Australian Homebuilder Henley Set for U.S. Market Entry

Supported by international investment giant Sumitomo, Henley announces intention to invest heavily in Puget Sound region

Mar 21, 2011, 11:00 ET from Henley

SEATTLE, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Backed by Sumitomo Forestry Group, a member of the 320 year old Japanese conglomerate family of companies, Australia's leading home builder, Henley, has announced that it is entering the U.S. residential home market in Seattle. Henley/Sumitomo began purchasing land in the Seattle area in advance of construction this summer.

Henley/Sumitomo is a leading international homebuilder, with operations in Asia and Australia, construction in Washington state marks its first activity in the U.S. market. The group has taken over the existing Sumitomo operations of Bennett Homes, an established Seattle home building company.

Backed by more than $100 million in investment, the company owns property in King, Pierce and Sammamish Counties and continues to aggressively acquire land throughout the Puget Sound region. Henley/Sumitomo plans initial construction of 500 homes in 2011/2012 within the region, with a projected economic impact of 1,600 jobs. Seattle's low unemployment rate, large population of highly paid workers, and presence of major companies make it an attractive target for the international builder.

Current construction rates indicate strong demand for new construction and, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median price of King County houses sold in February was $334,000, well above the January national median price of $158,800, reported by the National Association of Realtors. Despite an increase of more than 18 percent in 2010, Washington State home construction rates remain at less than half that seen in 2005.

"Seattle is the ideal place for a U.S. market entry. The region is projected to grow by half a million people over the next ten years and our global experience will give us an edge over local homebuilders competing to build new homes," said Henley Managing Director Peter Hayes. "Washington state weathered the housing collapse better than other major U.S. cities and Henley is making a bet the region is poised for recovery. Our business model is based on innovative design and upgraded inclusions with efficiencies gained from the Japanese and Australian operations enabling highly competitive pricing to the homebuyer."

Internationally known for a commitment to sustainable design, Henley developed Australia's first zero emission home for the everyday family. Unlike many homebuilders, the company has a sustained research and development effort focused on its design and construction approach. The end result is a quality, sustainably built home that reduces environmental impact and delivers long-term cost savings to the customer.

"Henley builds the type of home that is attractive to the Seattle homebuyer," said Hayes. "We've continually pushed the boundaries in sustainable design and construction, our company is committed to international philanthropy efforts, and the quality of our homes is unmatched."

About Henley

The partnership between the Japanese Sumimoto Forestry Group and Australia-based Henley builds over 10,000 homes annually. Working on three continents, Henley/Sumitomo is a leader in quality and design, crafting homes with local character and international style. A pioneer in sustainable design, Henley was the first major Australian builder to introduce 5-star energy rated homes and the first to build a zero emission home designed for the everyday family. Henley/Sumitomo's headquarters in Seattle will be used as a springboard into the United State's west coast housing market.

Media Contacts: Kyle Mahoney, Nyhus Communications for Henley Homes; 206.323.3733;