Nestled between the Wasatch Mountain Range to the east and the Great Salt Lake to the west, and stretching from Salt Lake City north to Ogden, Utah, Flint Custom Homes builds homes on some of the most picturesque homesites anywhere in the country. This area, known as the Wasatch Front, is home to 80% of Utah’s growing population and has attracted numerous production home builders, whose viability depends on volume of homes built. With a graduate degree in accounting, owner Steve Flint recognized a different business model could work—delivering one-of-a-kind custom homes to home buyers who would not be satisfied with tract housing. According to Flint, “We rarely build the same home twice.”
Those production builders now own or control most of the available land, Flint reported; therefore, Flint usually builds his $500,000-$2,500,000 homes on homesites his clients already own. More recently, that has meant building on the backside of the Wasatch Mountains as well.
A second-generation builder, Flint learned construction firsthand on jobsites from his dad. Then, when he was old enough, he went to work for their framing and finish carpenter. Steve loves construction and is proud of the craftsmanship that shows in every home he builds. That was evident early on, which caught the eye of Scott and Michelle Blain, who purchased one of Flint’s homes that had been built on a “spec” basis. A few years later, the Blains had Flint build them a custom home, which went so well that Michelle went to work for Flint in 2004.
“I’m a walking testimonial for Flint Custom Homes,” Blain said, continuing, “That’s so important in my working with each of our clients.” Blain understands custom home building from the client’s perspective and essentially sees her role as the client’s advocate, educating and guiding buyers through the entire purchase and home building processes. According to Steve, “Michelle’s got their backs.”
The team of Steve Flint and Michelle Blain introduced a Woman-Centric approach to home building along the Wasatch Front. Flint remarked, “Men don’t think like ladies. For example, our sub-contractors are guys and our women clients appreciate a strong female voice that can direct the subs.” Flint Custom Homes embraced Design Basics’ Woman-Centric Matters!® program, which provides keen insights into women’s preferences in the home. “I talk with every one of our clients about our Woman-Centric approach, and our buyers ‘get it,’” said Blain. “For example, I introduce the drop zone idea with its storage and convenience when coming in from the garage, explaining to our prospective buyers that they already have one, but it’s probably their kitchen island!”
Click here for more about Flint Custom Homes and see beautiful photos of their custom designs!
Learn more about our Woman-Centric Matters!® program.
The John Burns Real Estate Consulting Group recently reported that for 2016, median new home prices were 35% more than the median price for resale homes – much higher than the 10%-20% new home price premium of the 1990s and 2000s. So, how do you answer the question, “Why should I buy a new home, now?” More importantly, how would your sales representatives answer that question? Would each and every one of their answers be consistent, comprehensive, and position your home(s) in the best possible light?
Obviously, buyers purchase homes for varying reasons based on their own self-interests. But in addition to whatever their top motivations for buying a home, one of the tools your sales team needs is a thoughtfully worded handout of some of the most common and compelling reasons for buying one of your new homes. While you will want to tailor the information to your specific business strengths, the following are all items to highlight.
- Interest rate risk of waiting: 30-year fixed rate mortgages are forecast to be a full 1% higher by the end of 2018 compared to the end of 2017 (longforecast.com). A $250,000, 30-year mortgage at a 4% interest rate (APR) is $148.51 less per month than at 5% APR.
- Escalating construction costs: The average new construction home in the first eight months of 2017 sold for $313,250, compared to $302,300 for the first eight months of 2016, a one-year increase of $10,950 (U.S. Census Bureau data and FRED Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis).
- Stiffer building and energy codes combined with product advancements mean cheaper utility bills and lower homeowner insurance rates, further reducing your total monthly housing costs.
The financial implications are often the first aspect looked at, but there are lots of other reasons to look at new construction rather than an existing home, including:
- Quality of construction. More stringent building codes are just one of the reasons today’s homes typically offer superior quality compared to older homes, making your new home more pleasurable to live in.
- Design flexibility. Some things that just aren’t feasible to change with resale homes, like garage size, ceiling heights, wider doors, or open, entertaining floorplans.
