In its second overseas homebuilding venture, a trading company owned by Ryland Group announced yesterday a joint venture to build single-family houses in St. Petersburg, Russia.
"Ryland as a corporation has long-term plans to establish an international presence in many places in the world, but Russia happens to present unique and strong housing opportunities," said Joseph Barker, vice president of Ryland Trading Ltd., the subsidiary handling the deal. In its first overseas venture, the company provided materials for houses in Israel.
Columbia-based Ryland is targeting two markets in the former Leningrad, said Vaike O'Grady, a Ryland spokeswoman. Homebuyers are expected to be Russian citizens with hard currency, or Americans and Europeans who are moving to Russia in increasing numbers because of business opportunities there.
"This is going to be a long-term commitment on our part," Ms. O'Grady said of the joint venture agreement worked out with the Russian group A/O Lidesm, Lenstroidetal and Fasad. However, she noted that the duration and extent of the agreement will depend on the market response to Ryland's homes.
Under terms of the agreement, which were not disclosed in detail, Ryland Trading will begin shipping prefabricated housing products, including wall panels, roof trusses and floor joists, to St. Petersburg this summer.
Ms. O'Grady said the first shipments will be used to build seven to 10 models and that homes will be sold on the basis of the models, just as they are in U.S. subdivisions. Construction will be done by Russian workers trained by Ryland. Eventually, Ryland plans to build a plant there, Ms. O'Grady said.
"Obviously, Ryland now has enough capacity in the states to provide a significant supply of these panelized homes in Russia," said Bentley Offutt, president of Offutt Securities, a Baltimore-based institutional research and brokerage firm that tracks Ryland.
Most Russians live in relatively small apartments built of concrete. In contrast, Ryland will be using wood products to build single-family homes and town homes that range in size from 850 to 1,300 square feet.
The two- to four-bedroom homes will be specially designed for the Russian market -- with stucco exteriors and tile or metal roofs.
And in the new-home development a dozen miles north of St. Petersburg, Ryland will introduce several features to the market, including garages.