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Ask Our President: What’s Your Near Term Forecast for the Housing Industry?

By Brett Whitehead
President – Brandywine Homes

It’s a challenging market, no doubt about it. But builders can find a way to sell homes as long as they pay close attention to their potential buyers. We’ve never subscribed to the idea that the same floor plan and the same marketing campaign will be effective in every situation. It just doesn’t work that way. Builders need to understand exactly what price point, what square footage, what location and what product type will speak to the buyers in a given community. When you understand all those elements, your homes will sell.

In fact, last year we closed a new community in Garden Grove with single family homes called Pomelo that very specifically targeted local buyers. In this instance, the homes responded to the importance buyers place on extended family. We designed downstairs bedrooms for in-laws, large great rooms for family gatherings, and unusually spacious backyards.

We are continually making adjustments large and small. For example, in 2008 we opened a community in Westminster and assumed our buyers would be couples with young families. But that wasn’t the case. We were attracting younger buyers without children, or couples with infants. So we quickly adjusted the floor plan in the model, converting one of the bedrooms into a home office. It worked. The prospective buyers suddenly had an easier time seeing themselves in the homes. We also altered our marketing efforts to reach a younger buyer. This meant different ads and different advertising vehicles.

Beyond designing homes that respond in a very smart way to buyer preferences – keeping in mind that those preferences differ from one group of buyers to the next – the real secret is job creation. The economy must continue to add jobs. Buyers want to know that they will have a good job a year from now. That certainty gives them the confidence to make the commitment to a new home.