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VOL. 11 | NO. 32 | Saturday, August 11, 2018

Garner Framed Magnolia Homes’ Success by Putting Buyers First

By Michael Waddell

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For local homebuilder and developer Karen Garner, starting her own business 31 years ago as a single mother with two children was filled with challenges, but being a woman in a male-dominated industry did not turn out to be one of them.

“When I first started out with my business and being a woman, I didn’t know how I would be received,” she said. “But it turned out that I was received with open arms by everyone, and I think by being a woman it actually helped me because I believe everyone saw how much I put my whole heart into every home. And I still do.”

After working with her then-husband in the homebuilding industry for 10 years and getting divorced in the mid-1980s, she decided it was time to start her own company.

Karen Garner, founder and president of Magnolia Homes, sitting in the kitchen of a model home in the Shepherd's Creek subdivision in Collierville. Garner started the company over 30 years ago and has seen recent success with the increasing Collierville population. (Memphis News/Houston Cofield)

“I’ve always loved building. I love every aspect of it,” Garner said. “It’s so rewarding to see how happy you can make someone when they see the finished product of their new dream home.”

During her time in the industry, Garner estimates she has built around 900 homes. She started out in Cordova, building three homes in her first year, and then went into Lakeland, where she developed the Cool Springs and Herons Ridge neighborhoods.

Today, Magnolia Homes develops its own lots and is also the exclusive builder in select communities for lots developed by Crews Development.

“Magnolia Homes and I have a great working relationship,” said Jason Crews, owner of Crews Development. “I have partnered exclusively with Magnolia in some of my residential developments because of their commitment to their customer, from start to finish.”

Last year, Magnolia built approximately 56 homes, and this year the company could approach 60 – primarily within three communities in Collierville. Sales there have been exceptionally strong for the past several years. Shepherd’s Creek features custom luxury homes starting from the $800,000s to more than $1 million.

“Outdoor spaces and barn doors seem to be a favorite with those homes right now, and we do a lot of planking on walls and ceilings,” Garner said.

Karen Garner (left), founder and president of Magnolia Homes, talks through the final paper work with home buyers Eric Gresham (right) and Lindsey Baker before closing on a house. (Memphis News/Houston Cofield)

Over the years, Magnolia has developed seven Memphis-area communities and built in 33 different neighborhoods.

“One of the slogans for our company is ‘That Extra Touch,’ and we try to put that into every home.,” Garner said. “I want the quality to shine. I always try to build a home that will have as small amount of maintenance as possible.”

The company is also currently active in Rossville, where Garner and her son, Reggie, developed Saunder’s Creek together. Reggie Garner joined the company in 2000, and today he is a partner in the business.

“Karen and Reggie put their homeowner first,” Crews said. “Their company builds not just a high quality house, but also a high quality home, and they continually strive to deliver excellence in both their quality of home and the customer experience.”

Magnolia employs six people in the office along with six superintendents/builders.

Giving back to the local community is important to the Garners, and Magnolia does so by providing support to the Memphis Grizzlies, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Methodist Healthcare Foundation, JDRF, Memphis Child Advocacy, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Hope Church.

Looking at the future, Karen Garner hopes to continue to be able to find enough developable land to keep a steady stream of lots for years down the line.

“We always have our eyes open for purchasing land,” she said. “One thing we’re very big on is having a pipeline, and to have that you’ve got to have land because development can take a year to 18 months to go through the municipality for approval. We try to go out with our pipeline up to 10 years.”

She plans to keep developing as well as building, because finding lots has become much more of a challenge in recent years and because it allows for more control over when lots will be ready for construction.

PROPERTY SALES 101 603 9,602
MORTGAGES 92 538 10,616
BUILDING PERMITS 215 1,282 20,958
BANKRUPTCIES 51 408 6,108