Thursday, November 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Builders guard sales gadgets that help market new homes

NEW HOUSING SALES

The sales center for Valencia Reserve, a 55-plus community in Boynton Beach, Fla., offers a site map and floor plans for prospective buyers. (Jenniver Podis/Palm Beach Poast/MCT)

The new home sales center, once a supermarket of paint colors and cabinet designs, now sells something more, something less tangible than granite countertops.

Condensed in tricked-out double-wide trailers with free coffee and scones, the American ethos of opportunity – and tennis – oozes from carefully designed showcases worthy of an Epcot exhibit and so secret that developers are often loath to share the details.

Sunrise, Fla.-based builder GL Homes politely declined to discuss, or demonstrate, its super-charged, proprietary technology that allows buyers to manipulate visions of their potential home on a touch-screen model of the community, even though the public can freely wander its sales centers.

A Colorado designer said she was barred for years by a developer from taking pictures of sales centers she set up for fear the competition would copycat. The builder relented recently, defeated by shared images on the Internet.

From the wattage of the lights to the scents in the air, sales centers for new homes have evolved, orchestrating a feeling of not just what your new home will be, but who you will be when you buy it.

“The building side of the home industry wants to make buying a home a journey where you are creating the dream,” said Lita Dirks, CEO of the Denver-based design and consultancy firm Lita Dirks & Co. “It’s an atmosphere where the buyer can make it happen, in the spot they want it to happen and at the moment they want it to happen.”

Developers have jumped back in the home-building business in the past two years, buying up land and gussying up sales centers that were quiet during the recession.

In January, GL Homes debuted its sales center at Valencia Cove, a new 55-plus community west of Boynton Beach, Fla. Toll Brothers is working on a revamp of its Jupiter (Fla.) Country Club sales center, which opened at the peak of the market in 2006 but has seen most of its activity in the past two years.

The introduction of technology has been the key change in home center design, said Linda Cohen, vice president of marketing for the Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers.

Homebuyers can find so much out about communities online, such as designs, pricing and the site plan of the neighborhood, that they don’t need as much procedural information from the sales center.

Where once the walls may have been covered with only printouts of floor plans and bulleted design details, now there are accessories that try to evoke an emotional response.

“Today, when people walk in, we’re promoting a lifestyle,” Cohen said. “We have photos of the amenities that we offer, photos of the schools, maps of points of interest, grocery stores, where they want to shop.”

While buyers are still likely to come across the massive Monopoly board-style 3-D community renderings – called “topo,” or topography tables in the business – Toll Brothers is also adding “interactive site plan tables” where buyers can see videos about the community and pull up maps, all while digitally designing a home and choosing a specific lot.

Cohen said Jupiter Country Club will have three such electronic tables when its sales center redesign is complete. The “topo” map will be removed.

“It only serves one purpose, showing the map,” Cohen said.

Todd Harff, president of Creating Results, a marketing firm that focuses on senior consumers, disagrees. A design by Harff’s Virginia-based company for a sales center at a 55-plus community won top honors at this year’s International Builders Show. It included the topo map.

Harff said baby boomer buyers, while familiar with technology, still gravitate to a topography table, which can act as an anchor for socialization, like an island in a kitchen. Salespeople can still use technology, but they are guides through the process rather than the buyer directing themselves.

“With the 55-plus, we recognize they will still need some traditional displays,” said Harff, who also uses brighter lighting in 55-plus sales centers to increase the feeling of vitality. “But even in our younger communities, we find there’s something just familiar about standing around a topo table that leads people to spend time there.”

And lingering is what builders want. Cafes and front porches with sitting areas are typical features of new sales centers. More subtle additions include added scents that match the lifestyle being sold. A beachside community may have ocean overtones in the air, while a property with lots of trees may add a pine fragrance.

Other innovations include having buyers sign-in on iPads, which salespeople can then use during tours of model homes to jot down what the prospect likes about each design. At the end, a personalized brochure can be printed out for the buyer while the builder gets feedback electronically about likes and dislikes

“One of the great things is builders can personalize what they do with the homebuyer,” said Doug Sylvester, senior director of products for the company BDX in Austin, Texas.

Sylvester, whose company designs computer kiosks and other innovations for sales centers, said technology started to creep in several years ago but has been on a fast-track in the past 12 months.
That’s about the time frame for when GL Homes introduced its proprietary computer program at The Bridges sales center. The high-end Bridges community is west of Delray Beach, Fla.

