Toll Brothers acquires Storybook Homes

In the fall of 1974, a Marine named Wayne Laska was featured in the Review-Journal after completing training camp, one of many locals who appeared in the newspaper that day for completing their basic training.

Laska, who was 17 at the time and had been kicked out of high school, later entered the homebuilding industry in southern Nevada. Today, after decades in the business and on the verge of bankruptcy during the Great Recession, he has sold his business amid a boiling housing market.

Luxury housing developer Toll Brothers announced last week that it had acquired Laska-based company StoryBook Homes, saying the deal was “an exciting opportunity to quickly add to our already rapidly growing Las Vegas operations. “.

The terms were not disclosed.

Toll and StoryBook both sell a relatively small number of homes in southern Nevada. But the acquisition gives Toll a foothold in a more affordable slice of the market, broadening its pool of buyers as prices hit record highs in southern Nevada, and further consolidates the valley’s homebuilding industry. in the hands of national developers listed on the stock exchange.

“It’s time for us”

Gary Mayo, president of the Pennsylvania-based Toll Group, said in a statement to the Review-Journal that the company has “been expanding its product offering in Las Vegas and across the country for many years,” with base prices in southern Nevada from the upper range of $ 400,000 to over $ 1.3 million.

The acquisition of StoryBook gives Toll five additional communities and more than 550 housing sites, further diversifying its “offerings and prices in the market,” Mayo said.

According to last week’s press release, Las Vegas-based StoryBook “primarily serves first-time shoppers and those on the move,” with prices ranging from $ 200,000 to over $ 600,000.

Its employees will remain with the company and continue to operate under the StoryBook brand, Toll said.

Laska said the buyout did not include The Mercer, a luxury apartment complex he developed in the Southwest Valley.

StoryBook has built more than 1,700 homes since its inception, said Laska, who founded the business with his wife, Catherine, in 2003. He noted he was 64 and said he and his wife had spoken. to sell in recent years, adding that they want to spend more time together.

“Now is the time for us, and it’s a good time because it’s such a cheap market,” he said.

“Go nowhere fast”

The Las Vegas real estate market has accelerated over the past year with record prices and rapid sales, in large part thanks to lower mortgage rates that have allowed buyers to stretch their budgets.

Overall, home builders reported 7,348 net sales – newly signed sales contracts minus cancellations – this year through June in southern Nevada. The toll represented 345 net sales and StoryBook generated 80, according to Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research.

The valley’s residential construction industry is dominated by domestic builders such as KB Home, Lennar Corp. and PulteGroup. More local builders were in the area, but due to a mix of busts and buyouts, the number declined.

StoryBook hardly managed to get that far. Laska said it almost closed its doors three times and almost filed for bankruptcy during the Great Recession a decade ago after the bubble burst in the mid-2000s and the evaporation of homebuilders’ sales.

Laska has longstanding ties to the region. He moved to Las Vegas from New Jersey around the age of 10, attended Cashman Middle School and Clark High School, and joined the Marines as a teenager.

“I got kicked out of high school. … I wasn’t going anywhere fast, ”he said.

He spent four years in the Marines, began working in home construction in 1985 for the Lewis family, went to college, and joined the developer now known as KB Home after acquiring Lewis Homes in 1999.

He resigned in 2002, months after his youngest son was diagnosed with cancer as a child.

Her son is now 23 and has just joined Toll Brothers, Laska said.

Contact Eli Segall at or 702-383-0342. To follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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