BY JON LANSNER, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
The U.S. Commerce Department reported this past week that new home sales in the nation fell to the lowest level in February in at least 48 years.
Sales of new homes plunged in February to an annual rate of 250,000, the Commerce Department said. That’s the lowest monthly total since the Commerce Department began compiling those figures in 1963.
But Tim Sullivan, a principal with Irvine-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting, wasn’t buying it.
“There’s a large margin of error associated with these numbers,” Sullivan said at the Building Industry Association’s annual Development Trends Conference in Newport Beach. “You can’t deny that the numbers are crummy. But are they as crummy as they seem?”
He wasn’t alone.
National Association of Realtors spokesman Walter Molony — who compiles NAR’s statistical press releases and lectures on national housing indicators — says that people give too much credence to the U.S. Commerce Department’s new home sales figures. Read More >
BY MARTIN HENDERSON, RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA PATCH
Rancho Santa Margarita came a little closer to getting a new restaurant and a new residential area on Wednesday when the city’s Planning Commission approved plans for a BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse and the Rancho Santa Margarita Townhomes.
The commission voted to approve a resolution allowing the Rancho Santa Margarita Townhomes project, a plan for 66 units flanked by Avenida de las Banderas, Alma Aldea and CA-241. It is adjacent to the commercial area that includes IHOP. The concept was met enthusiastically, though commissioners expressed concern about sight-line issues while trying to exit onto Alma Aldea from the site—and that from the location across the street—and asked for a further study as a means of slowing traffic and making safer egress in the area just north of the big turn on Alma Aldea.
“The mitigation of traffic calming will come out,” said David Maldonado, the project designer for the developer, Brandywine Homes. “On our site, the sight line is much greater; it’s a little more dangerous on the existing location.” Read More >
BY JOHN CLAUFIELD, BUILDER
Dave Barisic vice president of Brandywine Homes Irvine, Calif.
After we carefully research our home buying audience for one of our developments, we may continue with traditional advertising (depending on the demographic) or branch out into social media. In 2011, we will be creating a Facebook page for our new developments but only for audiences that are social-media savvy. The challenging aspect of building a Twitter feed or Facebook page is finding your audience online and creating a buzz. We also promote our properties by partnering with other events that take place in our neighborhoods. Brandywine execs are involved in regional real estate associations/conferences. In addition, we recently hired a public relations firm that reaches out to traditional print media [and] targets real estate home bloggers and online-only press.
Marketing new homes over the Internet, especially through social media, has come so far in recent years that it will be the primary marketing strategy for most builders this spring. And no one seems to consider this an especially big leap of faith.
When we asked three builders for the March issue of Builder how they planned to generate a good buzz during the spring selling season, driving customers to their website, often through social media, rose to the top of the list.
“The old ways of marketing are obsolete,” says Matt Garland of Garland Griffin Homes in Westlake, Ohio, who started 50 move-up homes last year. Garland’s company recently launched a robust new website with backend tools to generate leads. The company also partnered with two lead-generating websites, www.Cleveland.com and www.newhomesource.com. Read More >