Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Let's face it - with all of the media coverage about the "housing slump" consumers are expecting more and willing to pay less for the home of their dreams. We are having to really evaluate the return on every dollar that we spend and what the return can be on that investment.
As someone that makes their living merchandising model homes nothing hurts me more than to visit a builders community and see homes that aren't living up to their potential. I was in Las Vegas for a speaking engagement last week and went out to look at what was new and exciting in the Vegas market and I had a huge surprise. The most exciting, innovative, and memorable communities were multi-family and the most disappointing were communities that were built by national builders and had at least 8 models (and some a lot more than that) in each area. I'm going to write at length about the multi-family communities at length later, but until then if you are anywhere near the Las Vegas area be sure to take a look at Manhattan West. I was not only impressed I was blown away by the presentation and professionalism of the experience and loved the fact that the theme that ran throughout the presentation was Lifestyle. As a Lifestylist® it's always exciting to know you are going down the right path.
But back to the beautiful planned development I visited. I was told that this was the latest and greatest and the developers welcome center and staff was very impressive. They gave just enough information to make me curious enough to visit the builders models and to understand the goals of the community. So I drove out to see the first builders collection of 11 models and when I walked up to the door there was a sign that stated their homes were closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and lucky me I was visiting on a Wednesday. The next builder had 18 models which ranged in price from $200,000 to $500,000. I walked some of the homes but I guess the builder decided to have the merchandiser stick with the standard wall color - beige - and wallpaper and after about 5 homes I couldn't tell you one thing about any of them except they all looked the same.
On to my last stop - Toll Brothers. Fortunately I saved the best for last! I was greeted by a smiling welcoming sales person who offered me cookies right out of the oven and a water even though he understood I wasn't going to be a qualified buyer. They had three homes but they were stunning! Each one had different colors, lifestyles, and personalities and I was finally excited enough by what I saw to want to walk through every room and every home.
I also walked through the Kimball Hill community that you had to drive by to get to the planned community. They did a great job on a much smaller budget then their competition across the street. They were wise enough to position themselves strategically near a competitor that would spend marketing dollars on billboards ads etc. and bring traffic right past Kimball Hill's homes on the way to theirs.
By knowing your competition and taking advantage of their strengths and weaknesses, you can not only survive in a tough market you can flourish.