2024 Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award Winner: Pat Neal

From an early age, Pat Neal, founder and chairman of Sarasota, Florida–based Neal Communities, recalls his father teaching him “land is forever.” But as developers, most land opportunities and transactions typically involve building homes and communities on those parcels after purchase, opposed to preserving them for future generations. For Neal, he’s in the business for both.

It all started during a family vacation. Neal’s father was diving for Florida lobster—bug hunting he called it—in Big Pine Key. When he came to the surface of the water near the southeast corner of the island, he noticed a for-sale sign. While the family visited the area every summer together, this time his father “spotted more than lobsters, he saw an opportunity.”

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Hearthstone and BUILDER Celebrate 25 Years of the Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award

Ahead of this year’s announcement, learn more about each of the winners and their charity passions from the last decade.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the annual Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award—sponsored Hearthstone and BUILDER—recognizes home builders and developers who demonstrate a lifetime commitment to public service.

Since its inception in 1999, the award has contributed $7.65 million to various deserving charities, making it the single largest charitable award program in the home building industry.

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Sekisui House and M.D.C. Holdings Announce Combination to Create a Top Five Homebuilder in the U.S.

Moelis & Company LLC and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities are acting as financial advisors to Sekisui House. Hearthstone, Inc. is acting as real estate advisor to Sekisui House. Morrison Foerster LLP is acting as a legal advisor to Sekisui House.

Vestra Advisors, LLC is acting as exclusive financial advisor to MDC and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is acting as MDC’s legal advisor. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP is also assisting MDC as a legal advisor.

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Owners of Sterling Ranch welcome Hearthstone as new partner to recapitalize thriving community.

The Smethills family began working on Sterling Ranch with Joy Burns in 2001. Today marks a new chapter.

Sterling Ranch, CO (June 27, 2022) – Joy Resides Here. After over twenty one years, the Smethills family is pleased to welcome Hearthstone as their financial partner to recapitalize the thriving master planned community.

The Smethills family will continue to be an owner, the manager, and continue their vision of Sterling Ranch, as they have always done.

Brock Smethills, President of Sterling Ranch Development Company stated:”We have known Hearthstone for many years, and they bring an unparalleled national residential real-estate experience and perspective. Hearthstone’s multi-billion-dollar financial capability will bring added capital that will continue to establish Sterling Ranch as the preeminent Denver community well into the future. Hearthstone believes in and supports our focus on delivering a sustainable lifestyle that is based on the values of joy, family, wellness, and stewardship. Sterling Ranch continues to embody stewardship and sustainability into the overall plan for the community.”

Mark Porath, Hearthstone CEO, stated:

“We are proud to be a part of Sterling Ranch, a leading planned community in one of the best real-estate markets in America. The Smethills family has created an authentic Colorado community rooted in the Colorado lifestyle for thousands of existing and future residents. Our goal is to help them continue to innovate and grow their market share in a responsible manner.”

Hearthstone is the leading private investment partner in for-sale housing in America with an uncompromising commitment to excellence, innovation, and integrity. Hearthstone’s primary business is managing institutional capital in their investment in residential housing, in select target markets, and has invested over $16.5 billion into this sector.

Sterling Ranch is one of the Top 50 Master Planned Communities in the nation (ranked number 46 in 2021 by John Burns). Sterling Ranch has set the standard for Colorado in water sustainability and is Colorado’s only rainwater harvesting community.

Sterling Ranch is rooted in Colorado families. The original 2,200 acres that comprise the majority of Sterling Ranch were owned by Frank and Joy Burns. The Burns family was a prominent business and philanthropic Colorado family leaving their mark on our state everywhere they went (including the University of Denver’s ‘Burn’s School of Real Estate”). Subsequently, Harold and Diane Smethills, both multi generation Colorado natives, were inspired to bring Sterling Ranch to life as a legacy project for present and future Coloradan generations to enjoy. With their extensive experience in real estate, water, and business, they acquired a location that truly embodies what it means to live in Colorado. They are now leaving that legacy to their son Brock as he continues to sustain the original vision and lead Sterling Ranch’s development into the future.

The Sterling Ranch community thrives on:

  • State-of-the-art technologies
  • A mindful approach to sustainable resources
  • Ultimately, 30 miles of interconnected trails that traverse the beautiful community
  • Majestic mountain views
  • 12,050 residential units, retail, future schools, and amenity centers
  • Nine unique villages and a future town center
  • Living in harmony with nature and technology
  • Sustainable water consumption and a renewable energy plan

More information regarding Sterling Ranch is available at

2022 Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award Winner: Nelson Mitchell

HistoryMaker Homes CEO Nelson Mitchell has a servant heart that has been passed down through generations. From great-grandfather O.N. Mitchell Sr. and grandfather O.N. Mitchell Jr., who established the Texas company in 1949, to his father, Bryan Mitchell, who switched career paths to support the family-run business, the Mitchell family has considered charitable giving a core value—in both their personal lives and corporate ventures—for decades.

Today, the fourth-generation home builder and his company have raised over $14.5 million within their work, benefiting children with disabilities, impoverished communities, veterans, and local homeless populations. For his devotion to giving back to his local communities and the greater globe, Nelson has been presented with the 2022 Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award.

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Call for Nominations: 2022 Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award

The editors at BUILDER and our partners at Hearthstone invite you to nominate a candidate for a coveted annual honor, the 23rd Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award.

Each year, the Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award honors a home builder who demonstrates a lifetime commitment to public service. Recent honorees include GreenPointe Holdings’ Edward Burr, Taylor Morrison’s Sheryl Palmer, Great Southern Homes’ Michael Nieri, and Pulte’s Built to Honor program.

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2021 Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award Winner: Taylor Morrison’s Sheryl Palmer

Through both internal programs and external ventures, Taylor Morrison’s chairman and CEO has demonstrated a lifetime to public service. “Hearthstone is proud to recognize Ms. Sheryl Palmer as our 2021 public home builder winner for her leadership and far-reaching efforts that support her team members, customers, and the hundreds of communities in which Taylor Morrison serves,” says Mark Porath, CEO of Hearthstone.

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2021 Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award Winner: Edward Burr

Florida real estate developer Edward Burr launched a nonprofit that is leading the way by educating and empowering young people.  “Hearthstone is proud to recognize Mr. Ed Burr as our 2021 private home builder winner for 25 years of dedication and support to educate and protect children and teens from all types of bullying, abuse, and victimization,” says Mark Porath, CEO of Hearthstone. “The prevention education programs that the Monique Burr Foundation has provided to over 5 million children and teens throughout Florida and the U.S. is truly inspiring.”

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Call for Nominations: 2021 Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award

The editors at BUILDER and our partners at Hearthstone invite you to nominate a candidate for a coveted annual honor, the 22nd annual Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award.  Each year, the Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award honors a home builder who demonstrates a lifetime commitment to public service. Recent honorees include Great Southern Homes’ Michael Nieri, Pulte’s Built to Honor program, Hayden Homes’ Hayden Watson, and Oakwood Homes‘ Pat Hamill.

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Pulte’s Built to Honor Program recognized as 2020 Hearthstone Award Winner

The company-wide program provides mortgage-free homes to U.S. military veterans and their families.

In March of last year, Sgt. Howard Appleby was on a tour of Babcock Ranch, a solar-powered master-planned community in southwestern Florida. Turning a corner, he saw an open lot with a billboard with his name on it and a small crowd, there to celebrate the surprise groundbreaking of his new home. “I started crying, and my wife was in shock—we couldn’t believe it,” he recalls. “Everyone was clapping and waving the American flag, saying, ‘Welcome home!’”

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