Jason Cano as a young homebuilder learned the business from his father. He could have taken a traditional path in being employed by a construction company and working his way up.
The Harlingen native, as a fresh college graduate in 2004, went through several job interviews with national home building companies. He was offered various positions. It wasn’t for him, Cano decided. He wanted the freedom and latitude to take chances and seek opportunities as an entrepreneur.
It wasn’t easy as Cano recalls some rough times as a young builder, but he saw it through. Cano’s NEST Custom Homes of Harlingen is currently among the most active builders in what has become one of the hottest new home construction markets in the Rio Grande Valley. His NEST signs dot southwest Harlingen between Stuart Place and Dixieland roads as new homes go up.
Cano is anticipating 20 projects before the end of the third quarter of 2021. Planning is underway with 70 quarter-acre lots. He has also formed his own realty company and will begin hiring agents this summer.
“I wanted to pave my own path, to be independent, creative and to take chances,” Cano said. “It’s easy to get distracted and look for easier, safer opportunities, but I’ve always been able to reflect back on my original purpose, and it helped me stay on course.”
Harlingen Becomes A Growth Market
The success Cano is experiencing is rippling across Harlingen. The city has already far exceeded in fiscal year 2021 what it saw in 2020 when it comes to the value of residential permits. The value of those permits through mid-March of this fiscal year totaled $48 million. It significantly outpaces the $32.3 for the city’s entire 2020 fiscal year.
“We’re seeing growth throughout the entire city,” said Dan Serna, the Harlingen city manager, who mentioned a planned Treasure Hills development of 160 lots. “Folks want to be in an area with a great quality of life, lower cost of living, a good central location, and we offer all of those things.”
Serna cites infrastructure improvements as reasons that are contributing to the growth trends. This includes the 13 miles of new sidewalks going down in Harlingen, and recent improvements in city parks and hike-and-bike trails. Those factors are helpful as are low interest rates and available land. Cano said Harlingen for years was hampered by a scarcity of lots for new homes.
“There had been a vast shortage of lots in Harlingen,” Cano said. “Several local developers recognized this shortage and began planning new subdivisions, all of which you’re seeing now.”
The new home surge being seen is also a reflection that the local market – as well as the Valley as a whole – is finding that existing homes for sale are hard to find. The inventory of those homes is exceeding low and is a product of families holding on to properties, Cano and other builders said.
“Most buyers are finding it a better option to build custom rather than shop for months, only to have to settle for something they aren’t in love with,” Cano said. “With all the new lots aviliable in the southwest part of Harlingen, we’re beginning to see more clients moving forward with their custom plans.”
In Cano’s case, it’s a born-and-raised local builder who knows the market and was willing to take the chances to earn the opportunities a growing market is providing.