The new generation of home buyers is consumed by constant customization. From their specific lattes in the morning, to personalized technology throughout their day, home buyers are looking for more out of their homes than ever before. They are looking for a unique experience contoured to their exact lifestyle: master planned communities.
The construction industry is swift to reply to this demand: master planned communities. It is more than pouring slabs and mass producing homes by the thousands: it is time to sweat the details. Here are three ways that your company can look at capturing the new market of master planned communities. Are you doing any of them already?
Building an Experience
Acclaimed schools, timeless architecture, gorgeous parks woven together into neighborhoods of superior quality and convenience offering a lifestyle of perfect balance, addressing everything that is important to residences in one sweeping landscape. It is more than building homes: it is building a lifestyle experience. Gone are the days of synonymous, cookie-cutter architecture, golf courses and tennis courts, instead market research is ushering in customized, experimental design.
Shea Homes planned and built out their Sage community with the broad, dynamic idea of master planned community in mind. Instead of basic amenities such as pools or a sports complex, they included an art walk with eight public sculptures for residents to enjoy, a relaxing yoga lawn, a fitness path connecting an expansive trail system, a community garden allowing residents to prepare harvest-to-table meals… you get the idea. The amenities are all community centered, and allowing residents home buying experience to extend far past their square footage. “When we trained our sales team, we wanted them to see that it’s less about selling the floor plan, and more about marketing the community and lifestyle that customers can buy into,” says Adam Hieb, vice president of sales and marketing for Shea’s Bay Area division. “There are only so any ways you can go with three bedrooms and two baths. The difference maker is the amenities”.
Natural Beauty & Soft Amenities
According to market research, walking trails are the number one attraction among residents, according to the surveys from the John Burns Real Estate Consulting company Home builders and developers are brainstorming ways to integrate natural beauty with safe, sustainable walking trails. Companies such as the Toll Brothers put in miles of trails into their developments alongside their natural heavily wooded greenbelts in Magnolia, Texas. “We are trying to work far more on natural beauty rather than man-made beauty,” says Jim Jenkins, vice president of master planned communities for Toll Brothers.
Deciding on the mixture of open space and housing is a delicate balance, especially since the cost of land has increased 16 percent since 2009. However, master planned communities allows home builders and developers to maximize profitability by taking advantage of every square mile. For example, The Pinehills in Plymouth, Massachusetts only builds on 30 percent of its 3,174 acres. However, within their developed areas, there is broad diversification, maximizing profitability: it includes mid rise apartments, independent living, memory care house, and senior residents. The wide range of housing types enables The Pinehills to grab enough market share to spread there wings and really make a return.
Segmentation is a Growth Strategy
Say that your company build 300 of the same units, such as town homes, row houses or condos… would this bring your success, or simply over saturate the market. Jerry James, president of Edward James Companies thinks it would do the later. Instead, James proposes to segment their home offerings to appeal to a broader customer base, with about 60 units of each type of home time. The mix makes for a quicker absorption and gives the builders leverage to price some homes at a higher rate. “The segmentation strategy is a smart play; it’s like the stock market,” James says. “If I buy big on one stock, I can win big if it goes up and lose big when it goes down. But if I have more than a one trick only to ride in response to market demand.”
How is your company looking to reinvent the master planned community? Share with us.
Really liked your blog. You are right, it is all about the amenities and working with the natural beauty. I live in Highlands Ranch Colorado, one of the largest planned communities in the country. When we moved here from Connecticut it was a little hard to get used to the lack of architectural diversity. However, what we love is the rec centers, open space, and trails.
Thank you for the feedback, Bill. We completely agree! The rec centers, open spaces and trails make a world of difference!