impairments are non-GAAP measures. For a reconciliation of the net debt-to-capital ratio to the appropriate GAAP measure, please see "Liquidity and Capital Resources - Debt-to-Capital Ratios."  We believe that the ratio of net debt-to-capital is a relevant financial measure for management and investors to understand the leverage employed in our operations and as an indicator of the Company’s ability to obtain financing.  We believe adjusted net income and adjusted earnings per diluted share are meaningful as the impact of impairments, loss on land sales and deferred tax asset adjustments are removed to provide investors with an understanding of the impact these noncash items had on earnings. We believe home sales gross margin before impairments is meaningful, as it isolates the impact home sales impairments have on homebuilding gross margin and provides investors better comparisons with our competitors, who may adjust gross margins in a similar fashion.

 

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Non-GAAP Footnote (continued)

 

   

Year Ended December 31,

 
   

2019

   

2018

   

2017

 
    (Dollars in thousands)  
                         
Net income (loss) attributable to The New Home Company Inc.   $ (8,037 )   $ (14,216 )   $ 17,152  

Inventory and joint venture impairments and loss on land sales, net of tax

    11,313       21,810       1,366  
Noncash deferred tax asset charge                 3,190  

Adjusted net income attributable to The New Home Company Inc.

  $ 3,276     $ 7,594     $ 21,708  
                         

Earnings (loss) per share attributable to The New Home Company Inc.:

                       
Basic   $ (0.40 )   $ (0.69 )   $ 0.82  
Diluted   $ (0.40 )   $ (0.69 )   $ 0.82  
                         

Adjusted earnings per share attributable to The New Home Company Inc.:

                       
Basic   $ 0.16     $ 0.37     $ 1.04  
Diluted   $ 0.16     $ 0.37     $ 1.03  
                         

Weighted average shares outstanding for adjusted earnings per share:

                       
Basic     20,063,148       20,703,967       20,849,736  
Diluted     20,120,450       20,804,859       20,995,498  
                         
Inventory and joint venture impairments   $ 13,700     $ 30,000     $ 2,200  
Loss on land sales     1,505              

Less: Related tax benefit

    (3,892 )     (8,190 )     (834 )
Inventory and joint venture impairments and loss on land sales, net of tax   $ 11,313     $ 21,810     $ 1,366  
                         

After-tax loss per share attributable to The New Home Company Inc. related to inventory and joint venture impairments and loss on land sales:

                       
Basic   $ 0.56     $ 1.05     $ 0.07  
Diluted   $ 0.56     $ 1.05     $ 0.07  
                         

Loss per share attributable to The New Home Company Inc. related to deferred tax asset charge:

                       

Basic

    NA       NA       $ (0.15)  

Diluted

    NA       NA       $ (0.15)  

 

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Results of Operations

 

Net New Home Orders

 

   

Year Ended December 31,

 
         

Change

           

Change

       
   

2019

   

Amount

   

%

   

2018

   

Amount

   

%

   

2017

 

Net new home orders

                                                 
Southern California   288       (13 )     (4 )%     301     104       53 %   197  
Northern California   215       13       6 %     202     (13 )     (6 )%   215  
Arizona   29       (4 )     (12 )%     33     33       NA      

Total net new home orders

  532       (4 )     (1 )%     536     124       30 %   412  
                                                   

Monthly sales absorption rate per community (1)

                                             
Southern California   2.1       (0.1 )     (5 )%     2.2     (0.1 )     (4 )%   2.3  
Northern California   2.3       (0.4 )     (15 )%     2.7     (0.4 )     (13 )%   3.1  
Arizona   1.2       (0.5 )     (29 )%     1.7     NA       NA      
Total monthly sales absorption rate per community (1)   2.1       (0.2 )     (9 )%     2.3     (0.4 )     (15 )%   2.7  
                                                   
Cancellation rate   11 %     1 %     NA       10 %   1 %     NA     9 %
                                                   

Selling communities at end of year:

                                                 
Southern California   10       (3 )     (23 )%     13     3       30 %   10  
Northern California   9       4       80 %     5     (2 )     (29 )%   7  
Arizona   2             %     2     2       NA      

Total selling communities

  21       1       5 %     20     3       18 %   17  
                                                   

Average selling communities

                                                 
Southern California   11       (1 )     (8 )%     12     5       71 %   7  
Northern California   8       2       33 %     6           %   6  
Arizona   2             %     2     NA       NA     NA  

Total average selling communities

  21       1       5 %     20     7       54 %   13  
                                                   

 


(1)

Monthly sales absorption represents the number of net new home orders divided by the number of average selling communities for the period.

