About Universal Homes
The Company, over a 35 year history has built a variety of properties ranging from attached townhomes and condominiums to high-end, semi custom, single family homes. Through the early 1980’s, the Company concentrated almost exclusively on high-end semi-custom homes in Glendale, north Phoenix, and Scottsdale, Arizona.
In October 1985, the Anderson family sold Universal Homes, Inc. to Coventry Financial, Inc. At the time, Coventry Financial was a holding company that owned and operated Coventry Homes and Fairmount Mortgage. Coventry Homes was building in the Phoenix and Colorado Springs metropolitan areas, while Fairmount Mortgage provided permanent financing to the Coventry Homebuyers. Coventry Financial and its operating entities, were established and owned by Joseph Contadino in 1980.
Joseph Contadino began his career in home building in 1971 as the chief financial officer of Continental Homes in Phoenix, Arizona. At that time Continental Homes was a wholly owned subsidiary of American Financial Corporation, a conglomerate based in Cincinnati, Ohio and was developing 4 large master planned communities with substantial other holdings. At the beginning of 1976 the housing markets were suffering a major downturn and American Financial decided to liquidate their investment in the housing business. Mr. Contadino was appointed President of Continental Homes with the task of liquidating the company. In the process of selling off properties and building out communities, the company began producing profits and within 3 years became one of the Valley’s largest home builders.
In 1980, Mr. Contadino resigned his position at Continental Homes to form Coventry Financial, and Coventry Homes. He began with three employees and ten lots with a total asset value of $180,000. Within six years, Coventry grew to be the fourth largest home builder in the Phoenix area with an asset base in excess of $100,000,000. At its peak production level in 1986, Coventry sold, built, and closed approximately 900 homes with a gross sales volume of approximately $115,000,000.
In 1985 Universal Homes enjoyed a dominant position as a higher end/semi custom home builder in the Phoenix market area. Coventry Financial, wanting to enter this segment of the home building business, acquired Universal Homes and added it to its other home building companies.
In December 1990, as the home building industry was again suffering a severe downturn and as many home builders were going out of business, Mr. Contadino sold the assets of Universal and Coventry Homes to the Del Webb Corporation. Mr. Contadino and his management staff were hired by Del Webb and became the founders of Del Webb’s entry into the conventional home building business operating as Del Webb Coventry Homes. From January 1990 through June 1998 the Coventry/Universal management team applying their expertise and the capital of Del Webb Corporation, grew to approximately 30% of Del Webb’s $1 billion in annual revenues. Coventry continued its tradition of focusing its attention on its products and fulfilling its home buyer expectations throughout multiple markets in the Southwest. In June 1998, J.D. Power and Associates recognized Coventry as one of the top three home builders in the Phoenix area for customer satisfaction. Mr. Contadino was named one of two Executive Vice Presidents of Del Webb in June 1995.
In January 1998, Mr. Contadino, again responding to his entrepreneurial instincts, resigned his positions at the Del Webb Corporation and re-established Universal Homes as an active home builder in the Phoenix area. Universal was contacted by out of state investors and agreed to act as a substitute builder to revive two of their high-end non performing condominium communities in north Scottsdale. (Grayhawk and Troon North). Modifications were instituted in the marketing plans, the product design, floor plan layout, amenity design and construction techniques. Within 2 years the communities were sold out and closed out.
In July 1998, Mr. Contadino, along with the Fain Family, formed Granville Development Company, Inc. of Prescott Valley, Arizona to undertake the development of a 1,200+ acre Master Planned community spanning Glassford Hill Road in Prescott Valley, Arizona. The entitlement process was completed in October, 2001, and ground was broken for the first phase of development of the Granville Master Planned Community. The first home closing occurred on September 23, 2002. During the period 2002 thru 2006 Granville, like many other communities flourished and saw annual absorption of approximately 200 homes per year. During these times of escalating prices and unnatural demand many builders expanded their operations, took on substantial debt and didn’t plan for the rainy day. Universal Homes concentrated all of its focus on Granville and resisted the temptation to expand. Having experienced the ever changing housing business for over 40 years, management knew that the growth and price levels could not be sustained.
Universal instituted provisions in its purchase contract during this period to restrict home buyers from leasing or reselling their homes for two years. This proactive decision was an attempt to avoid sales to investors that were focusing on “flipping” their new home for a profit. The company was only interested in selling to permanent residents that didn’t view their home as an investment vehicle. We believe this effort greatly reduced the number of foreclosures in Granville and a higher market value than competing homes in the market place.
2008 came and everyone knows the history. The new home construction business all but disappeared with thousands of builders going out of business and millions of investors and homeowners losing their properties to foreclosure. A very high percentage of homes built between 2002 and 2008 were foreclosed. These homes were then recycled back into the market place for sale as values plummeted.
Because of Universal Homes’ management experience, the company carried very little debt and was not only able to weather the times but also expand the amenities of Granville. From 2008 through 2012 a new fitness center, swimming pool and barbeque/picnic area with playground equipment was constructed. Universal did not give in to the “sales at any price” of homes at the then depressed home prices.
As market conditions started improving in 2012, absorption in the Granville community was restored to the pre-recession level of approximately 200 homes per year. As of August 2019, there are approximately 2,200 of the approved 3,400 residential homes included in Granville. The Community is currently working to finalize the last of 3 Community Centers. This final Center totaling 5 acres includes a 5,000 square foot Fitness Center, a 4,000 Arts and Crafts Building, Basketball courts, Tennis Courts, Pickelball Courts, Bath Houses, 5 Ramada's, a 25-Meter laned competition and play pool and a children's playground area. The facility also has rooms to grow and add additional amenities in the future. The Community has an abundant number of improved lots to support it's 5 separate product lines for several years. The final two phases of Granville are currently being planned and will see development activity within the next 12 months. Granville will continue its dominate position as the most successful Master Planned Community in central Arizona.
Universal Homes currently offers five separate product lines with 23 different single level floor plans and 17 furnished model homes. These product lines range in size from 1,222 square feet to 3,066 square feet. As always, Universal Homes is focusing on attractive, livable floor plans with a high degree of quality.