The Big Story Blog

View on Rottlund, from a national industry watcher

Posted at 4:09 PM on November 18, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Housing and mortgages

Boyce Thompson, editorial director with the trade publication Builder, posted today on the Rottlund Homes liquidation.

He had some interesting perspective and data that we hadn't seen anywhere else in the discussion today. Rottlund was 83rd last year in Builder's national ranking of home builders.

Here are some excerpts from Thompson's piece:

The company's finances were complicated by a business model predicated on attached housing, which made up 284 of its 334 sales in 2010. Lenders were unwilling to speculate on the sale of attached projects, which often requires the start of construction before all the units are sold.

Rottlund is among the few high-profile home building firms that have gone out of business in the last year, after a raft of bankruptcies and liquidations in 2008 through 2009.

Rottlund's focus on townhomes and condominiums helped the company become the largest home builder in Minneapolis in the mid-1990s and one of the largest builders in the entire country.

According to our BUILDER 100 list, Rottlund was the 40th largest home builder in the country in 2002, a high-water mark for the company. Rottlund closed 1,641 homes that year, three-quarters of them attached, with $319 million in sales.

Rottlund was the sixth-largest builder in the Minneapolis MSA last year, selling 190 homes. Though permits fell during the first half of the year, the Minneapolis market is among the healthiest in the country this year, according to Hanley Wood Market Intelligence. Home prices have stabilized and permits levels are projected to rise strongly next year.

That last point is worth repeating: By at least one measure, the Twin Cities metro area is looking like one of the healthiest housing markets in the nation. Too late, though, for Rottlund.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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