Designed in-house by GL Homes, the software allows buyers to see how their preferred home design will look and fit on specific lots with a 360-degree view of the home and community.
GL Homes Division President Marcie DePlaza said other builders have offered to buy the software, but GL Homes isn’t sharing.

“When you go into other places, you’ll see things similar to what we’ve done, but the 360 spin of the house, that’s what they really don’t have,” she said. “All talking about (the program) does is bring more builders into our offices.”

Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Middle Green Valley plan moves forward

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

     
    School district continues look into Armijo grade-change scandal

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Veterans ready to serve Thanksgiving dinner

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    New focus on achievement gap of black males

    By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

    Sandbags available in advance of storms

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Vacaville art gallery schedules open house

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

     
    What’s the matter with Kansas Street?

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Governments shut doors for holiday

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Suisun police log: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    Weather for Nov. 27, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

     
    .

    US / World

    Passengers in Russia’s Arctic give airliner a push

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Armored vehicle nixed by Davis ends up in Woodland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Court: No warrant needed to draw parolees’ blood

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Heart stent for Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 81

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Snow makes Thanksgiving travel ‘a little hairy’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Union focuses on security guards at Apple

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Homeless man beaten to death in San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Obama administration sets stricter smog standard

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Obama gets the bill for White House Thanksgiving

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    American among hostages targeted in Yemen raid

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Sierra Leone official: Ebola may have reached peak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Hong Kong police arrest key protesters, clear site

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Canada police arrest ex-radio host in sex case

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Impoverished Lebanese city is target for IS group

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Spy balloons give police new view of Jerusalem

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

    Grand jury documents rife with inconsistencies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    Small crowd protests in Oakland for third night

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

    Ferguson residents clean up, hope for calm night

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Nov. 27, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 27, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscope for Nov. 27, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    Nursing homes full of opportunities for giving

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Hanks, wife to host Christmas tree lighting

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    With shake-ups, AC/DC perseveres with album, tour

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    875 hours of holiday programming on TV last year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    Missing model-restaurateur B. Smith found in NYC

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    Garth Brooks cites Ferguson for cancellation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    University in Tennessee cancels Cosby appearance

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Sports

    Seahawks, 49ers meet for 1st time this season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Panda heads put away with Sandoval’s departure

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    All City football: Vikings sweep top honors

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    San Francisco’s bid for 2024 Olympics taking shape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    NFL might not flex any Sunday night games in 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Raiders’ Woodson expects to play in 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Curry, 3s too much for Magic; Warriors win 111-96

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sharks sign emergency backup goalie

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Spurs’ Popovich undergoes medical procedure

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    AP source: Tomas in process of deal with D’backs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Harden leads Rockets past Kings 102-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Smith to start at QB for Jets vs. Dolphins on MNF

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Butler knocks off No. 5 North Carolina, 74-66

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Atletico Madrid, Arsenal reach knockout phase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Business

    Twitter now tracks other apps you’ve installed

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Health insurance sign-ups coming to shopping malls

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    FBI data show thousands of gun sales beat checks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    US new home sales up 0.7 percent in October

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Esther Ringler

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Dora Maria Aranda

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

    Adrian Looy

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Holiday Gift Guide 2014

    Why millennials prefer electronic gift cards

    By The Washington Post | From Page: HGG2

    How to give holiday gift cards

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG2

    How to establish gift spending limits

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG3

    Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG3

    Novice crafter? There’s a project for that!

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG6

    Gift ideas for the special seniors in your life

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG6

    Time and money-saving holiday gift ideas

    By Statepoint Media | From Page: HGG7

    Oy vey, holidays! Does Hanukkah wannabe Christmas?

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG7

    How to save on high-tech gifts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG10

    Shop top finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG11

    Sharing music: a personal gift made easy by tech

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG12

    Great gifts for music lovers

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG13

    Kitchen gift-giving made easy with personality profiles

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

    Great gifts for the family foodie

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

    Holiday shows abound in Solano County

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: HGG17

    Great gifts for people who love to read

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG19

    An oft-elusive yet gifty treat: coffee table books

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG19

    Eco-friendly gift ideas for ‘green’ giving

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Things to consider before buying this holiday season

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Steps to take before giving pets as gifts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    2014 holiday toy predictions

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Trend-setting gifts for the women on your holiday shopping list

    By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG23

    Gifts to keep kids engaged

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG25

    Gift wrap tricks to save time

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG26

    Save time and energy with a family gift this holiday season

    By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG27

    Right at Home: gifts you can use – and use up

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG30

    How to send gifts to faraway friends and family

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30

    Gift exchange dos and don’ts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30