In December, I attended a brokers open in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. The home for sale, a brand-new spec priced at around $2 million, is, as you might expect, beautiful. Spacious, lots of natural light, lovely finishes, top-of-the-line appliances and fixtures, custom cabinetry. It's in a terrific, well-established neighborhood, close in, with great schools. Basically, it has everything a buyer in this price range would want. And the agents and brokers I spoke with there agreed. I asked one of them what she thought of the house. She said it was wonderful, a great house, and she had a client who was interested. So would they be writing a contract? “No,” she said with more than a hint of resignation in her voice. “He's waiting for the market to crash.”
Ouch. How do you respond to that?
Well, there are lots of things you can say, and you probably know them all by heart. Some of these include reeling off statistics for your area that beat national numbers in terms of sales, inventory, or prices. Mentioning the still very low interest rates. Talking about job growth in your area and other factors that show your local economy to be strong. Or you can ask the shopper the following question—my personal favorite—which came up in a panel discussion at the BIG BUILDER '07 conference in November: Who would you say is the smarter buyer—the one who bought in September of 2005 or the one who buys today?
But even the most effective and thought-provoking counterarguments are moot if you don't have a customer in front of you.
So, don't be like the customer who's sitting on the sidelines, waiting for a sign that the market is about to turn around. It's a new year, and it's time to take control of your own destiny. And we'd like to help you do just that. BUILDER's editors have traveled the country, talking with other builders, sales consultants, building scientists, economists, policymakers, and more, to bring you the information you need to make the right decisions for both the homes you build and the direction your business takes.
BUILDER editorial director Boyce Thompson went on a cross-country road trip to discover the current concerns and latest strategies of 12 builders, big and small, in three very different regions (see “Survival Instinct,” by John Caulfield, page 114). The problems these builders describe may not surprise you, but some of their solutions might. Videos of the roundtable discussions are also available, on BUILDER Online (www.builderonline.com).
For those of you in the teardown business, our design feature this month offers excellent advice on how to build infill homes that are welcomed into their communities (see “Good Neighbors,” by Jenny Sullivan, page 100). With so many municipalities imposing restrictions on teardown development and threatening moratoriums, it pays to think ahead about how your house will fit into an established streetscape.
Lots of builders are looking at modular construction as an answer to some of today's labor and cycle time issues. Senior editor Nigel Maynard took a modular housing factory tour and then talked with a number of builders already working with systems-built products to learn the essential factors a builder should consider before going modular (see “10 Things You Need to Know About Modular Homes,” page 140). The story may persuade you to make your own factory visit if you're interested in building modular housing.
And Pat Curry may leave you convinced that you need to take another kind of tour—this time through your own homes (see “Spiff Up Your Standing Inventory,” page 130). There may be a reason or two—or more—why your standing inventory is still on your books. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to give your lingering properties a better shot at attracting buyers.
These stories, along with all the others in this month's issue, are designed to give you ideas, tools, and inspiration to make the changes necessary to get your business on the right track. Check them out, and see if there's something that will work for you.
Editor in Chief
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.