- Product choices, advancements. When building new, there’s a gamut of products to select from in making your home uniquely yours, based on what’s important to you—such as quieter and safer products…high technology…healthy alternatives…new construction is a hands-down winner!
- Avoid maintenance hassles and cost. New homes are typically lower maintenance due to the products used. Composite decking, tilt-in clad windows, and laminate flooring, all give you back a little more time. Then there’s the risk of expensive repairs associated with older homes such as replacing worn-out appliances, roof shingles, carpet, and furnaces.
- Energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. Homes built today are as much as 60% more energy efficient than homes built 20 years ago, contributing to a more comfortable home. Your energy efficient new home can help prevent the release of tons (yes, TONS!) of greenhouse gasses per year, while helping conserve our energy resources. Advanced building products such as engineered wood and recycled product choices such as carpet made from discarded plastic water bottles further help protect our environment.
- Don’t settle for less. Finally, one of the most important reasons for buying new is getting exactly what you want in your new home.
While you’re planning for your new home, take a look at our resources page for information about home building and design. Resources
It’s uncanny how prospective home buyers equate better design with better homes, and buyers want to buy the best!
Of course, how would-be buyers experience your home needs to be better, too. We use the term ‘Hidden Assets’ to describe amenities that may be over-looked or under-appreciated. Soft-close cabinet hardware is a big advantage – if buyers know about it. Quiet bathroom exhaust fans are hidden assets unless people turn them on. A doorless walk-in shower may be impressive, but explaining there’s no door to clean elevates the desirability of this amenity.
Nothing tops well-trained salespeople who are as eager to listen to the customers as they are to demonstrate the home. Akin to a pull-out kitchen wastebasket drawer, pull-out recycling bins will be appreciated; but explaining to buyers that the location of those recycling bins, next to the kitchen sink, is ultra-convenient because most recyclables need to be rinsed out first is better than a recycling bin in the garage. This location also eliminates water spots that would otherwise show en route to a recycling bin elsewhere in the home.
A large glass block window over a soaking tub is aesthetically pleasing, but calling attention to glass block’s inherent privacy, eliminating the need to add window coverings and the associated hassles of reaching over the tub to close the blinds, makes you ‘the builder who really understands how people actually live in their homes’.
Great Designs + Great Customer Experiences = More Referrals
According to sales strategist and author Tom Hopkins, “Referred leads are six times more likely to buy from you than non-qualified leads!”
One way to address bringing attention to the hidden assets is by using tasteful signage; especially if your home will be shown by agents who are not familiar with the home. Builders that are members of Design Basics’ Woman-Centric Matters!® or Builder-Centric℠ GOLD program have access to hundreds of different Hidden Asset Circles to effectively point out and communicate such amenities. Find out more about these two proven programs by clicking on the links above.
Chris Jones founded C.A. Jones Inc., in 1995, building new homes in the St. Louis metro east area, primarily in Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties on the Illinois side. Through a combination of hard work, customer focus, and superb value, C.A. Jones grew to building 80 homes a year; then, the housing recession hit.
Estimates vary, but perhaps one-third of home builders nationally closed during the housing recession, leaving their new homeowners to fend for themselves. Not Chris Jones – Jones would stand behind the homes that they built and be there for their customers. It wasn’t easy. In fact, Chris didn’t pay himself for more than two years. But Chris had given his word to his customers, vendors, and bankers, and he wasn’t about to give up.
That perseverance paid off. Market conditions improved and Jones built over 50 homes in the last 12 months. The company employs a staff of 16, plus three part-time individuals. Jones’ largest neighborhood, Country Club Hills (Waterloo, IL), opened in 2006 and still had 72 of the 92 home sites available when the recession hit. Today, all of those lots are sold as are a few of the 25 homes in phase two. Jones’ model home at Country Club Hills is Design Basics’ Saffron plan. Jones modified the rear foyer – opting for a bench with coat hooks in lieu of the original design’s coat closet – a change that has been very well received by customers. “We’ve had great response to this plan!” Jones said. Granite countertops grace the kitchen and the deep pantry has been a big hit with buyers. The dining and family rooms come alive with lots of natural light. There are also abundant windows in the owner’s suite and a VELUX® Sun Tunnel bathes the bathroom in daylight. Rather than hinged doors, pocket doors ease access between the owner’s bedroom, bathroom, and walk-in closet.
