By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 11/8/19
Just outside his office door, Craig Bullock has been watching the finishing touches of paint go up on his new “Valley Homes” sign on Valley Drive. He’s nestled in between Oakwood Homes and Solitaire Homes, but says his business is focused on a slightly different market - making sure that those who want a space of their own can afford to start making their dream a reality.
Bullock, who sold his first mobile home 12 years ago, spent the last few years as the Operations Manager at Payless Homes, a little farther down on Valley Drive. When the owner unexpectedly passed away and the business shut down earlier this year, Bullock debated his next move. Turns out it was just down the street at 350 S. Valley Drive. His new business faces one of the newly completed road sections on Valley Drive.
And although he witnessed the drop in business of his previous employer during the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) road reconstruction project, undaunted, Bullock decided to take a headlong leap, buying 11 of the Payless Homes and
ordering more homes for his lot. He’s been working with a nearby local company, Able Sign Company, to build his sign, and Vista del Sol Construction to build his deck.
“Starting a small business at all is taking a chance, but for Valley Homes, it’s also an opportunity to help those stuck in the rent cycle,” said Bullock. “Our homes start in the $40,000 range and, unlike our competitors, we have nothing at or above $100,000. Down payments are low, and we can work with people who don’t have sterling credit. Our customers have average credit scores in the 580’s. We can make it happen for those first-time buyers at age 25, and those at age 75 who are looking to downsize.”
“We’ll sit down with people and their credit reports to help them figure out what works best for their situation,” he said. “It’s really gratifying to sit with people who cry with happiness when they realize they will finally have their own home. We don’t just sell homes, we make life-long friendships with people in our community.”
Valley Homes opened the first week of November, and Bullock is excited to make a few dreams come true for other members of the community. It’s that sense of community that brought him and his wife, Elizabeth Driggers, back to Las Cruces after a time in Albuquerque, and he looks forward to seeing his 4-month old daughter Maggie grow along with his business.
“Valley Drive is a main artery, and while it might take people some time to come back to use the street, they’ll appreciate the improvements and the businesses who’ve stuck it out and who have even opened a business like us and Zia Cafe,” said Bullock. “In Las Cruces, people value relationships built with small businesses and I think they’ll want a chance to have truly affordable housing from a local business, too. Valley Homes isn’t a huge corporation with owners who have never set foot in New Mexico. I’m at the dealership six days a week. I give my personal cell phone number to everyone that purchases a home from us, just in case they ever need anything. We’re all neighbors here.”
PHOTO 1: A new business is born on Valley Drive: Valley Homes owner Craig Bullock aims to make affordable housing truly affordable. Check out some of the new homes that could be a new start for you, just as they are a new start for a local small business.