From construction kingpin to land developer, Mike Yantis is always building a legacy

With several projects in the works across San Antonio and more deals he’s trying to get under contract every day, Mike Yantis is all in on his newest venture as a residential real estate developer.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Yantis said about Yantis Land, his development company.

While Yantis has always been involved in residential real estate, his background tends more toward construction than development and planning.

In fact, the former chairman of the Valero Alamo Bowl once stood at the helm of Yantis Co., a company founded by his grandfather John Yantis. From 2012 to 2020, Yantis held the position of chief executive at the company. He said his departure was instigated in part by the stresses of managing 500 workers across several projects at a given time.

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Mike Yantis stands in an undeveloped field at Everly Estates, on San Antonio’s Southeast Side.

Gabe Hernandez | SABJ

“I was working 12-hour days at Yantis Co.,” he said.

Working closely with many family members, all of whom were invested in the company, also made things complicated — and more than once, the company saw family members in leadership positions depart for new horizons.

In 2020, tensions between family members once again came to a head.

“There were disagreements about what the future of the company was going to look like,” Yantis said. “The writing was on the wall. I said if someone has to leave, I’ll leave.”

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Mike Yantis is developing home lots at Annabelle Ranch, on San Antonio’s Southeast Side.

Gabe Hernandez | SABJ

From there, Yantis said he leveraged the relationships he had built during his time in residential construction with the likes of Lennar (NYSE: LEN), PulteGroup (NYSE: PHM) and KB Home (NYSE: KBH) – some of the nation’s biggest builders, and among the most active in San Antonio. That allowed him to leapfrog from construction into land development.

“In the back of my mind I’ve always been interested in development, being in charge of the whole project. It was a good opportunity to jump into something else,” he said.

As a developer, Yantis’ attention is focused on the Southeast Side, where he is developing home lots in subdivisions like Everly Estates and Annabelle Ranch. That part of town that has garnered the attention of land developers because of an increased demand for housing in the area, as well as more reasonable land costs than other parts of the city. That interest from homebuyers and developers has even prompted city leaders to look more closely at improving infrastructure in the area to support a surge in new residents.

The firm’s other projects in San Antonio include 117 new home lots at Bella Rosa in Cibolo that have been snapped up by Century Communities and CastleRock Communities, and 235 paper lots — which are entitled but undeveloped — on the West Side under contract to M/I Homes.

With the agency to take his new company in any direction he wants, Yantis said that he’s looking to scale Yantis Land.

“We’re actively chasing at least five deals right now that we’re trying to put under contract for single-family development,” he said.

He added the caveat that he’s looking closely at deals that he believes will garner interest from builders.

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Mike Yantis is developing 110 half-acre lots for Empire Communities, a Houston homebuilder.

Yantis Land, LLC

“The motivation to grow or stay the same size depends on what deals are out there and do they make sense or not,” Yantis said. “I’m not looking to grow just to grow. If we can find good locations with builder interest at a decent price, I take the attitude that we’ll figure out how to make them work.”

Looking forward, Yantis said he can’t help but shoot a glance at the rearview mirror to his past life in residential construction. He admitted that the thought has crossed his mind of founding his own construction firm.

“The thought crossed my mind that if I had enough deals out ahead of me, I could do this with my own guys,” he said.

But building that runway involves dealing with bloated land costs that have beset San Antonio’s development community, surging in accordance with the city’s appetite for new housing.

“I think (what) a lot of people were hoping would come down is what landowners are willing to sell their properties for,” Yantis said. “Some of the numbers sellers have in mind are for what a big builder might have paid in 2020 or 2021. I wish pricing would adjust because it would help make deals make sense on paper.”

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