 

Net new home orders for the year ended December 31, 2019 totaled 532 and was down slightly from the prior year.  The 2019 order volume was impacted by weaker buyer demand in the first half the year that drove a year-over-year decrease in monthly sales absorption rates.  This gap in demand tightened in the 2019 third quarter, which we believe was driven in large part by lower interest rates and higher incentives, and resulted in year-over-year increases in net new orders for the final five months of 2019.  Additionally, a 5% increase in average selling communities partially offset the slower sales pace for 2019 compared to 2018.  During 2019, Northern California experienced the most community count growth with a 33% year-over-year increase in average selling communities and nine actively selling communities at the end of the year compared to only five at the end of 2018.  

 

Demand was strongest during 2019 for our more-affordable, entry-level product, which averaged a monthly sales pace of 3.3 per community compared to a total of 2.1 per community for the companywide average.  The 2019 monthly sales pace for our entry-level product was led by a new, popular community of attached court homes located in Southern California's Inland Empire and an existing community of single family detached homes located in a Northern California masterplan community in Lathrop.  Also in Northern California, two new entry level communities that opened late in the 2019 third quarter within a master plan in Vacaville experienced strong buyer demand and made significant contributions to the Company's 2019 total order activity.   

  

During the year ended December 31, 2019, the 15% decrease in Northern California's monthly absorption rate from 2018 was driven by Bay Area communities where current buyer affordability constraints impacted new orders compared to the strong sales volume experienced in 2018.  Southern California's monthly absorption rate for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to 2018 was relatively unchanged as we believe an overall run up in home prices and a slowdown in demand from foreign national buyers in the market continued to temper demand for our move-up and luxury product mostly within Orange County while our more affordable, entry level communities enjoyed a higher sales pace.  The Arizona monthly absorption rate for the year ended December 31, 2019 was down to 1.2 as compared to 1.7 for the prior year period primarily due a lack of inventory at our Belmont community in Gilbert, AZ which was nearly sold out as of the beginning of the 2019 third quarter.

 

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Net new home orders for the year ended December 31, 2018 were up 30% compared to 2017 as a result of a 54% increase in average selling communities, partially offset by a decline in the monthly sales absorption rate. Demand was healthy across our markets throughout the first half of 2018, however, buyer hesitancy emerged in the second half of 2018, particularly in the fourth quarter, which was spurred by higher interest rates and higher absolute home prices and resulted in an overall decline in sales per community for 2018.

 

Orders were up 53% in 2018 compared to 2017 for Southern California primarily driven by a 71% increase in average selling communities.  The increase in more affordably priced communities helped maintain Southern California's monthly sales absorption rate at 2.2 sales per community, nearly flat with the pace in 2017, as lower priced product was less impacted by the decrease in buyer demand experienced in 2018.  The decline in net new orders for Northern California was largely attributable to a 13% decrease in 2018 monthly sales absorption rate to 2.7 sales per community from 3.1 in 2017. Northern California benefited in 2017 from strong sales activity from high-demand communities that sold out during 2017, two of which were located in the Bay Area and one in Davis, CA. New for 2018, were contributions of 1.7 sales per month from our first wholly owned projects in Arizona which were largely driven by our Belmont community in Gilbert.

 

The Company's cancellation rate for 2019 was 11% as compared to 10% and 9% for 2018 and 2017, respectively.  Our cancellation rate has increased moderately with our transition to lower price points where buyers are often times more credit challenged than a luxury or move-up buyer. All of the communities that opened during the year ended December 31, 2019 offered base pricing of $600,000 or less.

