As they seek to rework projects to make the homes smaller and more affordable or to reduce the number of units to be offered in a given development phase, some home builders have encountered problems with municipalities, such as not being able to obtain necessary adjustments to density requirements. In response to last week's online survey, 83.3% of respondents strongly agreed with that assessment, while the remaining 16.7% agreed to a lesser degree.

"We are in the process with several devleopments and encountered this problem with product," said one respondent. "Things that were selling several years ago will not sell in today's market. Planners with no experience will not give up on ideas that they want to promote."

Noted another, "Here in Virginia Beach, the city manager tries to call the shots when it comes to most rezonings. His approach to revised densities is that they will create future slums. He has very little visition and seems to be living in the '70s."

Typical problems with the local municipality or other government entity encountered by survey resopndents when seeking to rework product included an inability to understand the benefit to existing homeowners and a refusal to change exterior façade requirements to allow for a more reasonably priced material.

"It always seems that most municipalities fail miserably at understanding the dynamics of real estate development," said one respondent. "They see or read how a concept worked in another area and assume that this is the way it should be developed in their community. It would be great if the city would listen to their planners and really use them as a guide.

When asked to provide a word of advice to home builders seeking to reduce product square footage, lot size, and/or unit count per phase, one respondent recommended, "Before spending a great deal of time on your revision, meet with your council representative or commissioner and, together, visit the planning department for their reaction. Then get support from the community and put together a very comprehensive package to show how the revision will not only benefit the existing homeowners, but the city as well."