Lennar’s Bad News Bears

Pub date June 26, 2007
SectionPolitics Blog

Marc McGuire, a tile contractor from San Diego, and CALPASC’s Brad Diede on CNBC this spring to discuss accusations that Lennar has been extorting its contractors

A few months ago, we reported how Lennar had been giving contractors a choice between a rock or a hard place: reduce their unpaid invoices by up to 20 percent—or be excluded from bidding work for a minimum of six months.
Today comes word that the company, which is poised to build condos on most of San Francisco’s underdeveloped lands, including Bayview Hunter’s Point and the decommissioned Hunters Point Shipyard, has just posted a second quarter loss–and it is expecting more losses this year.
Blaming high inventories and dropping real estate prices, and with his company reporting losses of $1.55 per share, Lennar President and Chief Executive Stuart Miller announced, “As we look to our third quarter and the remainder of 2007, we continue to see weak, and perhaps deteriorating, market conditions.”

This time last year, the nation’s biggest home builder was posting a profit of $324.7 million, or $2 per share. But Lennar not alone in its real estate woes. As its quarterly revenue slips 37 percent to $2.88 billion (compared to $4.58 billion this time last year,) the National Association of Realtors reports that sales of existing homes fell for a third straight month in May, the median sales price declined for a record 10th consecutive month and the inventory of unsold homes reached its highest level in 15 years.

Or as Miller put it, ” The supply of new and existing homes has continued to increase resulting in declining home prices across our markets.”

And here comes the part that should really sound the alarms in San Francisco, where a large number of subcontractors look to Lennar for their daily bread. Asked what Lennar intends to do about its financial picture, Miller said his company is “focused on expenses, reducing construction costs and pushing sales to manage inventory.”

With Mayor Gavin Newsom having hastily amended the BVHP redevelopment plan so the Navy could hand the hazardous shipyard over to Lennar for clean up, (despite the company’s ongoing problems monitoring asbestos dust on an adjacent parcel of land), all so he can try and keep the 49ers in town, here’s hoping all the agencies that regulate and oversee Lennar, and not just the local impacted communities, will be watching this project like hawks.