Buying New Avoids Obsolescence

Buying New Avoids Obsolescence

Deep entertainment centers originally designed to accommodate large tube-type TV’s… desks in kitchens, which become clutter magnets… two-story high ceilings that echo and are expensive to heat and cool… hard to reach plant shelves that need dusting… depressing laundry/mud room entries from the garage… amenities such as these can make homes feel old and obsolete. The age of your home often reflects design features and amenities popular at that time. Generally speaking, the older the home, the farther away its design is from what today’s home buyers may be looking for.

The average age of owner-occupied homes in America is 37 years (American Community Survey from the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB). Particularly over the last four decades, professional home designers have catered to evolving home buyer preferences. This, in turn, has somewhat diminished the appeal and desirability of resale homes as prospective buyers factor in the added costs and hassles of remodeling along with the home’s purchase price.

Design Basics’ Monroe home plan (now retired) was popular three-plus decades ago. It is two steps down from the entry into the formal living room, and there is also a step down into the “sunken” family room at the back. Unified great rooms for entertaining are more in vogue today, but not step-downs into living spaces. Similarly, the home’s formal dining room plus separate dinette has fallen out of favor compared to a single eating area, especially one that’s expandable for large get-togethers. The majority of buyers today prefer island kitchens to peninsula layouts, and the Monroe’s little pantry next to the dishwasher isn’t going to turn any heads. That kitchen is also closed off from the living and dining rooms, in contrast to the popularity of today’s open designs.

The vanity in the Monroe’s upstairs suite is wide enough to replace with the much more desirable double sink variety, but the skinny 24-inch wide doors leading into the bathroom, toilet area, and walk-in closet, as well as the hall bathroom, are considered drawbacks today. And it would be virtually impossible to finish living space in the Monroe’s basement with anything much taller than a seven-foot high ceiling. 

Monroe - #746 ML
Monroe - #746 UL
Herndon - #29318 ML
Herndon - #29318 UL

In contrast, the Herndon (plan 29318) has a flex room up front that could easily be closed off for a home office, and this design is wide open across the back. The island kitchen is served by a large walk-in pantry and coming in from the garage, a drop zone, seat, and coat closet rather than the laundry room. Upstairs, the hall bathroom is a compartmented layout with two sinks, alongside the conveniently located laundry room. Your bedroom suite offers great storage, two sinks in the bathroom, and a five-foot shower with the option of also having a soaking tub.

Though 35 square feet smaller and 10 feet narrower, the Herndon plan obviously was designed for today’s buyers.

Resale home prices loosely correlate with the home’s age, which makes sense as pricier, newer resale homes may have fewer design-related deficiencies. On the other side of the equation, new construction homes command a price premium – for example, they typically cost “more per square foot” than resale homes. Resale or new, purchasing a home is a large investment and price is important. It’s a number, and it represents a long-term commitment. But it is more than just a number, as it reflects your priorities, what you are willing to trade-off or settle for, and peace of mind – the topic of our next blog post.

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Cover plan featured: Herndon (plan 29318)

New Home Cost: Cheaper than Expected?

New Home Cost: Cheaper than Expected?

“When the price is higher, people tend to focus on the things that make it higher. When the price is lower people tend to focus on things explaining why it’s lower,” William Poundstone wrote in his book, Priceless. Which do you want? Prospective buyers touring your homes to figure out why your prices are cheaper, or having them appreciate what makes your homes more expensive?

In most markets, national/production builders can offer what appears to be the “best prices.” Rightfully so, as they may enjoy economies of scale that can provide certain cost advantages in terms of land, building products, and even labor. The model homes are attractively presented, consumers notice the Delta faucets and Whirlpool appliances, and the sales representatives show how easy it would be to own one of their homes. (Photo courtesy: Delta Faucet)

Delta faucet

Some of these builders deliver an outstanding value, but oftentimes, in checking online reviews and apps such as Next Door, the builder’s reputation, quality, and customer service may be suspect. Buyers reason that is how the builder can price their homes cheaper. Aware of this, some buyers will accept those risks and buy on price; others rule out that builder, fearing the potential disappointment and regret.

If you’re not the lowest price builder in your market, your challenge is to help possible buyers identify what makes your homes more expensive. Those factors, if they matter to the buyer, will help them justify choosing you, so you may also need to help those folks appreciate why you build that way and/or include those amenities. Remember, buyers buy on emotion and subsequently justify those decisions rationally. Wanting to buy a home based on factors other than the lowest price is emotional.

