Every new Heartland Home neighborhood opening in 2010 looked like Black Friday.

The Pittsburgh-based new-home builder sold eight to 14 homes on the first day of sales at each of its eight community or phase grand openings often without model homes in the community or, at times, even streets.

“The first time this happened we said, ‘We were just lucky,’” recalls Kevin Oakley, Heartland’s marketing director. “Then we went to a community where the entire year before we sold 10 homes, and in our new phase we sold eight homes in one day.”

Oakley credits the success to techniques gleaned from Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: Science & Practice, who outlines ways to persuade buyers to commit. First, create a sense of scarcity for the products; and second, cultivate consensus, the idea that others are eager to buy it.

Heartland did that by withholding specific lot details about new neighborhoods from shoppers, while promoting the neighborhoods’ qualities. Next, it invited interest lists of potential buyers to preview parties two weeks before the lot sales began.

Roughly 40 percent to 50 percent of the invitees attended the parties to see the new lot maps, which included notes on some lots specifying which plan would work there.

“The key is we already know what [home plans] people are looking for,” from previous contacts, says Oakley. “It’s like serendipity for the buyer.” The room full of eager shoppers created a sense of urgency to act quickly. Ultimately, 40 percent of those at the preview party bought homes at the official opening.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Pittsburgh, PA.