 

 

Backlog

 

   

Year Ended December 31,

 
   

2019

   

2018

   

% Change

 
   

Homes

    Dollar Value    

Average Price

   

Homes

   

Dollar Value

   

Average Price

   

Homes

   

Dollar Value

   

Average Price

 
   

(Dollars in thousands)

 

Southern California

    72     $ 69,263     $ 962       90     $ 111,024     $ 1,234       (20 )%     (38 )%     (22 )%

Northern California

    66       41,973       636       68       59,847       880       (3 )%     (30 )%     (28 )%

Arizona

    11       14,567       1,324       33       36,200       1,097       (67 )%     (60 )%     21 %

Total

    149     $ 125,803     $ 844       191     $ 207,071     $ 1,084       (22 )%     (39 )%     (22 )%

 

   

Year Ended December 31,

 
   

2018

   

2017

   

% Change

 
   

Homes

    Dollar Value    

Average Price

   

Homes

   

Dollar Value

   

Average Price

   

Homes

   

Dollar Value

   

Average Price

 
   

(Dollars in thousands)

 

Southern California

    90     $ 111,024     $ 1,234       71     $ 93,955     $ 1,323       27 %     18 %     (7 )%

Northern California

    68       59,847       880       82       68,295       833       (17 )%     (12 )%     6 %
Arizona     33       36,200       1,097                       NA     NA     NA  

Total

    191     $ 207,071     $ 1,084       153     $ 162,250     $ 1,060       25 %     28 %     2 %

 

Backlog reflects the number of homes, net of cancellations, for which we have entered into sales contracts with customers, but for which we have not yet delivered the homes. The number of homes in backlog as of December 31, 2019 was down 22% as compared to 2018 primarily due a 15% increase in deliveries in 2019 driven by increased spec home deliveries and higher quarterly backlog conversion rates, partially offset by a higher number of backlog units to begin the year as compared to 2018.  Quarterly backlog conversion rates were up year-over-year for each the second, third and fourth quarters of 2019.  The increase in the conversion rates resulted from the Company's move to more affordably priced product, which generally has quicker build cycles, as well as the Company's success in selling and delivering a higher number of spec homes from these communities. The decline in backlog dollar value at December 31, 2019 from December 31, 2018 was due to 22% fewer homes in backlog and a 22% decrease in average selling price from the Company's shift to more affordable product.  In Northern California, homes in backlog shifted to more affordable product located in the Sacramento region for the year ended December 31, 2019 from higher-priced, Bay Area homes that comprised a significant portion of backlog units at December 31, 2018.  In Southern California, the average selling price of homes in backlog at the end of 2019 decreased as orders increased from communities located in the more-affordable Inland Empire compared to the prior year where backlog units were concentrated in higher-priced communities in Orange County and Los Angeles.  Backlog units and dollar value for Arizona at December 31, 2019 were down from the prior year primarily due to the near close-out at our Gilbert community, which had very little inventory remaining in the second half of 2019; however, the Arizona average selling price in backlog was up due to higher contract prices at this community at December 31, 2019.       

 

The number of homes in backlog at the end of 2018 was up 25% compared to 2017 due to a 30% increase in net new home orders from a higher average community count, and the impact of closing delays at a few communities. The 28% increase in backlog dollar value to $207.1 million at December 31 2018, was driven mostly by the increase in the number of homes in backlog, and to a lesser extent, a 2% increase in average selling price. Northern California average sales price was up 6% year-over-year due to sales price increases at one particular community in the Bay Area. This increase was partially offset by a decrease in Southern California average selling price related to the close-out of higher-priced communities and an increase in orders from more affordable communities during 2018.

 

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Table of Contents

 

Lots Owned and Controlled

 

   

December 31,

 
           

Change

           

Change

         
   

2019

   

Amount

   

%

   

2018

   

Amount

   

%

   

2017

 

Lots Owned

                                                       
Southern California     501       (125 )     (20 )%     626       63       11 %     563  
Northern California     682       (60