WHAT'S A DEVELOPER OF AN EXCLUSIVE gated community to do when more than 150 prospects are clamoring for just 50 home sites? A simple lottery seemed too low-end for Belsera, Landmark Homes' newest semi-custom village in downtown Reno, Nev., and an auction might cause resentment among neighbors before they moved in.

So Landmark devised a sealed-bid process with rules stating that no one could submit more than three offers and that each bid be in increments of $5,000 above the published lot prices.

For the first sealed-bid event, Landmark released 15 home sites, resulting in premiums of up to $100,000. A few months later, the builder put up another seven lots, with similar results. “Most of the people we asked thought the sealed bid idea was a fair process,” says sales manager Dianne Plummer. “It distinguished us and the project.”

START BIDDING: Building at Belsera is just getting under way, but home prices are already appreciating thanks to a sealed-bid process that also generated construction cash.
START BIDDING: Building at Belsera is just getting under way, but home prices are already appreciating thanks to a sealed-bid process that also generated construction cash.

Landmark didn't release any lots after August 2004, but the company made an additional four available at the project's grand opening this past January and opened three model homes that showcase Belsera's mix of 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot, two- and three-level homes selling in the $1 million-plus range.

“The bid process helped us set [home] prices, and they've appreciated,” says Plummer, explaining why the builder will now wait to release more parcels while the first homes under contract work toward completion on nine-month production tracks. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2006.

Campaign Details Program: Sealed-bid process for Belsera, Reno, Nev.; Developer: Landmark Homes, Reno; Cost: Approximately $45,000 (direct mail invitation and initial event)

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Reno, NV.