Take a half-hour drive north from Atlanta, up I-575 near fast-growing Canton, Ga., and you are bound to see the giant billboard urging young home buyers to visit a new community touted as their “Base Camp for Life.” When the project, named Park Village, opens in 2007, Sivica Homes is betting visitors will have to suppress the urge to pitch a tent and unroll a sleeping bag in the heart of the campy community ambiance.
Because of the community's proximity to some of the region's greatest natural assets, the Alpharetta-based start-up builder is marketing it to health and fitness-conscious Generation Xers—“extreme adventure at your back door,” jokes Irene Hall, vice president of marketing for the builders' parent company, Sivica.
Every element, from the rustic sales center, to the lodge-style clubhouse, to the miles of National Parks Service-designed hiking trails weaving through the property, is being designed to tap into the activities and lifestyle of those who love the great outdoors.
Intent on selling lifestyle communities to buyers on a shoestring, Sivica Homes appears to have found a sweet spot in this formerly enigmatic generation, and with two parts method and one part magic, has become a magnet for the Gen Xer niche, defying most builders' success models flush with diversification.
Whether or not the focus on one buyer group proves to be a healthy long-term position, no one can deny that it's been an effective entry strategy into the competitive Atlanta market—closings have snowballed from nearly 100 homes in 2005 to a projected 600 homes in 2006. Now, with its lot position especially strong in Atlanta's exurbs, Sivica's net is in perfect position to capture the flock of twenty-somethings turned thirty-somethings looking to roost.
And, if the nearly 10 leads a day from under-30 types that are being generated from the Park Village billboard are any indication, Sivica Homes stands to make a living. Hall expects to eventually close out 75 percent of the 650-home project to Gen X buyers.
COMING OF AGE Ranging in age from roughly 28 to 40 years old, it seems Gen X has finally grown up. These buyers are no longer the debt-ridden, problem-with-authority generation, exhibiting typical middle-child syndrome characteristics while searching for an identity distinct from boomers and their “mini me” Gen Y offspring. Although attitude still exists—Gen Xers still want things the way they want them—many have moved into nesting mode.
Granted, it's taken them longer than their parents. But, prior to taking the plunge, they've cleaned up their credit and made homeownership a priority. In fact, as Gen Xers have moved from their 20s into their 30s, homeownership rates for the group climbed from 27 percent to 63 percent, according to research by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.
At Sivica Homes, the Gen X appeal emerged as a side effect of the company's mission to deliver an attractive home, in a highly amenitized community, at an affordable price, according to Kyle Dempsey, Sivica Homes' president. And although he makes the synch-up seem like a serendipitous by-product rather than strategic planning, the market's demographics make it look like pure genius.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.