Hy-Lite Awing Window

Some of the factors might be obvious – the Craftsman touches add to their home’s curb appeal. They fall in love with the look, can’t wait for their friends to see it, and value aesthetics. Other factors might require demonstration – the glass block windows (photo courtesy: Hy-Lite®) in the suite’s bathroom that provide both light AND privacy, plus crank out for fresh air, too! Factors might even be hidden – like the high performance insulation that will make their home more comfortable to live in, and is estimated to save them $XX monthly in utilities, giving them “bragging rights” as well as appealing to their desire to be environmentally responsible.

So, how do you make sure new home shoppers become aware the many reasons your home is a better value, even when it is more expensive? Besides the obvious model home tour, focus on rapport and trust. Rapport is a two-way street. The buyers want to know more about you, your company, and the homes you build. On the flip side, they’ll appreciate talking with someone who listens, cares, and truly has their interests at heart. Trust takes a little longer, though most people initially believe people they meet are trustworthy until they have reason to doubt. Knowledge of home building and your models is an important component of establishing trust. So is discovering things you have in common with the hopeful buyers (e.g., affiliations, schooling, interests, hobbies, preferences, etc.) – such similarities can go a long way with both rapport and trust. People like to do business with others like themselves. Transparency also aids in building trust, especially when it comes to pricing. Think pre-priced options and upgrades. Intriguing signage in your model home that calls attention to a specific feature that might be overlooked or under-appreciated can aid your buyer’s learning about amenities they would really want, but may not have even been aware of, further establishing trust.

As a business thought-leader and author, Seth Godin points out, price is a story, “People form assumptions and associations based on your pricing.”

Hyundai’s pricing strategy is very different from that of Mercedes Benz, and they sold a million and a half more vehicles world-wide last year than Mercedes. Yes, people form assumptions about Hyundai and Mercedes vehicles based in part on their pricing. But Mercedes sales pros probably aren’t losing any sleep over Hyundai prices!

For more resources on thoughtful design:

(Product spotlights are for informational purposes only.)

A Great Elevation Helps Make the Sale

A Great Elevation Helps Make the Sale

Prospective customers rule you “in” or “out” based on your homes’ exteriors. It’s a fact. Overwhelmed by too many choices, buyers use shortcuts to narrow the number of home builders they will consider. One of those shortcuts is your elevation designs. Photographs can be great – once the home has been built AND if the photos, the lighting, the landscaping, etc., are top-notch. 

More common is to win buyers’ hearts and minds with elevation renderings. But all renderings are not created equal, and this is where buyers infer a lot about the builder. A black and white CAD drawing is devoid of emotion, and a black and white artist’s rendering does little to capture buyers’ attention. Color renderings are more impactful, but many are perceived as being “cartoonish,” unprofessional, and actually work against you as they help her rule you out. Professional, hand-drawn color renderings used to be the standard, but are now seen as old-fashioned, inferring the builder is also less sophisticated. (Elevation rendering progression shown below - Dorsett plan #29062; click on the image to enlarge.)

Dorsett - #29062 BW CAD

Black & White CAD Elevation

Dorsett - #29062 BW Drawn

Black & White Hand-drawn Rendering

Dorsett - #29062 Color Drawn

Color Hand-drawn Rendering

Dorsett - #29062

Photo-realistic Rendering

Photo-realistic, color, CAD renderings are now what buyers expect. Everything can be perfect – from the weather to the landscaping, color and materials choices, etc. Plus, there can be multiple views, whether that’s front/sides/rear, different perspectives, daytime/dusk, or even drone views. (Click on an image below to enlarge.)
the Sinclair Terrace - #42424

Front Elevation Rendering
(Sinclair Terrace - #42424)

Sinclair Terrace - #42424

Rear Elevation Rendering
(Sinclair Terrace - #42424)

Wendling Park - Dawn/Dusk

Custom Presentation Renderings for Your Plans

Design Basics was selected by the Home Builders Association of Des Moines to create photo-realistic elevation renderings for each of the five homes built for their 2020 HomeShowExpo. The different views of each home visually connected viewers with the homes’ designs on an emotional level, and feedback form the builders, their sales representatives, the HBA, and consumers was extremely positive.

What about you? What does the visual presentation of your homes say about you, your company, and the homes you build? Design Basics can create custom photo-realistic elevation renderings from your CAD home plans that stir buyer’s heartstrings and rule you “in!” You can specify exterior colors and products, or Design Basics can make recommendations. We will also discuss what angle and perspective we feel would help create the most intriguing rendering.

