Diamond Homes plans March 24 celebration

Mar. 17—A local business whose mission it is to provide quality, affordable homes to local families is finally getting a home of its own.

Diamond Homes, which has been selling manufactured home and land packages since 2020, will have a grand opening March 24 to celebrate its new location at 7561 S. U.S. Highway 385. The celebration will be from noon to 6 p.m. and will feature food and beverages, as well as music.

Since 2020, the manufactured home/land sales firm had been displaying homes and officing out of a local trucking company located south of Odessa, off South U.S. Highway 385.

"When we first started we had three homes, and my husband said we could stay there (at his trucking firm) for six months," recalled Arilene Carrasco, CEO of Diamond homes.

Carrasco laughs when she recalls how the shared space arrangement could prove complicated at times, like when her business was moving homes on and off the lot, while her husband's trucks were coming and going. Call it an interesting traffic jam of sorts.

"Now I have 15 (homes) there, and that's when my husband said, 'OK, that's enough; you need to buy your own property,'" she said. "At the grand opening of our new location, we'll have 18 models ready to sell."

It's a far cry for someone who up until a few years ago didn't even know much about either manufactured homes or whether it was even the right time to launch such a business.

"I have always loved land," Carrasco said. "I could just sit and watch the land, and I would think of all the things I could do with that land. I knew I wanted to be in real estate, I just didn't know what area of real estate I wanted to be involved in."

So, she started out just finding land to buy and then resell.

"At the time I was just buying land," she recalled. "I would drive around or cold call looking for land to buy and then flip. I started getting calls from manufactured home dealers asking about my land and it made me curious."

Carrasco said she had never known much about the manufactured home industry. So, she decided to find out more and stopped by to visit with a dealer. She said the dealer did not have time for her, but a salesman took her aside as she was leaving.

"I just didn't want to sell manufactured homes, I wanted to control the whole process," she said, explaining she wanted to provide the land and infrastructure as well. She wanted to provide a home with a sense of permanency, not just some trailer that had to be moved from lot to lot. The salesman referred her to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs which operates licensing for manufactured home retail brokers and installers. Carrasco said she Googled the department to find out more.

Well, one thing led to another and a few months later — March 2020 — Carrasco was driving back to Odessa from San Antonio, having passed her state exam with a 96 and secured her manufactured home retail broker and installer's license. It was on the drive home when she received a call from her husband telling her of shortages of toilet paper and the like at local stores. And so began the COVID pandemic, just as she was planning to start her new business.

"So, I was scared," she recalled. "I wondered if this was the right time to start a business."

But she persisted, opening later that year in offices at her husband's trucking company at 143 E. Blue Diamond St. At the time, Carrasco's inventory of three homes were stored on the same lot as her husband's trucks, and she and her staff of six shared office space with her husband and his employees.

Well, in spite of the pandemic, Carrasco's business grew. Since its first year, Diamond Homes sales have grown tenfold.

Carrasco said what sets her business apart is that she offers manufactured home and land packages. She has secured tracts of land in the area and offers plots along with the homes with financing. It's just like buying a conventional home, complete with utilities and infrastructure in a new subdivision.

But what is different is the price. Carrasco pointed out that manufactured home and land packages are very affordable. And the fact that the homes are sold along with the land means the homes appreciate in value, just like a conventional home, she said.

Carrasco explained these homes tend to cost less per square footage than conventional homes because they are built in factories, where due to economies of scale, manufacturers are able to produce between six and eight units a day.

This means businesses such as Carrasco's are targeting a critical niche for affordable housing in a Permian Basin market that has seen its challenges in recent years in offering homes in the lower price point range — and enough of them.

But she is quick to add that just because these homes cost less, doesn't mean they are cheap.

"I get a lot of people knocking on walls," she said of potential clients who walk through one of her homes. "It's sheetrock, just like in a regular home. These are built to state codes. They are homes; not trailers."

Carrasco said Diamond Homes works with seven different banks to arrange financing of their home/land sales, loans that tend to be shorter in term than financing of conventional homes. Taxes are less, as well, she added.

All in all, Carrasco said, it is a way to achieve the dream of homeownership that is attracting more clients everyday — everyone from young first-time homebuyers to people who never thought they would be able to own their own home.

And that is why she loves what she does. Carrasco said it is not unusual for her to get emotional when turning over the keys to a new home to a family. She recalls one case in which the woman "told me I've changed her life."

"She said, 'I'm able to say this is MY home now!' That's when I started crying."

Now, as her business continues to grow, Carrasco smiles when she thinks about Diamond Homes moving into its news location:

"Now my own business has its own home."