Real Estate

Century Homebuilders builds ‘communities that people can enjoy’

Sergio Pino, the president, CEO and founder of Century Homebuilders Group, at the company’s Midtown Doral residential complex sales center on Aug. 8, 2016.
Sergio Pino, the president, CEO and founder of Century Homebuilders Group, at the company’s Midtown Doral residential complex sales center on Aug. 8, 2016. pfarrell@MiamiHerald.com

The company: Miami-based Century Homebuilders Group, one of the country’s largest Hispanic residential builders, has constructed 57 residential communities in Miami-Dade County since it was founded in the mid-1990s, including 15,663 condominiums, homes and townhouses.

The family-owned firm sells all the residential units it builds. But in multi-storied condos, it leases commercial properties on the ground floor to maintain quality tenants and attractive neighborhoods.

Like other regional homebuilders, Century suffered huge financial losses during the Great Recession but eventually emerged under the same ownership. Today it continues to build at a pace that reflects current market demand, catering mostly to middle- and upper-middle-income buyers.

“We plan and build communities that people can enjoy,” said Sergio Pino, the founder, CEO and president of Century Homebuilders.

“Since I can remember, I always wanted to be a builder,” Pino said. “I love doing what I do — building things.”

Century currently has seven ongoing projects in Miami-Dade but is making a big push in Doral with its Midtown Doral complex. Located about three miles from downtown Doral, the project will eventually have more than 1,500 condos, fitness centers, commercial space for stores, two office buildings, a club, 300 condo-hotel suites (similar to time shares) and outdoor spaces. Phase 1 of the project (more than 500 units in four buildings with elegant lobbies), is already nearly 90 percent sold.

“Doral is growing very fast and many people who work here want to live nearby,” Pino said. “We have a good price mix — from $289,000 to $780,000 per unit.” Century also sells homes in other parts of Miami-Dade for up to $2.4 million.

Getting started: Pino, who arrived in Miami from Cuba in 1969, began working at a family-owned plumbing business in 1977. “I got a little tired of selling toilets,” he said, “and I was always interested in construction and architecture.” In the mid-’90s, he started a construction business with financing from family and friends and in 1998 bought Weitzer Homebuilders, which later became Century Homebuilders.

When Miami’s real estate market collapsed in 2008, Century and other builders saw demand for their properties plummet, while values for completed units sharply declined and credit disappeared. Century, like others, had to make severe adjustments — reducing construction, selling at large discounts and suffering multimillion-dollar losses. “For five years after 2009, we were fixing it up,” Pino said. “We survived and began building again, at a much more moderate pace.”

The difference: Century’s focus in Doral, for example, is building attractive communities that offer a broad range of amenities. “I don’t go for high-density projects, and I don’t oppose neighbors when I’m building,” Pino said. “I can do better with fewer units. I want to build nice neighborhoods that residents and visitors can enjoy. Building communities the right way is important. I take a lot of pride in my work.” Century built its first residences in Doral in 1999.

Sales: Total sales in 2015 were about $140 million, up sharply from the previous year. “2016 looks like about $160 million,” Pino said.

Competitors: Lennar, Codina, Terra and others.

Glitch: “I make mistakes,” said Pino, who adopts a hands-on approach in designing all his units. “I look at kitchens, at other spaces, and think, ‘I should have done this.’ I feel we can do better all the time.”

Outside views: Century was named one of the Top 100 Hispanic Companies by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and has received acknowledgments from other business associations. Pino also received Florida International University’s South Florida Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

What customers say: Hirosi Kurata, who is studying to take the medical boards here, bought a 3-bedroom condo at Midtown Doral during the pre-construction period three years ago. “Since it was during pre-construction, the price was very attractive,” said Kurata, who moved into his unit several months ago. He also looked at apartments around Brickell, and was turned off by the traffic problems. “This is a great location … it’s close to the Turnpike, has restaurants and other things to do. If you don’t want to drive downtown, there’s a trolley in Doral. And if we have a family later, the schools here are good.”

Mario Randor, who moved here from Venezuela with his wife and two children, likes the fact that the complex is well located, near downtown Miami and the airport, and has good schools nearby. “The quality and detail work [of the condo] are excellent,” said Randor, who runs a Spanish-language news and opinion website, www.ojoglobalnoticias.com. “We looked at a lot of condominiums, but we wanted to live in Doral.” One special feature that attracted him: The condos are wired so that residents can remotely control lights, air conditioning and other appliances, as well as lock or unlock doors.

Challenges: “I believe there is going to be an adjustment in the market,” Pino said. “There is too much supply.” Century and other developers depend on local and international buyers. “We attract many clients from places like Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil, but when these countries have an economic hiccup, we suffer.”

Outlook: Century plans to continue growing, but at a more moderate scale. “We adjust the pace of building across our properties to meet market demand,” Pino said. “We gear all our communities to local markets and we have a niche market in Doral. The city has about 55,000 residents today and the population is expected to reach 80,000 by 2020. People like to live near where they work, and we’re building to meet that demand.”

Century Homebuilders Group

Business: Acquires land to develop and build residential communities and commercial property in Miami-Dade County. Century has acquired, developed or managed more than 50 residential communities with more than 15,000 homes in the Miami area. The firm, which suffered huge losses during the collapse of the South Florida real estate market, survived the Great Recession and is now building homes at a slower pace than in past years.

Headquarters: 782 NW 42nd Ave., Miami.

Founded: in Miami in 1995.

Leadership: Sergio Pino, founder, CEO and president.

Employees: 25 full-time. Also 400-500 currently working on Century projects.

Ownership: Family of Sergio Pino.

Website: http://centuryhomebuilders.com/

Source: Century Homebuilders Group

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