Click here to read more about C.A. Jones Inc. and view the homes.
It’s uncanny how prospective home buyers marry better design with better homes. And, other things being relatively equal, buyers almost always choose better. Now, there is no single definition for better design – it’s personal, decided by one buyer at a time. Still, we can influence buyers to identify and appreciate our definitions of better design and sell more homes.
That’s the foundation for Design Basics’ focus on a home’s “livability.” Aesthetic aspects of design (i.e., views inside and out) are important, and people can fall in love with those. But how the home lives is even more important to closing a sale. Traffic patterns can be ruined by door conflicts. Well-thought-out storage and organization amenities are located right where they’re needed. Rear foyer drop zones and master bath make-up ledges can eliminate cluttered countertops.
Delightful amenities prospective buyers discover in your home solidify the idea they’re getting a better home. Pocket offices…dual owner’s suites…work-in pantries…pass-through laundry rooms…Chill-N-Grill™ stations…travel centers…coffee bars…when your innovations “connect” with buyers, you’re likely to hear “You’ve thought of everything!” and “Why don’t all builders offer _______?”
Livability at a Glance™
This understanding was also the genesis for Design Basics’ Livability at a Glance™ (LAAG), including the color-coded floorplans that highlight areas for entertaining, de-stressing, storing, and flexible living. Consumer response has been overwhelmingly positive, as LAAG helps prospective home buyers better appreciate the home’s design and makes it easier for them to imagine living in the home. Plus, the colorized floorplans stand apart from the competition.
Buyers want to buy the best, from the best. And it all starts with offering the best home plans!
NOTE: Builders that are members of Design Basics’ Woman-Centric Matters!® or Builder-Centric℠ GOLD programs have the right to feature LAAG colorized floorplans in their marketing. Find out more about these two proven programs by clicking on the links above.
(Cover image: plan 9267 Menlo Park)
Heritage Homes has emerged as the Fargo, North Dakota, area’s leading home builder through a relentless focus on the customer. Everything – from the home plans to the products and processes – has been thoughtfully designed based on keen insight and customer feedback to deliver remarkable new homes and customer experiences.
Putting the customer first, coupled with a love for construction, led company owner and President Tyrone Leslie to envision a new kind of homebuilding company. But he knew he couldn’t do it alone. According to Leslie, this could only work in a team environment where customer satisfaction is a core value held by all,
“With the magnitude of the purchase, a brand-new home, we’re honored by the trust customers place in us. Our team is not about personal agendas. Our team is passionate about what they do and they enjoy collaborating. As soon as you want to collaborate, communication improves and good things come from great communication.”
Great communication is at the center of Heritage Homes’ customer journey. Heritage Homes knows you can’t have a great home without having had a great homebuilding experience. Following visits to the company’s website, their journey typically begins in one of Heritage Homes’ furnished model homes, where visitors can come to appreciate amenities they just won’t see in other new homes. They are greeted by one of Heritage Homes’ New Home Specialists who take great pride in educating prospective home buyers, so that the buyers are empowered to make the best decisions. “We listen. Our New Home Specialists know what can and can’t be done, which is a tremendous benefit for our customers,” Steve Larson, Sales Manager for Heritage Homes
The Journey continues in the design process, where customers are delighted to realize Heritage Homes will modify its home plans, customizing them for how each buyer wants the home to “live.” Then, with plans in hand, buyers proceed to Heritage Homes’ Design Center, where Project Coordinator Nicole Schaffer works with them on product selections for their home. “The Design Center is a revolving door of innovation,” Schaffer said. “And it is very hands-on. My role is to educate our customers; what they should know regarding product choices when building a home. Customers also tell me they really appreciate my assistance in helping them make selections that are complementary and go well together. In addition, as their Project Coordinator, I’m their go-to point of contact throughout the building process.” Knowing that ambiguity is no one’s friend, customers can contact Nicole any time with any questions they have regarding their new home.
Read the full feature story of Heritage Homes here.