First published on Linkedin May 7, 2019
For the typical Barbadian, owning a home is still high on the list of desired achievements. In the 70s and 80s as the middle class grew, ‘home’ was changing. There was a shift from small movable wooden cottages, called chattel houses, to homes built with concrete blocks, referred to locally as ‘wall houses’. As the 90s approached, this trend was already exploding as documented in the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) 2001 case study, An Analysis of Economic and Social Development in Barbados: A Model for Small Island Developing States.
“The proportion of wooden houses to total houses for the entire country declined from 75.3 per cent in 1970 to 39.9 per cent in 1990. While wooden houses still accounted for the single largest category of houses, the growth of concrete and wood and concrete houses was spectacular over the period. In 1970, concrete block houses were 10.8 per cent of total houses as opposed to 35.5 per cent in 1990.”[UN ECLAC, 2001] p.92]
Enter real estate development company Apex Construction Inc. in 1988, building wall houses suited to the budget of the typical new middle class. I first knew of Apex when my older sister’s workmate and friend became one of the first young adults I knew to own a home. She was already married and had a young son. Theirs was a new build by Apex in a new residential development in St.Thomas, a central parish in the island.
Today Apex is 30 years into the market and has grown to include sister company, Green Leaf Realty Inc. - a fact I only discovered during my own house hunt a few years ago. Where the company thrives is in constructing well-appointed housing solutions priced between BBD$235,000 (USD$117,500) and BBD$395,000 (US$197,500).
While I didn’t end up with an Apex home, nor do I believe that the company creates a great deal of hoorah around its brands’ images, my personal experience and observation over the years has led me to add Apex to my list of favourite Bajan brands. Here’s what stands out for me.
Market knowledge - For the average middle class family juggling mounting expenses but desiring a home they can be proud of in a community they feel safe in, Apex seems to have figured out a model to contain costs while giving the homeowner flexibility to make changes when they can afford to. From finances to finishes to needs and lifestyle, three decades of experience with the consumer has informed Apex well.
They see themselves as advisors in the home buying process - During my encounter with Apex/Green Leaf, I was comforted by the level of hand holding and guidance offered. How the needs of my bank would be coordinated with the requirements of Apex as the builder/developer/realtor was detailed. Bottom line, they could answer my questions. It was clear that the company had developed a style for helping potential home buyers navigate the often arduous process. It was also clear that from the bank’s perspective Apex had a sound reputation.
Signature designs - Like them or not you can always tell an Apex home. Perhaps the designs are the product of arriving at the best balance of cost, layout and functionality. But whether it’s a two, three or four bedroom, a single storey or two-storey home, you know it’s Apex.
Diversifying the product/moving with the times - Bajans like to be on trend and townhouses are a more recent trend, but usually at the higher end of the market - over BBD$500K. Within the last five years however, Apex has added semi-detached homes/townhomes in the lower/mid budget region of $235,000 to its inventory. Being ‘on-trend’ just got more affordable.
Brand experience - With the addition of Green Leaf Realty as the “exclusive sales representatives” (company website) of Apex, the company is now able to manage its client experience seamlessly through the building and buying stages. For the prospective buyer, it’s so much more convenient to work with a single entity and in fact I think this gives Apex a unique position and competitive advantage in its chosen market. It wins on brand experience.
So that’s my assessment. What’s yours?
More insights on the podcast
I interviewed Managing Director of Apex Construction Inc. for more insights. Listen here.