Fresh off his trip to Charlotte, NC for the Spring Council Forum, we sat down with Bob Richardson to get a renewed perspective on the residential community market. Bob is a member of the ULI Community Development Council, which focuses on master planned community developments.
“One of the recurring themes I have been hearing is how important a community’s website is for prospective buyers. Home buyers are younger and more astute. They show up with a lot of knowledge that they may or may not share with the sales agent.”
In turn, the master developer is becoming more sophisticated in determining how to reach potential home buyers with their website, and what information to provide there. They are figuring out what home buyers are searching for so they can provide the right information.
“Prospective buyers are showing up already knowing the design options – in some cases they are just as informed as the sales agent. They want to do their own independent investigation and reach their own conclusions before they end up in front of a community representative. They have absolutely done their homework,” Bob said.
Additionally, these Gen–X and Gen–Y buyers tend to be really focused on the social components of the community and not just the bricks and mortar. The presence of recreational amenities, organized community events, and an interactive HOA website are key considerations. Location is also critical for the new home buyer – and closer is better. However, with better location you usually sacrifice space.
“We’re still seeing 80% of homes being built in the suburbs and 20% in urban areas. But there is an emerging higher demand for the urban areas. Prices there tend to go up because of higher land values and more competition for those sites.”