One plan or dozens, we look forward to helping you raise the bar with high-quality presentation renderings of your homes! Contact us today: 800.947.7526

For more resources on thoughtful design:

Getting the Most out of Your Promotional Licenses

Getting the Most out of Your Promotional Licenses

“That was a neat couple,” you think to yourself, watching those prospective buyers driving off. You hammer out the last few keystrokes of your first email follow-up/thank you, playing over in your mind their comments about the different builders’ model homes they had visited. What would they remember about you? About your home? Were you noteworthy?


With a Promotional License from Design Basics, you receive the rendered elevation and floorplans to use as you see fit in your marketing and promotional efforts. Available for every plan, Promotional Licenses are just $25 each (or FREE, upon request when ordering plans directly from Design Basics).  Printing up notecards using the front elevation artwork and writing your personal message is decidedly old-school, yet tremendously impactful! Handwritten notes are rare (someone actually took the time to write it), and repeating back a few key points shows you were listening to these prospects’ needs and desires. The rendering…your message…in the format of a handwritten note sent through the mail…that’s one way to stand above everyone else’s email follow ups!

But don’t limit using Promotional License home plan artwork to just your model home. For $200 you could add eight new home plans to your plan portfolio and attract a wider audience of buyers. And don’t limit your use of Promotional License home plan artwork to just note cards. Those renderings are perfect for brochures, website, social media and blog posts, yard signs, and MLS listings.

Great Design Matters! 


The Key to a Successful Home Sale

The Key to a Successful Home Sale

Couple at computerIn May, my son graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in marketing. As a high school senior, he set a national sales record for one of North America’s largest electronics retailers. The kid is smart. But when it came time to purchase a new car last weekend, he and his fiancée (who also has a business degree) were novices. Not that they hadn’t researched vehicles online. Not that they didn’t know what was important to them in a new vehicle. Not that they didn’t know what they could afford. It’s just that neither had ever purchased a brand-new vehicle. Rebates or lower APR? Extended warranty? Rustproofing? “Sport” edition? Price negotiation? Then there was the high-pressure sales tactics…

Similarly, how many of your prospective home buyers took classes in home design, home building, or buying a new home when they were college students? With such a monumental decision, how do you help buyers choose you?

Listen…and build rapport. The first salesperson my son met couldn’t wait to demonstrate the vehicle. He quickly identifed the model he thought would most interest this young couple, then spent quite a bit of time showing them the many features. This was followed by the customary test-drive during which the sales person spent most of his time texting.

I’ve met new home sales pros who likewise want to get right to touring visitors through their model home. Most are superb at highlighting the hot-button amenities. But people want to buy from someone they like, someone who cares about them, someone they can trust, and that takes time getting to know them and listening to what they want.

Edu-sell. Price is always important, but selling via lowest price is both difficult and lazy. Difficult, because there are only so many corners you can cut, so many suppliers you can bully into dropping their price. Lazy, because the consumer doesn’t have to think and the salesperson doesn’t have to deal with educating the customer, quality, or other “intangibles.”

The salesman who won my son’s business quickly established rapport over their mutual admiration for Apple products. He segued that into introducing Apple Car Play, found in some of their vehicles. He took the time to discuss all-wheel drive options, various trim levels/options, and what was included, such as explaining the pros and cons of leather seats.

New home buyers don’t know what they don’t know. Your ability to modify standard designs; delightful new amenities prospects didn’t even know existed; product upgrades ideally matched to their priorities; these are all ways to empower buyers to make the best decisions, within the budget they have established for themselves, making you their advisor who has their best interests at heart.

Make the process easy, fun, and (relatively) stress-free. For my son and his fiancée, their salesman turned car shopping into a process of discovery. The vehicle they ultimately purchased was not even on their radar screen initially. From the big touch screen display with back-up camera, to the “Vehicle Protection Package,” to sorting through the business office/finance options, this dealership understood how to respect their customers.

Your homes are designed. Your home building system was designed. Your customers’ new home purchase experience should be designed, too. Looking at the purchase experience through the eyes of the customer is the place to start, rather than what’s efficient for you. Concentrate especially on the areas which can be stressful (e.g., finalizing the design, product selections, and the purchase agreement). Above all else, focus on clear communication, because ambiguity is no one’s friend!

Author: Paul Foresman, VP Business Development, Design Basics, LLC

Pin It on Pinterest